The discussion topic from my church's moms' group this morning was the Fruits of the Spirit, among them "patience, kindness, and self control". We had a discussion about how we exhibit those Fruits in our daily interactions with our children. I did not have a lot to add because, while I *try* to demonstrate patience, kindness, and self-control sometimes I just need everyone to GET IN THE $#@$$#@ CAR ALREADY. What more is there to say? The woman I was sitting next to, my friend who has two three year olds, and I made many sarcastic remarks to one another. Many of them about wine.
All kidding aside, the conversation stuck with me as we left the classroom and picked everyone up at the nursery and made our way (PAINFULLY SLOWLY) out to the car to go home.
We had a delightful afternoon afterward. James took a long nap and Charlie and Wes played outside (INDEPENDENTLY!) for about an hour. I burned through a few loads of laundry then vacuumed the living room, swept the kitchen, and did all the dishes. I also spent a lot of time eating Valentine's candy and perusing Facebook to be perfectly honest, I'm not some kind of Stepford wife.
"I've got this Fruits of the Spirit thing LOCKED UP" I thought. But the real test was yet to come.
Charlie wanted to walk to the grocery store instead of driving, which was a great idea. The weather was nice and we only needed dinner ingredients, so we set out for the store. We got there fine, got all of our groceries with no trouble, and then headed back. That's when I *paid* for being such a snarky jerk during moms' group. Wes found something INCREDIBLY FASCINATING on the ground approximately every eighteen inches. The walk is only half a mile, but it took us about four hours just to get across the parking lot. He was really being adorable, dropping rocks into a puddle and laughing, but I had cheese and sour cream warming in the pus bag and I really wanted to get home before Wild Kratts, which is the backdrop for my thirty-minute daily check-out time. I need that time to gear up for the 4:30-6:00 ninety minutes of whining, fighting, dinner-making hell. So I prodded him along as gently as I could and tried not to get too flustered when Charlie ran ahead, leaving me on a dirt two-track in the middle of a field with a fully-loaded stroller and a good fifty yards of rocky ground between me and both big kids, in opposite directions. "Stay together, everyone!" I trilled. I am calm and patient! Look at me! "GET YOUR BOTTOM OVER HERE RIGHT NOW OR I SWEAR I WILL LEAVE YOU OUT HERE" I mean "Weeeesss! Precious, darling boy! Let's stay together, Cutiepie! Time to go!" Am calm, patient, and slightly schizophrenic.
We finally made it home and got the TV going just in the nick of time when James began what turned out to be a two-hour, impossibly loud given the size of his body, meltdown.
"Patience, kindness, self control" I reminded myself as I bounced him on my hip. It's either teeth or another ear infection (join the James William ear tube placement surgery betting pool today!), or, in my experience, it is a more insidious problem called "One Year Old". Whatever the cause, nothing helped--not food, not milk, not water, not holding, not a diaper change, not Motrin. I thought maybe he'd like to go outside so we gathered the bikes and trooped down to the culdesac but all that did was move the party to my neighbor's driveway, where we could more effectively share the velociraptor noise he was making with the rest of the neighborhood. Special times!
We got in our mutually agreed upon walking order for the one-hundred yard walk home (Charlie first, then Wes, then me and James). Charlie sped off, as usual, then turned funny and crashed about halfway to the house. He was lying on the grass screaming and all tangled up in his bike, so I ran past Wes to get to him, which made Wes FREAK the FREAK OUT. He laid his tiny little thirty pound body on the sidewalk and refused to budge. Being full of patience, kindness, and self control as I was, I resisted the urge to drag him home under one arm and plunk him in the timeout chair indefinitely and instead patiently, kindly, and with great self control walked the rest of the way home with Charlie and James, then stood on the driveway watching him have a conniption on the sidewalk and hoping with my entire being that our neighbors would come out to walk their dog, thus distracting slash embarassing him into standing up and walking like a human.
After ten minutes it became clear that he was in it for the long haul. As you can imagine, by this point I was BRIMMING with patience, kindness, and self control, but James was ALSO freaking out and we needed to get inside, pronto, before someone called the police. Not wanting to back down, since this is one of our focus areas with Wes right now (freaking out and refusing to walk), I asked Charlie if he wanted to go help Wes. Charlie spent two minutes talking to him while I watched from afar, then Wes got on his bike and pedaled home like nothing had happened.
When Charlie got back, I hugged him and remarked how proud I was of him for being so kind and patient with Wes. It's not something that comes easily for him these days. I asked him what he had said to Wes and Charlie shrugged and said "A brother knows how to make a brother feel happy" then turned and walked into the garage.
The rest of the evening was not easy, James was miserable, but I was so happy to have a tiny peek into the reason we try (struggle) to maintain those Fruits of the Spirit. It's for the little eyes.