Knowledge November - Day 18 - Patience
Patience has never been my strong point.
Whereas my brothers could set up the wooden blocks, Meccano or Lego and create intricate little cities in our pool room (yes, we had a pool room that Darryl from The Castle would have loved), for days on end, I’d have a go for a while and then once all the fun of setting it up had ended would wander off, already bored.
Dad would teach the boys how to play Crib and Chess on our caravan holidays, look over at me hunched on the bunk with my nose in a Gnid Blyton and say, “Would you like to play?” knowing that my answer would always be a muttered, “No way Dad.”
It’s always amused my father that my ability (and therefore interest) in completing crosswords or those hellish cryptic versions is akin to that of a squashed snail's and I don’t want to expend any valuable time on trying to improve those skills. Same goes for Sudoku, Edward DeBono’s ‘Mind Pack’ (still unwrapped after 12 years), inscrutable word puzzles and Christmas games of Scrabble with my mother or brother Rob where mathematics and careful placement of tiles in order to earn a higher score is required on top of merely formulating a word.
Boggle, on the other hand, is MY game. Two minutes of sand and a mad scribble on paper. Perfect. Not unlike the way I make an omelette – a quick beat with a fork then into a cereal bowl and nuked in the microwave for 45 seconds; the same time it would take to come up with at least 10 words of six letters or less.
And yet, once a child arrives, the quantities and qualities of patience undergoes a huge change.
I still don’t eagerly flick to the puzzles section of the newspaper or want to know what the hell kind of Nintendo pip-pip-pip game Sapphire is engrossed in or trade fish or farm animals for pearls or hay bales or some kind of online flim flummery on Facebook but I can sit at a kitchen table for SEVEN hours rolling tiny strips of paper onto satay sticks.
Sapphire was keen to spend a day with me doing arts and crafts and stood at my side as I tapped away on the keyboard, brandishing her large ‘You Can Do It’ activity book in front of my face. “Mum, Dad’s not here, we’ve got all day and you said you wanted to do something with me today and THIS is what I want to do.”
She had me at ‘Dad’s not here’, and the associated guilt involved in having an only child, a free Sunday and heaps of spare coloured paper and glue sticks. Alrighty then.
We cut, rolled and glued until our bellies rumbled and fingers ached. We broke for lunch, then resumed our painstaking task, with Sapphire wisely noting that “this is something that they probably do overseas for us to buy at the Oxfam shop” and that no, she didn’t want to be as famous as Lady Gaga or Britney Spears “because then people would only love me for my money, not for me, and you’ve said that love is hard to find and precious to keep, so I’d rather be unknown and liked even though my hair goes BOING on one side and I can’t breathe out of my nose.”
Colours were carefully selected and discussions held on what kinds of jewellery we’d make for the important women in our lives. (“If I made a bracelet for Dad, he’d say ‘thanks love’ and then hang it on his handlebars so that he could lose it”) and why those women were important. “My Auntie WC is interested in exactly the same things as me and is my best friend on Facebook,” “Auntie S is very beautiful and never loses her temper,” and “Grandma always finds the right thing for me to play with or wear or do and has lots of friends at church called Rhonda or Helen.”
My neck today is sore, not so much from the constant bending over our beadwork, but from slyly turning leftways to sneak some views of my daughter as she worked. Her slim neck, cobweb-fine hair, soft skin, rose-bud lips busily chattering and long fingers nimbly rolling the paper. How did we make such a beautiful creature?
This patience has given me the privilege of spending time with her, laughing at our silly songs and our made-up swear words. At 5pm, I push my chair back and say, “It’s time for you to feed Skipper and for me to rustle up something for our tea.”
She stretches back languidly and nods. “Mum, you know that Taylor Swift album you got me last year?”
“She has a song on it I like. It’s about her being with her Mum and it’s her best day.”
I put the onion on the chopping board, pausing to listen.
“Today is like that.”
Patience makes me cry.