Patience Rocks

Someone recently asked me what the most difficult part of being a father has been. The answer, hands down, is patience. Whether it’s having it, maintaining it or not losing it, patience is a virtue I lack. Unfortunately for me, when you’re dealing with a toddler it’s the one quality of which you need to have an abundance.

The thing is, I’m a punctual person and I’m all about efficiency. I don’t dawdle, meander or dillydally. If I need to go somewhere, I take the quickest possible route to my destination. Then I do what I have to do, leave and get home as quickly as possible. I think it stems from the fact that my mother was habitually late, but that’s a therapy session for another time. The point is, when Will doesn’t do exactly what he’s supposed to precisely when he’s supposed to, I get pretty irritated.

And god help us all if we deviate from the plan. I hate unexpected detours. As you can tell, I’m just a ton of fun.

That’s why MJ has begged me to calm down. When Will is tearing through the Tupperware cupboard and tossing shit around the kitchen, my blood boils. When he’s eating pasta but not using his fork and getting the mess everywhere, I have a series of little heart attacks. Basically if he strays from my best laid plans I go a little berserk.

I had the last two days off from work and luckily, Mother Nature finally stopped being a total bitch long enough to temporarily release us from the clutches of another frigid New England winter. With temperatures being so mild, I knew it would be downright criminal to keep Will inside for the day. So I decided I’d take Will to the playground on the beach two miles from the house.

But instead of being thankful for the mild weather and rare chance to go outside in February, all I could think about was the wet sand, dirty slides and the fact that all Will wants to do is dip his wee little Nikes in the ocean. And the ocean is wet. Which soaks his feet. And then the sand sticks to his sneakers. And God forbid if he falls in.

Soon we arrived and sure enough, like clockwork, he went straight for the sea.

I spent the next five minutes pulling him back from the water’s edge, while he repeatedly kept trying to dip his toes in. Back and forth, ebb and flow. Over and over again. When he got tired of that, he started throwing rocks. But he would only pick up the rocks that were underwater, thus creating a very unstable situation as he crouched perilously over the water giving me great stress.

I was about to pick him up and drag him back to the car kicking and screaming. But instead, I took a deep breath and remembered my wife’s advice.

Suddenly I realized what an idiot I am.

I was at the beach with my son. We had the entire stretch of sand to ourselves. Dad and son together, tossing rocks into the sea as the light of day prepares to give way to dusk. Kodak couldn’t even make a moment like the one on which I had been unwittingly sitting.

Instead of freaking out about how wet his shoes were and sand getting everywhere in the car, I took a few deep breaths and realized how lucky I was to be with my son. So I picked up a rock and gave it a toss.

“Yaaaaay, dadda! Throw, throw!” was the response I got.

So I picked up another one and threw it a little farther, and received a similar response.

“More, more. Big throw dadda. Big throw!”

This time I grabbed a slightly larger rock, took a few steps back and launched that sucker toward the horizon.

“Wooooooowwwww,” said Will.

The kid was looking at me like I was Superman. He had an amazed look on his face, the kind of look all dads hope to receive and hold onto for all time. Like I was his hero who just performed the most amazing feat imaginable. There was no need to tell him I dislocated my shoulder with that last toss, it would’ve ruined the moment.

For the next 20 minutes we happily took turns throwing rocks into Buzzards Bay. Laughing, smiling and not worrying about the stupid shit.

Although I still have sand in my sneakers even two days later.


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11 thoughts on “Patience Rocks

  1. I’m so glad you came to your senses.
    This reminds me of the time I took a niece to Paris to celebrate her completion of graduate school. Our plane landed in the early morning and we had about an hour to kill before being picked up in front of our hotel for a city tour. We passed the time with a cup of hot chocolate. “I’m soooo cold and soooo tired,” she said. “Niece,” I retorted, “look around–you are at a sidewalk cafe in Paris!” She realized how silly she was being and perked up immediately.

    That was a really long way of saying that I really liked this post.

  2. HIF: I hear you. I once ruined a vacation with my wife to the Bahamas because I don’t like warm weather, the beach or the ocean. Seriously, this was a FREE trip she earned by being a top performer at work. We were put up for three days in a gorgeous beachfront resort. I spent 10 minutes sunning myself out by the water and I was done for the trip. But unlike your niece, instead of coming to my senses I camped out in the casino and lost lots of money.

    That was really just a long way of saying thank you for liking the post.

  3. Patience is a virtue that we all need constant practice with. When we do manage to pull it off, the rewards are great for us and all those around us. Good post.

  4. As you get older, it becomes easier to appreciate what you have and less painful to think about what you don’t.

    We all make choices and sacrifices – some work out well, some don’t. But the one thing you can never get back is time. You can’t make up the time you didn’t spend with your kids when they were little and full of awe. You can’t get back the looks on their faces at that stage.

    At least – not until you have grandchildren! Then you try and make up for it in spades! :)

  5. A couple of months ago the power went out. My first thought “Well, crap.” It was just me and Evan, my 11 year old son. We had nothing to do. We lit about 50 candles and he got his guitar and played for me. It was magical. He had my complete attention, something he loved. I had my son performing for me, something I love since he usually locks himself in his room to practice and I have to listen through the door.

  6. My poor children are not going to have any patience because I have none so I can’t very well pass that trait along. I try. I want to be patient. I just always seem to fall short of that mark.

  7. This reminds me of when I took my sun to a beach outside of town on Monday. All he wanted to do was go for the water. And I didn’t let him. Needless to say a battle of will ensued. I had even thought to bring a change of clothes for him. I managed to distract him and he had free reign of the beach and there was no worry about traffic and him running into it. As a mom, sometimes I need to just let go.

  8. Glad God doesn’t get impatient with His children.

    He still gives the best example to follow:

    Matthew 19:14 (The Message):
    To Enter God’s Kingdom
    One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, he left.

    Isn’t that just like people? Always trying to mold people into “their image” and God says to let them come to Him just as they are. He was already blessing them with His love and attention without their parents trying to vie for it.

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