...especially if you're a homeschooler.
Last week, my husband made a chart of colors with all the colors written in different languages. After the girls sat down on the couch, he pulled out the color blue and said the colors to them in English, French, Spanish, and German. Rose is 7 months old. She didn't care. Iris, who is two, had gotten up in the middle, gone to the toy box, and had begun to play with something random. Lily, being four, had stayed put, but had totally spaced out. So when their dad repeats the color and then asks them what that certain color is in a specific language, Iris isn't paying attention and Lily's automatic response is "I don't know." My husband: "Did anyone else just get a sudden headache?" I snorted at that moment, trying to supress my laughter. He then goes on to say, "You know, each day I keep getting more turned off on the idea of homeschooling." "Why? Because how frustrating it is that they don't want to pay attention?" "Exactly."
Like I said, I could only laugh. I deal with this every day. Every day, when we sit down for an activity, Lily spaces out in the middle of doing bookwork. You can ask her to draw a rectangle, and it will seem like she's doing just that, until, halfway through the rectangle, she's doodling. You ask her what she's doing and she stops and stares at her doodle and responds with her usual "I don't know." *head-desk* Iris gets distracted almost immediately after given an instruction. A simple "can you draw a circle for me, please?" and as soon as she picks up her crayon she's completely forgotten what you just asked her. Most of the time they sit down to do a certain activity that involves their undivided attention, like writing or math, I have to snap my fingers in front of their eyes and go "FOCUS!" or it will never get done. I've learned to be patient.
I am a very impatient person. I was kind of spoiled as a child. Materially, I wasn't given everything I wanted, but my emotions were always tended to immediately. If I was angry, you had to console me, NOW. If I was hungry, you had to feed me, NOW. If you had upset me, you had to apologize, NOW. So when I work with my girls and they don't do it NOW, it can get quite frustrating, especially when it's not just spacing out but downright defiance. There have been days when I just want to pull a Homer Simpson and throttle them, but I always try and leave a room when I get too irritated.
Patience was something I had to learn when I began staying with my children full time. If I got too angry or frustrated with them, I usually had to put my own self in time out. I'm not saying I don't get angry now or that I'm anywhere near perfect where patience is concerned, but I do my best, and I have gotten better over the past couple of years. It's not easy and a constant work in progress, but every homeschooler knows how much patience is needed.