Veruca? Is that you?

“I want the world,
I want the whole world.
I want to lock it all up in my pocket
It’s my bar of chocolate
Give it to me now!
I want today
I want tomorrow
I want to wear them like braids in my hair and I don’t want to share ’em’!”

Veruca Salt is the very spoiled little girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who wanted what she wanted, and she wanted it NOW!

Sometimes we just have to wait. Unfortunately, we… Americans especially… do not want to wait, for anything. Tom Petty sang, “The waiting is the hardest part…” The Beatles’ Blackbird was waiting for freedom… Foreigner was waiting for a girl like you… and the Beach Boys just wanted to be older so they wouldn’t have to wait so long to be with their beach girls!

This afternoon I went to Lowe’s to get another gallon of paint for my husband to put on the walls of my home. It is the Friday before Labor Day weekend, so I wasn’t the only person needing paint… it was a popular spot. Two very capable men were waiting on customers at the paint counter. Several people were waiting, most very patiently… but there was this one woman… This lady seemed to think that the waters should part, and she should walk on dry ground directly to the paint experts who would instantaneously meet all of her paint needs. The disgusted look on her face, her rolling eyes, and her verbal complaints to her young daughter (who was behaving nicely) let us all know that her paint was so much more important than ours. So, I smiled at her. When it was my turn, I called the paint mixer by name… George… made him smile… and told him to have a great weekend. No, I’m not always this perfectly wonderful, but I was in a good mood, and I secretly wanted to spite the grumpy lady and undo any damage she had done.

Most of us do not naturally wait patiently… we fight the urge to yell, “Me first!” and allow our inner Veruca Salt to descend upon anyone within earshot. This is something we need to learn how to do… learn how to cope with the lack of the instant gratification we expect.

When I teach, I cannot meet with each of my students individually simultaneously. If they each need my assistance, they must wait. I believe it is a good thing to teach students to wait… more specifically… learn HOW to wait…. without getting testy, grumpy, and irritable. During the past week, I have had my students on computers… logging on… signing into our LMS (learning management system)… accessing their Office 365 accounts – and all 3 have different user names and passwords. I created a quiz in our LMS so that those students who had experience and no issues could get busy on something while I helped each student who needed me. One young lady waited a little while, and I finally was able to sit down next to her and help her to accomplish everything she needed to do. She even sent a message to me though the LMS thanking me for my help and patience with her. It was so sweet, but it got me thinking… WE have taught our children to be impatient because WE are so impatient with them. I know – hasty generalization – but don’t you agree?

The next step in creating impatient human beings is to give in to their immediate wants. It is easier to give children what they want when they want it… because then they go away and stop bugging us. Veruca Salt was created by her parents. Every time they provided each of her wants every moment she demanded something, they fed her impatient spirit. Impatient children become demanding teenagers then disgruntled adults.

Am I giving every impatient person an out?… just blame the parents? teachers? Go ahead, we’re used to it… but instead, why not work on it. Learn to be patient. Think about that overworked waitress who has been given extra tables because they are short-handed… the cashier at the grocery store whose line has been three to four customers deep all day… or the paint mixers who are lucky enough to work the Friday before Labor Day weekend. Yes, it will take effort, but everyone around you will appreciate your patience, your kindness, your smile… and you just may encourage them to do the same.