On occasion I check out the Dadequate blog.
Last week I read an interview with a dad, by the name of John Blase, and one particular word really jumped out to me.
It was the word "linger."
Which is a weird word.
You have to admit it: on it's own, linger is fun to say, but sounds beyond creepy. Say it three times slowly, right now. Say it slower as you go. You have to, I'm pretty sure this rule is written in a dictionary somewhere, linger as you say it. The pronunciation of the word demands it.
You can't say the word fast.
The point, however lost it is, is not the word linger. Let me share with you the word in context.
John was asked the question: "If another father asked you for one piece of advice about being a dad, what would you tell him?"
John's response: "Linger. Linger every chance you get: tying their shoes, washing their hair, teaching them to bike, helping them with math or getting them dressed for church...linger over them when they're sad, happy, angry, confused. Linger...'Cause by god it goes fast."
More on this in a moment...
Sometimes I find myself with less than enough patience with my daughter. But today, I'm wondering if patience isn't the right request.
Sometimes I have more than enough. She'll be taking her sweet time getting her shoes, and I'm literally thinking why rush? we've got all day. And I'm not being sarcastic.
So what makes the difference?
Today, I'm thinking that presence has a lot more to do with it than patience.
Those times when I'm most impatient are also the times when my mind is elsewhere. My brain is thinking about something else, usually the place where I'm trying to be, or where I believe I should have already arrived. My frustration arises because my body is being held back, as in it cannot get to the place where my mind already is, by 30 pounds of sweetness that believes wearing one gumboot and one crock is a good idea, if only she could find that boot.
And while I'm seriously debating whether or not she even needs feet, she is skipping along looking for that gumboot.
Her entire world is about whatever she is presently doing. She has no concept of time. For her, everything in the future is in two hours, and everything in the past is yesterday.
Here's an example: at bed time I'll ask, "Makiah, do you have to go potty?"
"I went yesterday." 9 times out of 10 that is her response unless she needs to go right then. And I can tell you that she never goes a whole day without peeing.
Her world, as it is with kids in general, it lived in the present, while mine is all over.
I'm usually thinking about what's about to be, or stuck ruminating on the past that I can't change but wish I could.
And it's in those moments when I fail to be present with her that I lack patience, and my moments of greatest patience come when I'm right there loving the hunt for all things blankets, and dollies, and even gumboots.
So maybe my issue isn't patience but rather presence?
And maybe I can begin to be more present by learning to linger.
I'm pretty sure I'll never learn to linger if I can't get my mind off the next meeting, or appointment, or the store closing, or whatever bit of nonsense that my daughter has no concept of.