Patience has never been my strong forte. I guess it had to do with the fact that I was an only child and pretty much grew up with other boys my age. I never had any girl cousins or friends who were around my age and that automatically meant that I had the normal ‘rough and tumble’ childhood that every boy born in the 80s had.
This was further compounded by the fact that I studied in an all boys’ school from my 5th Standard till I completed my 10th Standard. And growing up with so much testosterone around me and within me meant that the particular hormone which would generate patience within me (if there is such a hormone) didn’t quite work well at all.
Net result, I ended up having a reasonably short fuse. If things didn’t go my way, or the way they were supposed to, I ended up losing my patience quite a bit. It took me joining a college with more than 2/3rds of the population being girls, and the fact that I actually made a few friends with girls quite early on in my college days for me to realize that the patience hormone existed in me as well. College taught me how to take things in my stride without necessarily getting angry and worked up about the fact that they didn’t necessarily go according to plan.
And surprise, surprise, when I got married, I realized that my wife was also similar to me in that particular aspect. While her fuse was much longer than mine, the occasional outbursts that she would have in our early married days gave me much joy. It helped me realize that I was not a stark raving lunatic as I would have myself believe, and that our patience levels were reasonably compatible.
All of this however changed two years and a month ago for both of us. Little R coming into both our lives taught us that we had a reservoir of patience within us which we probably had reserved for bringing her up. While it is one thing to read up on how to bring up kids during the first and probably the most critical year of their lives, these books don’t necessarily prepare us for ground reality. These books, and websites, at best are pointers towards what to expect rather than how much to expect.
My wife got her lessons in being patient, courtesy the fact that Little R was not a night sleeper at all during her first few months. She was the type of infant who would need to be fed as soon as she opened her eyes, which meant that my wife hardly got any sleep during the first six months of motherhood. And the low reserves of patience coupled with sleep deprivation meant that she was in a perennial bad mood during that time. It was only after Little R’s sleep cycles slowly started matching ours that her patience levels increased gradually.
And once Little R started crawling around, and walking on her knees, that was the next big test of patience for both of us. While she was a good little girl who never used to crawl to the dangerous or creepy little corners of the house, the fact that she pretty much had a mind of her own in terms of figuring out when she wanted to crawl and when she wanted to be carried meant that we had to have a watchful eye on her almost all the time, watching out for her mood and figuring out the appropriate course of action.
The last year, since Little R has started walking, talking and in general having opinions of her own has been the biggest test of patience for my wife and me. And these tests come in various forms at various times of the day. Sample this, when we prepare Little R for her walk in the evening, put on her diapers, dress her up, she ends up pooping after we put on her shoes, and then put on our shoes.
And this effectively means that we have to undress her almost completely, clean her and then re-dress her, and given the fickle Bangalore monsoon weather, there were more than a few days that we lost our walking ‘window’ because it just starts to rain. And then there have been numerous occasions when Little R insists on walking all the way, even when there is a busy intersection or a busy main road to be crossed, she refuses to be carried across, and wants to walk across. Even if my wife or me forcibly try to carry her, she squirms, screams and in general causes a scene on the road. Now, if that is not a test of patience, what is.
Now while the above instances were patience tests of an outdoorsy variety, there are quite a few incidents of the funny variety as well. The past few days, when Little R announces that she wants to poop, my wife or me take her to the bathroom, sit her on the pot and stand next to her waiting for her to do her ‘job’. And it is precisely at this moment that Little R decides that it is a good time to start reciting her ‘Ring-a-ring-a roses’ or ‘Baa baa black sheep’ rhymes. And the funny part is she doesn’t do her ‘job’ until the rhyme is sung by us as well and finished to her satisfaction. While this was funny for the first few times that she did this, the fact that she is doing this almost every time she wants to poop, which is at least twice a day makes this whole excursion a test of patience.
As the saying goes Child is the father of man and given that my father didn’t quite teach me how to be patient enough, I guess Little R has taken it on herself to ensure that I become more and more patient with each passing day.
Go ahead and share your ‘patience anecdotes’ as comments to this post. At least the rest of us can have a laugh, right.
Jairam Mohan is a 33 yr old father, of an almost 2-year-old daughter, settled in Bangalore. He and his wife tend to see the funny side of things in life which helps them maintain sanity in their otherwise crazy and stressful working lives. While his day job involves poring over Excel spreadsheets and preparing PowerPoint presentations, his other hobbies include frequent updation of his blog on varied topics and watching/writing about movies.