Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Thank You, Jack: Patience
Jack taught us much about patience, and not just because being a parent requires patience, which it surely does, but because HE was a patient person. He was patient with us when we made rookie mistakes raising our eldest, or “Practice Child,” as he once called himself (See Thank You, Jack: Forgiveness at a later date).
Even from Jack’s youngest years, he realized there was value in waiting.
For example, Jack would ask for Lego gift cards for his birthdays and Christmas. He saved them up from season to season until he could buy something he REALLY wanted. Just this summer, he took $400 in Lego cards to the mall to buy special sets he had wanted for so long. That took patience. It actually pained Jack to see friends “squander” their money because it was burning a hole in their pockets when they could have saved it up.
Jack was patient in the face of estrogen or low-blood-sugar-induced-mania from his mom and sister. He kept his mouth shut. He didn’t engage. Sometimes he just quietly walked away (See: Mom’s Great Wolf Lodge Meltdown, Class Party Psycho Mom, or pretty much any post labeled “Molly” or "Vacation").
Jack also saw value in waiting for a project to come together. When he, Margaret, and their friends had lemonade stands this summer to raise money to decorate a clubhouse, he was in it for the long haul, making up weird songs by the side of the road to keep morale up, never expecting parents to jump in and pay for everything as some parents do. He simply enjoyed seeing the project progress bit by bit.
Doing a 3,000-piece puzzle would be like Chinese Water Torture to me, but for Jack and his dad, it was an enjoyable exercise in patience.
I think of our favorite TV show, “The Amazing Race.” Tim and I watched for years, but we did not feel the kids were old enough for it. On Monday mornings, Jack waited for my edited synopsis of what happened on the show the night before. He kept better track of the contestants and their idiosyncrasies than I could, without ever seeing the show! Each new season, he would ask, “Is this the year we can watch Amazing Race with you?” For a long time, the answer was “No.” When we did start watching as a family, 2 seasons ago, he was overjoyed.
And speaking of tv shows and movies, Jack loved it when Margaret had a sleepover at someone else’s house, because that meant he could watch guy-type movies such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Transformers, and Pirates of the Caribbean. You see, when our family watched movies together, it was most often something that skewed younger and more girly, usually about a girl and a dog-- you get the picture. But Jack knew that if he waited, with the DVD’s in their paper mailers for days, weeks, and sometimes months, he could watch something special and guy-ish with his dad.
It was harder for Jack to be patient with himself. He could get very upset in class. And, during one sports season, he had major trouble accepting close losses. Later, he would beat himself up for getting so upset. “Mom, why did I act that way again?” But Jack persevered, grew, and matured, and in later seasons was able to serve as an example to younger boys who might have been struggling with similar issues.
Jack also had to be patient as his body grew. He did NOT like being so short, or so thin. He did push-ups and sit-ups to grow stronger and began eating a lot of foods he had spurned when he was younger and his diet consisted primarily of cheese.
I remember taking a walk with him, my arm around his shoulder. Up ahead were his dad and grandpa. I told him that what he was seeing was his future. Being so thin and wiry as an adolescent was hard, but when his friends were dealing with beer guts in about 20 years, he would most likely still be built like a 16 year old—just look at Dad and Popi! Jack smiled and told me that it didn’t really help very much right then.
Patience is hard.
And you know, I KNOW that Tim, Margaret and I are going to survive this devastating loss, this nightmare. This ripping away in an instant of what was dearest to us.
I know that in my mind and maybe even with a teeny, tiny part of my heart. I know that, but it doesn’t really help very much right now. But I’m not going to rush it. I’m going to try to be patient.