Friday, May 11, 2007

It was a simple request; what I thought to be a common prayer to simply make me a better father, husband and person. As 2006 closed out its days, I took it upon myself to pray to the Almighty for greater patience. Not that I don't have an adequate parental amount, but one can never ever have enough patience. So, the daily prayer for an extra spoonful of patience began...

And no sooner than the prayers began in the early days of 2007, so did the subtle behavior of our three-year-old triplets. Emily suddenly became more definitive in what she likes to do and not do, and no one is going to tell her any different. Especially her father. Hannah followed suit, with sudden pouting episodes where she wouldn't tell you why she was dissatisfied with a situation... but you could tell it in her face. Then there is Nicholas; wonderfully inquisitive and artistically destructive Nicholas...

Last week, Nicholas decided to further display his artistic tendencies by taking an unattended 3/4 full syrup bottle from the kitchen counter island. He then chose - with the bottle upside down and open - to begin his creative swirls on the kitchen floor, table and counter. From there, he continued into the white carpeted dining room (shown below), where he circled the dining room table twice; only stopping to swirl a few creative circles and blotches. From there, the trail looks like it then weaved its way through the formal living room (also decorated in white carpet).

It was Emily that "ratted" Nicholas out, yelling, "Daddy, Nicholas has the syrup and he's making a mess!" It had been less than two minutes since I had stepped from the kitchen and into the family room... and Nicholas' work was now done. He stood innocently satisfied at the entrance of the formal living room and confessed, "I hid the syrup bottle under the table."

It was at this moment, I remembered my daily prayer, my simple request, of greater patience. If there was a time that I needed that patience, it was now. It's the first time I've had to count to 10 before I gave Nicholas a healthy time-out and began contacting local steam cleaning professionals.

Since none could come to our home immediately, I had to resort to the Bissell upright steam cleaner we purchased when the triplets were born. We hoped we would not need such a machine for events like this, but we are glad that we got the cleaner for just such events as this one.

I kept thinking to myself, "Okay, get it together, Lee. And hey, you up there in the Grand Beyond, how come you're not pumping me up with an extra large dose of patience?!"

Ten cycles of steam cleaning and several reflective thoughts later, I realized that my prayer was indeed being answered in so many ways... but in none of the ways that I had predicted or expected. I guess what I was expecting was that I would receive an extra dose of patience along with the everyday events that were already occurring. But Life doesn't unfold that way, does it?

When we were young and wanted to be a better bike rider, our parents didn't decrease the amount of time we spent on the bike. In fact, they put us back on that bike again and again - usually against our wishes. They ran behind us as we developed greater trust in our ability and greater coordination... and then let go...

In my own case, I have learned that you can't run the distance of a marathon by simply resting several weeks before the race. You have to log the miles and build up the endurance to get to that proverbial "wall" and then beyond it.

Our trust and coordination have to be tested again and again in order for us to understand that Life can be "just like riding a bike." And enduring a portion of the journey also allows us the strength to complete the entire journey. Bottom line? Be careful of what you pray for. It may very well be that attribute, that skill or that dream that will be tested again and again... and again and again... For no muscle - including the heart - can become stronger without a little stress and stretching.


Post Note: Emily's definitive nature and Hannah's pouting episodes, to this day, are in no way equaled to Nicholas' creative curiosity. Just this past weekend, Nicholas was able to climb up over the laundry room counter and empty detergent on the laundry room phone. Just one hour later, he climbed up the counter far enough to get to the 409 spray and release his creative expression on the kitchen floor before Mom stopped him. Not long after that, while his mother was cleaning the floor, Nicholas tipped over her bucket of wash water - just to see what it would look like.

Needless to say, Nicholas got soaked and was in a time-out for most of Saturday morning for these events. So much so, he fell asleep on the padded Naughty Seat he frequents (photo above).

I guess, aside from all the spills and blotches and stains, I'm secretly glad that Nicholas is continually helping to teach me patience... but please, don't tell him.



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