Thursday, July 9, 2009

Just a Little Patience

For 15 minutes, I sat beside the Bean as he struggled to put on his socks. I listened to the constant refrain of, “I can’t do it!” while he made half-hearted attempts to slip them over his feet. Bouts of crying were punctuated with the inappropriate giggles of a boy who was obviously tired. It would have been so easy to intervene and put the socks on for him, but I stayed next to him nudging him back on track whenever he tried to procrastinate from the task at hand. Many times he wanted to give up, but with steadfast conviction I refused to let him. I knew that he could do it because, as I told him, “I’ve seen you do it before.”

Like every parent before and after me, I sometimes have no patience for my children. But there are other times when I find that I have the laser sharp focus to guide them through the minute tasks of life. It becomes a challenge to me that’s not unlike playing a video game. Though I love video games, I’m not very good at them so I’ve often found myself spending hours trying to get through a level—refusing to give up until I’ve gotten past it. The same patience and perseverance that allows me to tirelessly repeat a board in order to figure out the exact timing to land Mario on the platform also allows me to not grow frustrated as I watch my son learn how to do something like get dressed by himself. Getting that pixilated figure to stick the landing comes with a great sense of accomplishment. However, when the Bean achieves his goal, we both share in the success.

As the evening wore on and the Bean was still barefoot, I had a choice to make. I could end his frustration and whining by putting the socks on for him, or I could make him stick it out. It was the end of the day and I was tired and hungry, fantasizing about the tasty chicken dinner that was waiting for me in the next room. My choice was easy. There was a lesson to be taught here. If I let him give up on this simple thing, what's to stop him from giving up on the bigger things? It took some time, and a few tears, but the Bean was eventually successful. His face beamed with pride as he padded on his now sock-adorned feet down the hall and into his bedroom. As I finally bit into my meal, my face did too.


14 comments:

SciFi Dad said...

Well said, sir.

Now, if you're spending hours on Super Mario, you may want to consider a new hobby, because video games just aren't for you.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Lol@ video game analogy.

But what u said is true. It was the same issue for me and helping my boy wash dishes.

Patience is definitely an issue!

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

And a virtue!

ZenMom said...

I often say that my children are teaching me patience - one grueling lesson at a time. :)

But patience lessons from video games - Love it. Very zen. ;)

You, sir, are a Good Dad.

But I do have one question: What kind of Southern Californian are you that your child is wearing socks in July?! My kids haven't seen a pair of socks (unless puppets count) since May!

Daddy Geek Boy said...

ZenMom...Trust me, he's a little California kid, who every day asks to wear "short with short sleeves with no socks and no long sleeves."

He wears socks to sleep.

Trooper Thorn said...

Hmm, love as a motivator instead of shame. I'll have to remember that...

Your escalator operator said...

I'm going to save this for when I'm old and sock-putting-on will be just as challenging.

Like how you told this story.

James (SeattleDad) said...

Kudos to you for sticking it out. I like your parenting style.

Vancetastic said...

Speaking of video games, when are you getting the new Punchout for the Wii and inviting me over?

Jenny F. said...

Loved this story. You are a wonderful dad. Just today I spent a good 6 minutes trying to get my 2.5 year old to put the proper croc on the proper foot. As far as dressing goes, the "Flip & Zip" to put on a jacket is my personal favorite. How my little girl's face lights up after a successful flip is priceless. We're still working on the zip...all in good time.

creative-type dad said...

Unfortunately my kid takes forever just to delay going to sleep.

She can put sock on like a Ninja. Just not in front of me.

Lady Mama said...

If there's one thing being a parent has taught me it's patience. Sometimes it's tempting to help them out just to get things done faster. Good for you for waiting with him while he figured it out.

Captain Dumbass said...

It can be the most frustrating thing watching them puzzle through something, but I think it's important to make them do it. It's that fruit fly like attention span that kills me.

SAHD DAD said...

Apparently it's a darn good thing that the skills I learned while playing video games aren't the ones I use to parent. Whenever I had to spend that kind of time learning to time a jump right I almost always ended up using percussive maintenance. Social Services tends to frown on people doing that with children.

My SAHD Life