Feb 04, 2013 0 Share

Frustration Tolerance


Illustration of frustrated woman at computer.
iStockphoto

Sometimes we parents can learn a thing or two from our children. I am surprised at how much Cameron has taught me about frustration tolerance. I don't mean this in the way that my sense of humor normally would interpret "frustration tolerance" when if comes to raising children. Cameron has not frustrated me to the point of me needing to learn tolerance. No, Cameron has suffered a string of frustrations lately, and I have learned by watching him, how to handle my own frustrations. 

Last week, I wrote about Cameron's frustration with sharing a bathroom with the entire family. This has been just one of the many frustrations he has had to deal with of late. First of all, it's probably best to explain Cameron's typical daily patterns: He starts each day by checking the weather on his computer, and then makes breakfast which typically consists of a couple of microwave sausages (he loves sausages) and a bagel. After school, he spends some time on his computer, sometimes watching a movie from his expansive iTunes library. A few times a week he rides his bike to the gym, and has a weekly personal training session with a much-loved trainer. And of course, there's work on Friday and Saturday, which he also rides his bike to. It's a pretty simple life, and that's just the way Cameron likes it. 

Then things started to go wrong: He updated his iTunes software, and suddenly his movies stopped working. On the way home from the gym one day, his bike got a flat and the brake locked around the tire rim, so he had to drag his bike all the way home. His stepdad was out of town, so he had to wait several days before the bike could be repaired. After weeks of back and forth with iTunes support, we were finally on our way to sorting out his video issue, and an electrical surge took out his computer entirely. That same surge took out the microwave, making the usual breakfast a challenge. We have a new microwave and a new computer, but we've just learned that Cameron's trainer has left the gym. And then I forgot to buy sausages this week. 

I kept witnessing all these events and thinking what it must be like for Cameron to deal with all this. His only visible reaction would be a once daily question: "Did you hear from the iTunes lady yet?" or "When will Coenraad will be home so he can look at my bike." or "Did you buy sausages today?" There were no temper tantrums. There was no attitude. Just a simple question, trying not to be a bother, but clearly wanting an immediate resolution. 

And then my six-month-old laptop started acting up. I was beside myself. I was soooo disappointed. I had spent weeks doing research on the type of laptop to buy and was sure I had made a sound decision. When something went wrong, it ruined my whole day. (And my husband's too.) As I crawled into bed last night, muttering about how everything I touch seems to break, I thought of all the frustrations Cameron has faced over the past few weeks. I've been dealing with one issue for about 24 hours, and Cameron has been dealing with several issues for a month now. While I can see the frustration is there just below the surface, I'm so proud of how well he is tolerating it. I've told him as much, as I believe it helps him to know that I understand how he feels. He in turn has expressed appreciation for my help with the iTunes issue and in setting up his new computer. In the end, having someone understand that we are frustrated, and why we are frustrated, really helps alleviate some of the pressure. And now, before I forget, I must run to the store to buy more sausages.