We are seated by our friendly server for an evening meal in a beautiful, open-concept family restaurant, aptly coined a country kitchen for its white hardwood table and chairs and charming down-home ambiance. On first glance, I am drawn to look up at the beautiful chandeliers hanging gracefully from the ceiling, as well as noticing the carefully selected and placed artwork hung tastefully around the dining room. The atmosphere is relaxed and quiet. This seems just what the doctor ordered for a family of six, complete with four tired, sandy children.
It’s been a perfect beach day, fun-filled and action packed; that is, until it was time to pile into the van and head for home. That is when everything fell apart, and the day began to unravel. Seating arrangements had been determined for the ride home and a wholesome movie selected for the drive from point A to point B. But now, as we sit and wait, there is a pervading mood of darkness in the form of a little black cloud hanging in the air over our table. Not only is one sitting in cold, wet clothing due to forgetting a bathing suit at home and by necessity wearing his shorts that he swam in, and another three just plain hungry and tired of waiting, our meal happens to be considerably delayed in the kitchen. It seems that the two tables in the opposite dining area have been catered to first, and whatever they ordered is taking an extremely lengthy time to cook and serve. As the joke goes, one wonders if they had to catch and de-feather the turkey first. So with forty-five minutes behind us and six rolls and two coffees consumed since we arrived, there are still no kid’s meals sitting before our children on the table.
It is fair to assume that most of us are not amused.
My husband, bless his heart, has the patience of Job. He decides to use this opportunity to teach the children that patience is indeed a virtue. They listen attentively as he describes the four hour wait he had the other night to see a doctor in the local emergency wing of the nearest hospital, and he lays out a very convincing case that this wait, here in this comfortable, spacious restaurant, is certainly much more pleasant a wait than the one he had sitting amongst cranky, sick out-patients the other night. Our children continue to attend to his case as he described the conditions inside that hospital waiting area and they do so with rapt attention, his story-telling serving to get their minds of their own current misfortune, if for but even a few minutes.
We have all heard it said time and time again that patience is a virtue, but when push comes to shove, how many of us would forgo patience if doing so would shave off even a few minutes from our incredibly busy and scheduled lives. I am as guilty as the next person for feeling anxious and stressed when caught in a line-up or stuck in a traffic jam. And certainly there are very real deadlines that we all have to meet in our day-to-day lives. There are times in life when we simply cannot wait.
However, when we are able to wait, and thus see these interruptions in life as blessings in disguise, there is a silver lining to be found in those dark clouds that overshadow our days when life becomes delayed or plans are put on hold. And tonight was one of those evenings where I made a conscious choice to lean in to the delay rather than push against it.
As it became increasingly clear that we were in for a long night, and that our meals were not coming to us any time soon, my husband and I made a joint, executive, albeit unspoken, decision to make the best of things. We played a few games of Eye-Spy-With- My-Little-Eye and I took a couple of walks around the perimeter with the youngest, where we discovered a blueberry field complete with shot-gun warning sounds to scare the crows off. It was actually a very interesting phenomena to witness. Later, when we two rejoined the rest of the family, we all talked about the highlights of the day and then expanded the discussion to include highlights of the summer. It was a very, long wait!
Although waiting is not always possible, or even in the best interest of families like ours with young children, our family actually found that in choosing to wait it out in that restaurant this evening gave us as parents a wonderful reality object lesson to teach our children about patience. Although we might never deliberately choose to go to that restaurant again, (we are not gluttons for punishment (!), I am glad that we had the time this evening to wait it out and thus model for our children a little of what patience entails.
For, because of the unexpected blessing in disguise that was this lengthy wait, we as a family were able to gain a better understanding of patience and what that really means.