As I have aged, especially recently, I have found my once immitigable fuse has shortened significantly. Patience, it seems, is wont to abandon me with greater swiftness than just about any other of my more respectable traits. I can generally keep my composure at work, and in most instances at home, but when the screws are tightened just that extra bit by a six-year-old who has an answer to every question—especially those which have not been asked—my patience dissolves.
Patience, I am coming to find, is inextricably linked to gratitude, as I posted about last week. Without gratitude, why even bother being patient. Take for example, the minion. He received a gift card for Christmas and bought a building block marble maze kit. Anna showed him the basics of how the blocks fit together, and we told him to have at it. Ultimately, I broke down and helped him build a towering plastic edifice that clicked and clacked as the marbles careened around the corners.
At the outset, I couldn’t be bothered to build this with him. I wanted him to figure out how the blocks fit together. It was a classic, teach a man to fish moment. If I built the maze for him, he’d never learn… In reality, I was tired, and I wanted to close my eyes for a minute or thirty.
But I realized that had I asked my dad to sit down and build with me, he wouldn’t have balked for a moment at the suggestion. He would have been down on the ground before I finished asking him. Why wouldn’t I do the same thing?
“Because I am tired,” means nothing to a six-year-old with unspeakable reserves of energy, and I knew that building the maze with him had the potential to be a memory that lasted for longer than I would ever think it would. I don’t remember everything that my dad and I built in the garage, but I remember bits and pieces of being out there with him. What if this maze building moment was one of the bits that Kemp remembers? I don’t want him to remember me taking a nap, or never having the time to build with him.
Yes, I was tired. I still am. In a sense, though, I am far more energized by the bond that the thirty minutes it took to build that unstable tower of marble glory instilled. I am energized by the thought that when he’s my age, writing a blog, or thinking about building something with his own children, he might—just might—look back on that Sunday afternoon to the example that I set, just as I looked back at the example my dad set for me.
I would not have reached this point if I had not reminded myself to be grateful for what I have been given—a family who loves me, whom I love in return. If I keep that gratitude in mind, the choice between building and napping becomes a no brainer.