Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tests of Patience

Most of the time, Alex is remarkably patient. Perhaps because he has had developmental delays, he doesn’t worry too much about waiting for things to happen, and he trusts that eventually they will occur. In fact, he’s often more patient than Ed and I are. For example, whenever we have to sit in a waiting room at the doctor or dentist, Alex never seems to mind passing the time until it’s his turn. While Ed and I check our watches, look around to see how many patients are ahead of us, and exchange looks during the wait, Alex smiles because he’s just happy to be there. Recently we took him to see American Idol winner Kris Allen in concert, and we were concerned that he would have difficulty sitting still through the opening act. As we sometimes do, we underestimated his willingness to wait for the main event. Alex’s good nature and patience were rewarded when he got to see Kris Allen, a singer whose music he enjoys. Last week, however, Alex encountered two situations that tested his patience, which meant our patience was tested, as well.

As I mentioned in my previous blog entry “Teaching Chores,” Alex has become very helpful at the grocery store, where he adeptly maneuvers the shopping cart through the aisles. On Tuesday, Ed took Alex with him to get groceries, and Alex happily pushed the cart while they shopped. Unfortunately, the store was quite crowded, and all of the checkout lines were very long. After waiting for several minutes in line, they were nearly to the cash register when the computer stopped working. The cashier tried to reboot the computer a few times but was unsuccessful, which meant that all the people waiting in her line now had to go to the end of another line. As Ed told me, most people were grumbling about having to wait already and then were even more annoyed to have their wait extended due to technical difficulties. However, Alex remained good natured, smiling all the while he waited. Even as they moved to another line, Alex seemed unfazed by the delay. However, after having been in line for about a half hour total, Alex suddenly informed Ed, “I don’t want to wait any longer.” Apparently, Alex’s patience does have limits. Uncertain as to whether Alex might have a meltdown, Ed took the wise course, guiding Alex and the cart out of the checkout line, putting the cart aside, and taking him out of the store. Fortunately, Ed’s quick movement eased Alex’s upset about having to wait, and a potentially bad situation was avoided in public. Probably many people waiting in those checkout lines felt the same frustration that Alex did; he could only be pleasant for so long before knowing that he’d had enough. At least he calmly verbalized his concerns instead of physically showing his irritation over the situation.

Last weekend, Alex decided that he wanted to get an electronic toy that would alter his voice. He’s been reading about puberty and how boys’ voices change, which is likely behind his interest in this voice changer toy. After searching online at Amazon, he found one that he thought was wonderful because it had four voices: robot, old man, boy, and kid. He was really only interested in the boy and kid voices, and he thought this device was a bargain at $9.99. I helped him order the voice changer with a gift card he had saved, and now he had another wait on his hands. The predicted delivery date was between Thursday and the following Monday. Of course, he wanted me to track the package several times a day to see where his voice changer was. Unfortunately, the package was not shipped until Wednesday, so he had a few anxious days, wondering when they would ship it. Then, they set a shipping arrival date of Friday by 8 P.M., which meant that all he could think and talk about on Friday was the delivery of that package. As each hour passed, he became more agitated, waiting for the toy to arrive. However, the promised delivery date was inaccurate, and he was not pleased that he would have to wait at least another day once he realized that he would not be getting the voice changer on Friday. Ed and I were concerned that we’d have to watch him pace and mutter about the voice changer all weekend because we weren’t certain if the shipping company delivered on Saturday. All three of us were running out of patience, heightened by Alex’s anxiety because he had been certain that he would receive the voice changer by Friday, as the shipping company had promised. Thankfully, the package finally arrived on Saturday morning. I’m not certain that any of the three of us would have had the patience to deal with Alex’s frustration had it not arrived then. Although we’re pleased that Alex is patient most of the time, his recent indications that his patience does, indeed, have limits reveals that he is making progress and may be more typical than we think. Perhaps he's just learned that the line from the Tom Petty song is true: "The waiting is the hardest part."

“Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised.” Hebrews 10:36


Fred Haeberle said...

I commend Alex on his patience. I am guessing the grocery store had unattended checkout stations. I would have been much less patient if I had ice cream in my basket and had been waiting for half an hour.

Pam Byrne said...

Hi Fred,

It's nice to hear from you. :) Ed said that Alex was the most patient person in the line, but I guess he knew when he'd had enough! Hope you're doing well.

Take care,