“I’m busy. Don’t bother me now,” Ensign, May 1971, 12
We often are aware of impatience with other people’s questions, with other people’s problems—with an obvious “I’m busy, don’t-bother-me-now” attitude. But, “How do we know,” as one perceptive writer said, “but that the interruption we snarl at is the most blessed thing that has come to us in long days?”1 All people have problems, all children have questions, and they need to go somewhere for answers, or often just to talk. They need to know that someone will listen, that someone is concerned. And their problems, their questions, are important to them or they wouldn’t ask—and important to us also, whether we know it or not. And if we assume what could be called the “Go-away, don’t-bother-me-now” attitude, they will go elsewhere—or shrink within themselves. Parents sometimes simply don’t have enough hands and time and attention to do all that is urgent. But in all things there is a priority of importance, and the course of life is somewhat shaped by the responses we receive from other people and by our attention or inattention to them. And one of our urgent opportunities is to respond to a child when he earnestly asks, remembering that they don’t always ask, that they aren’t always teachable, that they won’t always listen. And often we have to take them on their terms, at their times, and not always on our terms, and at our times. But if we respond to them with sincere attention and sincere concern, they will likely continue to come to us and ask. And if they find that they can trust us with their trivial questions, they may later trust us with more weighty ones. Young people are going to go to someone, somewhere. And we had better see that that “someone” is “us,” when the opportunity is ours, for there will come a time when we will wish they would come, and how do we know but that the interruption we now impatiently put off may be the most important thing we could be doing at this particular time? Busy fathers, busy mothers—busy with things sometimes more and sometimes less essential—avoid the “go-away, I’m-busy, don’t-bother-me-now” attitude.