I am intensely impatient

Patience. Such a lonely word. It doesn’t feel virtuous. It’s annoying – prissy even. Sitting there on the page doing embroidery and waiting for something to happen. I prefer Patience’s naughty sisters: Impetuosity and Imprudence. They’re good time girls that don’t hang around twiddling their thumbs. But they’re also like the girlfriends you can go out and have a few drinks with but then have to go home before it ends in tears or the police station. They may be fun but I’ve learnt to not hang around them long enough to pay too high a price for the good times.

Patience is one of the many virtues I seem to have missed out on (Chastity and Temperance left their business cards somewhere in the education I got from the Sisters – I left a message but they never got back to me.) I blame it on genetics.

My father is hopelessly impatient – we had to buy a magnetic scrabble board when we were kids because he’d upend the whole game when it started testing the boundaries of his tolerance for sitting still. We timed it at a maximum of 8 and a half minutes. He also once burnt the paint off a brand new tractor by setting a fire under it to get it started on a frosty morning (it worked) and nearly killed my brother and I for not handing him the ‘donger knocker’ immediately on trying to haul in an enormous schnapper. We were about 7 and 8 at the time and while the Moby Dickian fight was ensuing, complete with colourful expletives we stared at each other nonplussed and wondered what a donger knocker could possibly be. He explained (having kicked the side of the boat and thrown the gaff over board in frustration to follow the now lost fish) that it was bloody obvious that a donger knocker was something with which to dong (hit) the knocker (head) of the fish that would have been the envy of all his fishing cabal if he hadn’t been so unfortunate as to have been lumped with two offspring who didn’t understand English and couldn’t obey orders immediately. We shrugged and decided he should have spent more time at the scrabble table and doing more reading like Mum said.

The sad thing is that I totally get the ‘donger knocker’ moment where I want something fixed (my way) right now. Spoilt with instant information and entertainment I can’t understand why – once I think something requires change that it can’t be done immediately.

World fish stocks replenished (kazoom!)

Next week! Child poverty. Magically vanished!

The brilliant absurdity of this cop out is that it requires no sustained effort or the requisite ability to maintain a long-term memory on the issues that matter. By election time I’ve usually forgotten why I even care.

In scanning the headlines (‘Man has giant Feet’ ‘Coca Cola kills Woman’) I am intensely impatient with myself and the universe when I find I’ve read the article before registering that it has absolutely no newsworthiness and will not contribute in any way to my understanding of the world.

Diligence would help here; an ability to focus on the important things, winnow the chaff and follow through with clear-headed constancy. A sober understanding of what needs to be done and when.

Considering all of this while icing the birthday cake for the small person I stand back to survey my handiwork. “It doesn’t look like the shape of a nine Mum– it looks like a circle with a random stick. No offense but I think you were in lala land’. In truth it looks like the kind of cake Homer Simpson would make and there’s a moment when I hear myself say ‘Why you little….” and have the sudden impulse to run around strangling her in the time honoured style of Bart and Homer. I’ve only just realised that this is not in fact a valid parenting technique that Ian Grant would endorse. I know it’s not ok but sometimes just losing it would feel so damn good.

Patience. The theory is great – it’s the practical that tests me.

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