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Edison Knew Virtue of Patience

Every week I have many interactions and experiences that give me ideas about what to write about in my column. I usually have my radar up for anything that is familyrelated and piques my interest.

Having kept a sharp eye and ear open all week, I was finally rewarded on the weekend when I happened to hear a story about Thomas Edison. The story is about a young assistant who worked with Edison when he was developing the light bulb. This was a long and arduous process that kept Edison's team on its toes.

Finally, the long-awaited prototype was done. Arrangements were made for a special presentation and everyone was ready and alert. Edison asked his young assistant to carry the newly created light bulb into the room. The young fellow was so nervous that, upon entering the room, he dropped the light bulb.


There was great consternation among the team and the observers. There was nothing to do but go back to the drawing board and so they began their work again.

The second bulb was made and, much to the astonishment and discontent of the group, Thomas Edison named the same assistant to carry the invention for a second time.

The story was told to me in the context of patience. It raised my appreciation for Edison and it underscored for me what patience looks like when it is put into practice.

I grew up hearing that patience is a virtue. I knew at a young age that it is a virtue that I don't have and it has been a lifelong struggle to acquire what I would consider to be the skill of patience. Some people seem to be born with patience. They don't get riled when they have to stand in line or wait for a friend. They are supportive and understanding of how each one has a personal operating style and some are quicker on the draw than others.

Patience is an essential part of raising children. From day one, the child is a learner trying to take in new information and rapidly translating it into the manual for negotiating life. Some things come easier than others and the majority of the new information has to be repeated a number of times before it settles in. Parents support their child's learning by being consistent and by giving praise and encouragement.

It takes a while to get a handle on the shoelace-tying formula.

There is a bit of a trick to riding a bike without falling and making a bed can be a complicated affair.

In case you are thinking "What does a lack of patience look like?" picture someone with arms folded across the chest and tapping a foot. That could really get in the way of learning a new skill.

The next time you want to give your child the room to grow and learn at her own pace, take a page from the Edison book and let her know that you trust her ability to get it right.