The benefits of traffic jams

My kids would attest that, of my many foibles, I am at my least calm when I am stuck in traffic. I have an explanation; not an excuse.

When it comes to commuting to school or work, I have been exceptionally spoiled my entire life. The past 17 years I have had the privilege of living where I work. No car necessary. Prior to this, when we lived in Toronto, I would leave to work before 6:00 a.m. There was very little traffic and it took me 10 minutes to get to my destination. When I lived in Hamilton, Ontario, I would cycle to work. When I worked in Ottawa, for 10 years I lived in residence as a boarding housemaster. Again, no car necessary. During my university days I could walk, skateboard or cycle to class. During high school, again in Ottawa, it took about 20 minutes by car to get to school and the lion’s share of the drive was along the Rideau Canal; there was one traffic light on the canal back then.

Effectively, I have no training in developing my traffic-congestion patience muscle.

Challenging circumstances when you are younger are some of the best times to train and learn important life lessons that will serve you well later in life. Like the benefits of patience. Resilience. Perseverance. Endurance. Delayed gratification. Impulse control.

And, to be clear, I am not diminishing the trials and tribulations of our present and unprecedented circumstances. All kids and adults have had a crash course in dealing with a host of extraordinary challenges during this pandemic. It has not been easy; it still isn’t. Many, many kids and adults have struggled over the last 14 months.

When considering this remarkable time in our history, I am grateful for the idea that, with the support of caring peers, parents and professionals nearby, generally children prove to be largely resilient to life’s challenges. For parents, it’s hard to watch our kids and not want to rescue them! But, being with our kids, talking about problems, asking questions, listening, exploring possible solutions, and believing in them, is usually the best and most important thing we can do; as opposed to trying to fix them or the circumstances that may be out of our control. Prioritize being with them; being available to them.

I am buoyed in the knowledge that, without evening knowing it, kids are learning lessons and skills today that will, in some manner, at some time, serve them well in the future.

While I’m not sure anything could have sufficiently prepared me (or anyone), to deal with the many realities of a pandemic, I am convinced that being stuck in traffic more frequently when I was younger would have helped me deal with the inevitable “traffic jams” that awaited me in my future.


I love the parallels and the message!

Nice parallels, Mr. Grainger.

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