Tag Archive | patience

Testing Compassion Capacity

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My compassion capacity was tested the other day, just a little bit. Many of these moments occur in the same place, Walmart. People sometimes seem to schedule their shopping trips around the time they are in the worst possible mood.

I was in line, a long line. I like to think of myself as a patient person, but my patience had already been tested at least three times in the ten minutes before I took my place in that long line.

As I stood waiting, the cart behind me made contact, nudging me ever so slightly forward, I turned to see a little boy, no more than three or four, grinning gleefully at his accomplishment. I turned and resumed my attempt to practice patience in the face of all things Walmart.

It happened again, with just a little more force and obvious glee accompanied by giggles. I ignored it. I ignored it the third time as well. The fourth time, I turned in hopes of making eye contact with the little trolls mother, she was blissfully glued to her iPhone, unaware of the war her little munchkin had declared on me.

I was annoyed and out of what little patience I once had. I gave the boy that mommy look I keep in reserve, leftover from when my own children where still little trolls. It worked, at least I thought it did. He turned his attentions in full force on his mother. She told him to shut up. It’s always pains me to hear a mother slap down a child with those words.

I looked at them closer, at least I looked a little closer at the troll. He was starving, I could tell. Not for nourishment of the body, but for attention, and he was trying in every way he could to satisfy his hunger.

He tugged at her, she shoved his little hand away. He laid on the floor and tried to kick those within kicking distance. She reached down and pulled him by one arm back to a standing position. “Quit acting like a brat.”, she said. Her eyes never leaving the glowing screen in her other hand.

He resumed his cart bashing fun.

I firmly held the end of the cart and looked the little bugger right in the eyes . . . he cringed. I said, “You are really strong, aren’t you?” He smiled and tried to push into me again. Not strong enough. I was safe.

I looked at him again, really looked. He was dirty and disheveled and my heart broke a little. Mom was still absorbed in whatever escape she’d found on her phone. I looked at her. She had dark circles beneath her eyes, her hair was hastily drawn into a pony tail and she looked like I know I must have looked at some point in my parenting journey. Tired. So very tired.

Her little man was obviously a handful and a half. My ire for her began to fade. We’ve all had those days. Maybe she was a good mom. Maybe even a great one. Maybe, just maybe, it was simply one of those days.

I glanced back at the munchkin troll, if he hadn’t been trying to dislodge the bones in my ankles, I might have thought he’d had an afternoon of fun, playing in the dirt at the park. I may have thought he was just a little angel in need of a good nap.

Either way, it pained my heart and I whispered a prayer for them.

I could have easily been angered. I could have said something nasty to mom or been harsh to the boy. I chose to bite my tongue instead. I chose patience. I chose compassion. It isn’t always an easy choice, but it is one we must choose, especially when we are tempted to feed the anger and annoyances we feel, and especially, especially . . . at Walmart.

Crystal R. Cook

#1000speak

The Chinese Bamboo Tree ~ A lesson of love and patience.

I ran across something I wrote quite some time ago, when my oldest was around 18. My intent was to bring hope and encouragement to those who work so very hard, wondering if and when they will ever see the fruits of their labor. I was thinking of my fellow autism mommies as I penned the words, but now, as I read them again, I see they can be suited for just about anything in our lives.

I suppose it’s really about never giving up, even when it looks like we are working in vain . . .

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All children are unique; they learn and grow at their own pace. Almost 25 years ago, a seed was planted, a new life. My son. I was told he would never reach the heights other children would. I cared for him, nurtured and taught him, just as I would had I not been told such a thing. Today, he stands tall and proud. While others said my efforts were in vain, I was cultivating and tending to the growth that would sustain him throughout his life.

When his brother was born I faced even more challenges, and while tending to my garden I learned many, many lessons. Thinking upon all they have taught me, I am reminded of something so simple in its complexity, the Chinese bamboo tree. They say bamboo is one of the strongest of trees. It seems hard to believe when you look at it. Tall and skinny, easily bent – but not broken, the Chinese bamboo tree is an amazing thing.

Once you plant the tiny seed it doesn’t take long before you see growth sprouting through the damp earth amongst the other trees and plants surrounding it.

It requires care as all plants do. After quite some time passes, you notice everything else has grown and blossomed and the tiny bamboo seed you carefully placed beneath the soil, the one supposed to become so tall and strong, doesn’t seem to have grown much at all. It shows no signs of becoming the hearty bamboo you expected it to be. Of course you still care for it and nurture it because it was your seed, you planted it. Sometimes though, you doubt this fledgling tree will become what you hoped it would one day be.

Then comes a time when you finally see the growth you’d been hoping for and quickly it reaches the grand height of eighty feet. It is strong and you are proud. Those who had doubted and made light of your long suffering faith in that one little seed are astounded. While the seeds they planted grew quickly and bloomed with great beauty, they were not as strong and stately as your bamboo.

While they basked in the success of their gardens and you toiled in yours, an intricate root system was forming beneath the surface. Years of unseen growth and progress resulted in a strong foundation, strong enough to hold the bamboo that would stand tallest among the rest.

Sometimes, we don’t always see the fruits of our labor. Sometimes we wonder if everything we do matters, if all our hard work will make a difference. It’s easy to become discouraged when you don’t see results and change and progress, but you have to remember, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Our children are like that bamboo tree. Their growth is often slow, but we keep doing what we do every day. We tire and we grow weak, but even though doubt tries to steal away with our hope, we continue to nurture and care for them.

We may not see the results of our labor for many years, sometimes we need to be reminded that while we are above the surface hard at work, there is a foundation of strength and knowledge being built below us and one day, our children will stand tall and we will be rewarded with their every success.

They will grow to be strong enough to withstand the greatest of winds because they have the power to bend . . . but not break.

I have learned many lessons in life; this was among the most valuable.

Crystal R. Cook