What is the key to unlocking a child's mind? Many answers
may rise to the surface, but one that dominates them all is
"patience." The other evening the patience of G-Ma and
G-Pa was tested, but the Beast of Terror lost this battle.
Find out how to use patience to become a strong Sentinel of Vigilance
with your children, your loved ones, and, most importantly, yourself.
1, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 810
Legos, Grandchildren, And Patience
Chase The Beast Away
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Dec. 1, 2003--
Saturday night was sleep-over night for the grandchildren--little
Angus, 17 months, Sarah, 5, and Matt, 7. It was a long
night, one full of Legos, Star Wars, and, the ever-present Beast of
My wife and I took the three grandkids on
Saturday night so our daughter and her husband might have a private,
relaxed evening sans the cacophony of three kids.
We hauled all the
grandchildren goodies up the 59 steps to our fifth floor East Village
apartment and unleashed the kids to their secondary playground.
Our apartment is child-friendly, with a room full of toys and a giant
television screen to display their favorite children's videos such as
Rescue Heroes, Little Bear and Scooby Do.
Popcorn exploded in the microwave as Angus leaped
from the gnarled redwood coffee table onto my expansive gut and Matt
and Sarah glued their eyes to Scooby Do adventures.
furious Angus never stopped needing a watchful eye
G-Ma Lori watched
with mother-goose Vigilance the every move of fast and furious Angus,
a bundle of muscular energy who never seems to stop exploring or
demanding a watchful eye.
For a moment I forgot about the war in Iraq or
the 434 U.S. deaths since November 25, 298 of which occurred as a
result of hostile fire, and 136 in non-hostile action.
I didn't have much time to wonder what next "Beast-of-Terror" act
would explode onto the television screen or who would slam the next
arrow into the heart of Vigilance of a nation locked in a mortal
battle with the Beast of Terror's efforts to make the U.S. run with
its tail tucked under its legs from the tyranny and oppression of
those who seek to revel over blasting American Vigilance policy.
Grandchildren have a way of forcing one to
remember the "prime directive"--to be a loving, caring friend of the
child, interested in their whims and concerns, a guide directing them
down a circuitous path of life filled with many dead-ends and lined
briars and brambles that rip and tear at their nubile flesh.
My wife and I
believe the shaping of kids by concerned parental hands will
effect the final products
at the kids as a lump of clay. Somehow, I believe,
as my wife does, that the shaping of that lump by concerned parental
hands will have some effect on the final product, will bolster the
child to withstand the Beast of Terror's wrath when he hisses upon
them his fetid breath putrefied by Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
As a Grandparent of Vigilance, I look upon
the role of Vigilance as helping the children learn the Courage to
face their Fears, the Conviction to overcome their Intimidations and,
ultimately, to remind the children that their overall goal as
human beings is to not be afraid or hesitant to take the Right Actions
in life that benefit the Children's Children's Children--or, more
simply put, to be more selfless in their actions than selfish.
We don't hold classes on this subject--not
directly. It is woven into the thread of our parenting, as
it is with countless millions of parents who are more concerned with
the future of their children than they are themselves.
Selfish parents tend to think they can buy a child's happiness;
selfless ones know they can, at the best, be teachers, models and
guides on the child's journey.
in children's shoes means a re-soling of my own shoes
pretend to be totally selfless. The best I can attempt is to be
at least One Percent more selfless with the grandchildren than
selfish. Like watching Scooby-Do, not one of my favorite
television programs, but one that I will force my adult, narrow mind
to watch in an effort to learn what makes the children smile, laugh
and enjoy. Putting ones self into a child's shoes means
ripping away a lot of old, crusty and often rusty views to receive the
messages that make your progeny glow and enjoy the moment.
Legos is one such instrument.
My wife got Matt the Lego Millennium Falcon mini building set.
It came in two plastic packages, teeming with countless pieces of
small plastic parts which, if you carefully followed the directions,
could be engineered into a space ship that comes straight from the
film Star Wars.
My grandson and I
turned to the project while my wife and Sarah worked on a variety of
games that girls enjoy. Angus shuttled between the living
room and the kids room, running up and down the halls like a photon
torpedo, reminding us all that whenever he appeared at any docking
station his little inquisitive hands would reach for items, or his
hungry little mind would want to participate in whatever playtime we
You learn to adjust to the youngest's
demands for attention by reminding the child that this belongs to
brother Matt or sister Sarah, or to G-Ma or G-Pa. Some
boundaries are necessary to thwart the every reaching hands that test
the limits of the universe's borders.
Angus is pretty good about borders.
He has learned that certain areas belong to other people and will
stand and watch, little fingers tentatively testing the resolve of the
Sentinel of Space Vigilance to see if the borders still exist.
"No, Angus, this is Matt's. Here,
this is yours."
A wise Grandparent of Vigilance always has
Angus toys ready to give to the inquisitive child, to assure the child
is not excluded from activity, but at the same time limiting the
activity so it doesn't create havoc.
teaching me a lesson in patience..." my grandson informed his G-Ma
Matt, in a
rush to put the Millennium Falcon together as swiftly as possible,
missed some of the directions and we had to take it apart and then put
it back together again. I reminded him to be "patient" and to
"double check" each step so he wouldn't have to backtrack.
"G-Pa's teaching me a lesson in
patience, G-Ma," he said to my wife as she mother-goosed her way
behind Angus, double checking on him as he scooted here and there
around the small but adventure-laden apartment we habitat.
I thought about what Matt said.
"A lesson in patience." Sometimes, we who claim to
be Sentinels of Vigilance, forget what we do for a living. It
takes a comment like Matt's to bring us back to center.
It was more than Matt and I
putting together a Lego toy. It turned out to be a lesson in not
being Intimidated by the process. Matt, who often gets
frustrated and irritated if things don't go "perfectly" was calm and
relaxed as he dismantled the Falcon mid-way and repaired the mistake
Later that night, Angus awoke and
decided to go home. At seventeen months, you just don't
open the door and let the little one saying "Mama" waltz down the
streets of New York City.
From about 1a.m. until 5a.m. Angus
decided to test our patience. Would G-Ma and G-Pa crumble
under the pressure of not sleeping, and instead watching a bundle of
energy play and explore during the body's prime sleeping hours.
It was a long
It was, without a doubt, a long night. Angus got
milk bottles, juice bottles, rocks, hugs and lots of vain attempts to
put him back into a state of somnolence, but to no avail. His
eyes were glued open, his heart beat faster than an hummingbird's,
and, his legs propelled him here and there. Sleep was not
on his agenda until, finally five hours later, fatigued, he fell back
on the bed and his precious eyes shut for a few hours.
The next morning we all awoke about
the same time, 9a.m. It was a fun-filled evening for G-Pa
and G-Ma. Our patience with children was tested once more,
and we had been victorious. We both were reminded that the
child's world is far different from that of the adults, and what the
adult wants to do is often at odds with the child's mission.
Children want us to be their guides not
their wardens. They also want us to be their friends and not
their drill instructors. They seek us to help them answer
puzzling questions but not to give them all the answers, for their
minds thrive on the discovery of ideas rather than the shoveling of
them down their throats.
Vigilance with children is an arduous
process, one that many parents seem to not have time to endure.
A child tests a parents' patience, for it is often easier to tell them
what to do, when to do it, and why they should enjoy what the adult
demands of them.
parents patience by being patient themselves
stiffens the child. It ossifies the mind, makes it brittle.
It stunts the ability of the child to formulate his or her own ability
to think, for thinking is about learning how to balance the
selfishness with the selflessness. It's about learning how to
listen and then take information and apply it to a result that
benefits the most amount of people.
Matt reminded me about patience, for when
he said: "G-Pa is teaching me a lesson in patience," I realized
that Matt was really teaching me how to be patient. I remembered
I wasn't demanding Matt to put the Lego together the way I would, but
instead, was suggesting to him a way to do it with the least chance of
error, the least frustration.
Angus also tested our patience. I
thought about the parent who, frustrated with the child's energy,
shuts it in a room and yells at it to shut up. Or the one who
might slip some brandy or whiskey in the juice bottle to calm it.
Or, worse, the parent who might shake the child angrily to end the
noise of its cries.
Many children become shells, hiding
themselves within their own safety. They learn not to challenge
the parent's patience at the expense of their own self, their own
I didn't get a chance to write my story on
Sunday morning because Matt and I put another Lego mini-model
together. This time, Matt whipped it together without a single
error. He kept checking the directions, going back over each
step before moving on to the next.
patience in a child, you must first manage your own
works," G-Pa, he said, holding up the finished product.
"Yes," I replied. It really does.
As a Sentinel of Vigilance, you might consider
that patience is the key to unlocking the treasures inside a child's
mind. But, to get to a child's patience, you must
first manage your own. If you take the Pledge of
Vigilance and do your best to live by it, you'll find the key to
patience locked within it. And, that one of the finest
weapons you can use to keep the Beast of Terror away from you and your
child, is patience.