Searching for patience

It has occurred to me that, as some point in the parenting process, your children begin to turn on you.

I doubt that it’s done maliciously – in fact, I assume that it happens without them even knowing. It’s just The Way Things Are. It’s as natural as aging – children grow, understand, comprehend their own individuality, and begin forcefully showing it in ways you hoped you could avoid.

Sierra is now two. The Terrible Twos™. The beginning of the end. She might as well be in adolescence. With this has come an independence that is jarring – her need for things to be done to her liking has gone from a cute sign of growth to a struggle for control; her mind at the crossroads of knowing exactly what she wants – and knowing most of the words needed to express it, but still held hostage by her incomplete mastery of the language.

And while I always knew it would happen, I feel I’m losing something I had always held dear.

My patience.

It was one of my positive traits. The thing you’d mention in a job interview. The thing Kerrie was always impressed by.

Now, it slips away with impressive speed.

Through whatever combination of annoyance and frustration, my patience takes death kicks from Sierra’s whining and stubbornness. Simple misunderstandings wreak havoc to my patience, my levels dropping drastically. I imagine my patience as an energy bar in Street Fighter, with Sierra’s moves and combinations quickly knocking it down in huge chunks.

Which goes to prove, as parents, how fragile our plans for life with children really are.

Because I was never going to be the “quick to lose patience” father. I was going to let things go, understanding that children are smarter than the credit they receive, and that no father/daughter relationship was ever made stronger through short tempers and a lack of patience.

But here I am: snapping at Sierra, raising my voice over the din of her persistent noise, pleading, giving up, letting it ride out and hating myself for letting it get so far. Knowing that, each loss of patience runs the risk of chiseling away at our relationship, and understanding that, without the patience I once had, I’ll never regain my parental goals.

Then, I sit down. I bury my head in my hands. I wonder where my patience has gone. When it will decide to return, and what I can do to bring it back.

This was lovingly handwritten on August 19th, 2009