other people's kidsI find it astonishing how patient I can be with other people’s kids compared to my own. Other people’s kids can show me 50 crappy drawings of the same picture, take 10 minutes to tell me something that should only take 10 seconds, or ask me the same stupid question 20 times, and my responses would be, “Oh, what a nice picture!” and “That’s a great story!” and I would answer their stupid question 20 times.

If my kids did the exact same things, my reactions would be quite different. “Stop wasting paper drawing the same thing over and over!” and “Get to the point, please!” and “I already answered your question and I’m not answering it again!” would be more like it.

It’s easier for me to be understanding of other people’s kids, and I notice that it goes both ways. I always see my friends politely nodding along and laughing at whatever nonsensical story my kids are prattling on about as I sit there cringing, embarrassed by the weird things they’re saying.

I get it, though. You should see me when I’m volunteering in one of my kids’ classrooms. It’s almost like I’ve been possessed by one of those young, fun-loving kindergarten teachers. I feel like I’m floating above myself saying, “Who is this kind, patient woman, and where was she when the kids wouldn’t get dressed this morning?!” I patiently wait for the child I’m working with to finish telling me about what he had for breakfast and just play the damn math game I’m there to play with him so I can move on to the next kid!

So I am patient with those kids, and here’s why. Because when I’m volunteering, I only have to deal with those kids for five minutes, so listening them stammer through their stories and their inability to focus on the task at hand are only things I have to witness for a short time once or twice a month. If I only had to interact with my kids a few times a month, I’d be the most patient Mother in all the land!

But that’s not the way it goes. With your own kids, as soon as one question is answered, there’s another right behind it, and another 50 drawings, and another never-ending story. So it’s understandable that your patience may grow a little short. With other people’s kids, it’s easier to say, “Oh he’s so cute,” when you know that you get to leave at the end of the day.

I just can’t wait until the roles are reversed and the kids are the ones cringing and being embarrassed by me while they are nice and patient with their friends’ Moms. It’s the circle of life.

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