When Pamela Druckerman in her article opposed the “French patience” vs the “American instant gratification,” I immediately thought of Françoise Dolto, the renown (at least in France) baby and early childhood psychoanalyst, and of something I had read a while back in a collection of articles and conference transcripts titled Tout est langage.
Dolto was bringing up the concept of need versus desire, and how it is our role as parents to satisfy our children's needs but not necessarily their desires. Her argument is that desires are important to children, but rather than indulging these desires with instant gratification, there is much more benefit in delaying their fulfillment, if at all. Instead, Dolto argues, valorizing the desire by talking about it, discussing it, sharing in the daydream is what brings the true and lasting gratification to the child. It is not so much the fulfillment of their desires that children seek, but rather the opportunity to connect. Furthermore, she says, it is the unfulfilled desire that helps the child grow, and it is the same unfulfilled desire that shapes itself into creativity and invention.
Could it be, then, that learning patience, rather than being a French thing, is nothing more than accepting no for an answer and making the best of it?