As the Beloved Husband can attest, I am not known for my patience. Usually, tasks that require a lot of attention to detail, or an amount of time that seems disproportionate to the amount of joy attained, do not get my seal of approval. If I can’t get something done quickly, I normally just roll my eyes, sigh, and pass it off to BH, who has more than enough patience for the two of us. And I hate to admit it, but my children have come to recognise this relationship that I and their father have towards patience.
So recently, about a week ago, the Boy had a problem that only adult fingers could solve: He has little trucks that come with tiny hooks attached to strings, meant to pull other little trucks. Well, in the course of play, the string had become knotted and wound up around one of the tires of the truck. I guess he knew better than to offer it to me, because he immediately asked his Papa to come to the rescue. After a couple of minutes, BH could only manage so much, and handed it back to the Boy, saying, “I’m afraid that this is all I can do. Looks like it’s stuck.” The Boy sadly took back his truck.
Maybe because I like challenges, or maybe because I thought that most of the hard work had already been done, but I volunteered myself for the task. “May I try it?” I asked.
The Boy looked at me for a brief second, before asking cautiously, “Do you want to?” He was momentarily taken aback by my magnanimous gesture, knowing how impatient and easily frustrated I can get, while I was momentarily stopped by the amount of concern that he had for me instead of for his own wants.
“Of course I do,” I replied. And I set to work for the next ten minutes, unwinding, unknotting, and untwisting. And when I finally had the task accomplished, and handed the truck over to him with a “Ta daa!”, he looked at me simply and said, not “Thank you”, as he had been taught to do, but a quiet, “I love you.”
Through these simple words of not “thank you” but “I love you”, I realised several things: How (unfortunately) transparently I had allowed my impatience to be shown to my children. How my Boy had put my own wants ahead of his own. How my Boy had learned to express simple gratitude in the most powerful way. And most of all, how much patience and faith my child had in me.