JusJoJan Day 18: “That’ll Take Eighteen Thousand Years”

Jottin’ Through January!

So, here we are, back to Sunday again. How are you spending the day, today? Here in America, it’s Martin Luther King Jr. weekend (the official observance of his birthday will be tomorrow, even though it’s not actually his birthday, because government..).

It’s not a holiday for our family – my Accomplice left for work about half an hour ago, because chefs don’t get Saturdays and Sundays off. He will have tomorrow and Tuesday, his regular weekend. The kids don’t have school tomorrow, that’s true, but since school has never been part of the equation by which they live their lives, it doesn’t matter.

What’s relevant to us is that our credit union will be closed, and the Y might be, which will put something of a kink in our usual Monday schedule…

But that’s tomorrow, and, right now, that might as well be eighteen thousand years from now.

Or, at least, that’s what Annalise would have said, when she was four….

Not an 18,000 year wait! Taking the Metro into Washington D.C., September 2008, ages 4 and just 7.

All people have their quirks, and our children were no exception. For reasons I’ll likely never understand, when Lise was small, tired, and impatient for something, her exasperation at any delay always included some mention of the number eighteen.


“But it’s going to be eighteen minutes before I can see my show!”

Eighteen minutes can seem like a very long time…it’s longer than a human can hold their breath, after all. It can seem like an even longer time, maybe, when you haven’t lived all that many minutes yet, and most of the world you live in is too big for you, and you don’t have a lot of power in your own life…

Maybe, if she’d been treated with respect and parented peacefully from the beginning of her life, instead of from the age of four, she wouldn’t have said it. Maybe she wouldn’t have found waiting so intensely frustrating and discouraging…

When her patience was the most frayed, and she was nearly at the end of her tolerance for something that was unavoidably going to take far longer than she wanted it to – like, for instance, her birthday, she would half-wail,


It’s not easy, this waiting game…

And she had a forceful way of expressing that reality.

It took my considerably longer, if not quite eighteen thousand years, to understand that there were ways I could help her.

  • No, I can’t make time go faster. But we can celebrate her half-birthday, and that makes waiting for her actual birthday a bit easier (and gives us a bit of excitement a week after all the Christmas and New Year’s hubbub is over. There are other things we can do, too:

  • Netflix and Amazon are excellent ways to have many shows she wants to see available when she wants to see them.

  • Lines are a wonderful place to have a chat, with each other or other people in the queue.

  • Long car rides are great for exploring new music, deep conversations, word games, making plans, and reminiscing.

  • Video chats can cushion the wait when friends live too far away to see as often as she’d like.

  • Saying yes to requests throughout the year makes it easier to wait for those extra-special gift-receiving occasions.

  • Free access to the internet means a lot less time spent waiting for answers to all the many questions a ten year old mind can conjure.

  • Doing something else that doesn’t require waiting can help to pass the time pleasantly…and she might even forget that she was waiting!

Waiting with heart, on her half-birthday.

And perhaps more importantly than all the others:

Having power and autonomy in her own life, the freedom to make many choices for herself each day, and the ability to spend most of her time just as she pleases, means that there is a lot less waiting time in her life these days, because the waiting is seldom arbitrarily imposed. Rather than living her life by the clock, she is free to eat when she’s hungry, sleep when she’s tired, and wake up when she’s rested. If she wants to spend her day reading, or an afternoon on the trampoline, or hours making a movie with her Monster High Ghouls, her guinea pig, or her Furbys, she generally can.

When she was small, and ‘eighteen thousand years’ of waiting was a part of her perceived reality, I didn’t understand these things. I didn’t take her words seriously; I treated them as an exaggeration, and generally pooh-poohed them away, as though they were only words.

I wasn’t until I realized that she meant them, that the waiting really did feel like a long and hopeless distance to her, with no end in sight, that I was able to help her discover that there can be a tremendous amount of living held in waiting times.

I’m glad we’ve made that shift, because the adult world isn’t free of waiting. Someday, when she’s awaiting the birth of her first child, maybe, or stuck in traffic, or living with a four-year-old who finds waiting almost impossible, she’ll be better prepared, and she’ll have tools she can use and share with others.

Are you good at waiting, or do you find it frustrating? Have you ever had that ‘eighteen thousand years’ feeling? Wanna talk about it?

I’ll wait for you. =)

Got a few minutes?  Check out other Jotters here!

Waiting together for The Phantom of the Opera, age almost 10.

One comment

  1. I read an account in the Christian Science Monitor that I really liked. A woman got on a bus and was hoping to while away the long ride by chatting with her seatmates, but everyone was looking down at their smartphones. So she asked loudly, “Is there anyone on this bus interesting enough to talk with me?” One woman raised her hand shyly, and so she found a companion to make time go well. Being old-fashioned, I worry that our modern generation has become addicted to their devices to stave off boredom, when sometimes all it takes is another human being. Nice post today.

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