I put down my hairdryer and walk to the bedroom where my kids are screaming at one another.
"MOMMEEEE!!! GET O OFF THE SCALE SO I CAN GET ON THERE!!"
The boys are fighting over my scale. My older son points his index finger at his brother's head accusingly. His younger brother is standing firm on the scale, clad only in a diaper, stiff in protest, refusing to move off. He's tired of being pushed around.
"GET HIM OFFFFFFF!!! O! GET OOOFFF!!!"
It's Sunday morning and I'm too calm to be bothered by this display of brotherly affection.
"M, just wait. Let O have his turn on the scale, wait until he's done and then take your turn."
"BUT... BUT... BUT... HOW LONG IS HE GOING TO BEEEE? "OOO!!!!!"
"I don't know. Just wait and be patient."
My sons stares at me with all the incredulity a three (nearly four) year old can muster.
I realize, it's an incredible thing to ask of a child his age - to be patient. I've only just begun to understand it myself. In fact, it wasn't until I became a parent that I really asked myself what it meant and gradually began to see how helpful it could be.
So we've been talking about it a lot lately - this thing called patience.
"What does the word "patience" mean, M?" I'll ask my son when I sense an outburst coming, encouraging him to repeat its meaning back to me.
"Um...." He thinks, looking around, up at the sky, searching his brain for a hint. "It means.... to wait?"
"Yes exactly! To wait, nicely, quietly."
I've learned the hard way that patience is a fine and delicate art that takes time - maybe a life time - to master. But, if we can crack it, we might have the answer to a million dilemmas. We might soothe a situation that's spiraling away from us, or find calm where else there might be rage.
I'm impatient by nature, but I'm working on it.
Because if I wasn't so impatient I could spend more time enjoying the moments with my family and less time thinking about what's next - wondering what's for dinner, how many emails I have to respond to in the next day, how I'm going to find a new babysitter, make it to the post office before it shuts, get to the grocery store, etc.
If I had more patience maybe I'd see beauty in ordinary things instead of skipping past them all the time, always in a hurry.
And maybe I'd appreciate more sensitively that this precious time is so much more than a day to get through or a dinner that will need to be cleared away ready for the next one. And that if things are not exactly as I want them to be right at this very moment, it's okay, because it's this moment that matters and it'll never come again.
If patience is a lesson, then I'm going to be a student for a long time yet.
As for my son?
He looks from me, back to his brother. I wait, thinking how marvelous it will be that my sons will be the most patient sons in the world. Maybe they'll teach it to others.
"GERROFF THE SCALE O IT'S MY TURN!!!" and with that he shoves his brother off the scale, who lands on the floor, horrified, and in turns begins the process of screaming and wailing for his turn.
I guess it's going to take them a while too.