I’m not a patient person. Not a good thing for a preschool paraeducator to say, is it? Sure, I can nod and smile pleasantly as a child tells me a long story about something that I’ve already heard five times before. Yeah, I can sit through a tantrum and still be nice to the kid at the end of it. But when it comes to waiting, I find it hard to be patient.
Worst of all is waiting for something I have no control over; something that requires nothing more than the passage of time. For instance, I’m growing out my bangs right now. Theoretically I do have control here — I can cut them off at any time. I just can’t make them grow any faster.
There’s nothing quite so unattractive as bangs in the process of growing out. They’re too short to pull back and so long that they get in your eyes. I’ve heard that the difference between a bad haircut and a good haircut is two weeks. Maybe for a man. It takes much longer than that for a woman’s bangs to grow out. Right now, mine are in the flip stage. They flip up at the ends in an absurd curl that points straight to the sky. Forget about the “little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead” — I’m a dead ringer for Hermey, the elf who wants to be a dentist in “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It could be worse — that curl could stick straight up like Alfalfa’s cowlick. Maybe by Christmas my bangs will look okay. I just hope they grow out while my hair’s still red. In the meantime, I think I’ll be a sheepdog for Halloween.
As you can imagine, I’m not a good candidate for growing a garden. Gardening is all about waiting. You plant the seed, and wait for it to germinate. A tiny sprout comes up, and you wait for more leaves to grow. You come out every day with a ruler and record each millimeter of progress, but you can’t speed up the growing process. Sure, you can weed and water, but the plant will grow in it’s own sweet time. You’re not in control — you have to wait. Just resign yourself to the fact that summer will be over by the time the darn thing is ready to harvest.
A teenager waiting for his braces to come off is in the same predicament. You just can’t get those teeth to move any faster. Every day for the eternity of eighteen months to two years, the teen looks forward to that happy day when his dentist finally says “enough” and releases him from the bondage of wires, brackets and braces. What the teen fails to realize is, life goes on. High school, often regarded as the best four years of one’s life (if one suffers from selective amnesia, and has conveniently forgotten the angst-fraught nature of teen existence), may be nearly over by the time the dreaded braces bite the dust.
Waiting for payday falls into this category as well. You check the calendar, calculate the days until your next paycheck, and wish it would hurry up and be next Friday, already. Could we please just skip over Tuesday through Thursday of this week?
I remember my first full-time job, an internship really, where I got paid once a month, while living in New York City without benefit of credit cards. I couldn’t wait to turn the page on my calendar and collect my paycheck, giving me enough money to pay my friends back that twenty bucks I’d borrowed “until next payday.” The days couldn’t pass fast enough for me. Every month I found myself wishing it was the next month already, until pretty soon all the months had flown by, my internship was over, and I could move out of my expensive apartment in the City.
Waiting for my hair to grow, waiting for payday, waiting for the harvest—seems like life is all about waiting. Meanwhile, time continues to fly by, without stopping to wait for me. Someday I’ll learn to be patient with this process—just you wait.