we're wrapping presents at the counter. Cole wants to choose the wrapping paper. Chase wants to choose the ribbon. Cole wants to choose the gift tag.
it take twice as long, because Cole wants to help me cut the paper, Chase is asking me "why" questions, and Cole wants to help by tearing off the pieces of tape.
they are soaking up my attention, even if it's divided. they are like glue, wanting to be near me. they want to help.
decorating the Christmas tree was the same way. an exercise in patience. Chase hung seven ornaments on one branch, and looked up at me beaming. Cole wanted to hear every story about every ornament, and find every ornament with his name on it.
baking is their very favorite. they both love mixing, cracking eggs, pouring in the ingredients. Cole painstakingly sounds out the words of the recipe that he knows - it takes forever, but its worth it, because he's so proud afterward. it's messy and crazy and loud. I have to remind them (and myself) to be patient for each of the steps. but when we're all done and ready to deliver the bread to the neighbors, they walk with me - Cole running (why walk when you can run?) and Chase with his toddling steps, his hand thrust trustingly in mine - to the neighbors, and Cole declares, "The neighbors will love the bread we made!"
every step. every bit of Christmas preparation. every bit of ANY preparation. it takes longer, more patience, more planning, more effort on my part. some days, I'm frustrated. can't I just once fully concentrate on a single activity at a time? not have to corral littles and direct and pay extra attention and clean up extra messes?
but then I remember how valuable this time spent with them is. how I am modeling patience and grace for them, so they will in turn model it with each other and others. and I remember what a privilege, what an absolute privilege it is that they WANT to be with me. someday they won't want to talk to me, bake with me, decorate the tree, help. and that day will arrive sooner if I'm impatient, rushed, frustrated, or controlling. I want to teach them to be capable, confident, helpful young men - so I put forth the patience now.
more than it matters to have a perfectly decorated tree; to have flour spilled all over the floor; to have mismatched name tags and ribbon and wrapping paper; what matters most is their beautiful, helpful, loving hearts - and I'll use every ounce of patience I have to make sure their spirits aren't crushed.