“You don’t rush a Hempfing.” Growing up, my mom said this when she was frustrated with my father for moving slower than she wanted. My dad, a calm man, had his own pace, which often conflicted with my mom’s harried one. I’ve inherited a bit of my dad’s DNA, because although I wish I could crank out columns and publish books in record-setting style, the words move from my brain to my fingers at their own pace.
Jessie has her own pace, too. If I could accumulate all the time I’ve waited for her and put it to use, I might have several books published by now. Okay, maybe not books, but certainly an extra column or two. Parenting requires patience.
On the positive side, when Jessie begins to date, I’ll have lots of time to ask her friend questions and discuss his intentions, because Jessie won’t be ready. Then again, the thought of Dad grilling her date just might speed Jessie up.
Jessie’s slow pace is most evident when she showers. The scene in our household plays out something like this.
Jessie goes into the bathroom, shuts the door, and the sound of water pouring in the tub begins. It continues for 10 minutes or so and stops.
Sloshing sounds come from the tub.
Many minutes pass. The water comes on again and the sound of the shower starts.
The arm on the clock makes a full quarter turn. Dad knocks on the bathroom door.
“Jessie, it’s time to get out of the shower.”
“I’m almost done.”
Dad knocks again – 15 minutes later.
“Your mom and I would like some hot water, too.”
“I’m on my final rinse.”
Jessie stars in this daily repeat performance, so I’ll let her share her view from the other side of the bathroom door.
Jessie, Age 10
My mother, father, and I have always had a disagreement about the proper length of showers. My mother and father think that 15 minutes is fine. I disagree. First, I like about an hour to soak in the tub. Then I still take around 30 minutes in the shower. I get inspired by the water trickling over me. I make up songs and dance routines. I try songs already made up, with different voices. Some include southern, goofy, and prissy.
Also, I can’t hear myself sing over the pitter patter of the water hitting the plastic bottom of the tub, so I just sing louder. My parents don’t like to hear loud screaming coming from the bathroom, so they shorten the length of my showers. I am silent when rushed. Now back to Dad.
It’s hard to get my girl to care about the water and electric bill, and I’m amazed our hot water heater hasn’t worn out. I’m not shocked, though, that little hot water is available for me if I jump into the shower after Jessie has finished hers. So yes, I’ve tried to get her to pick up the pace. Like my mom trying to speed up my dad, it hasn’t done much good.
Since Jessie brought it up, I must discuss her “song and dance routines.” Writing takes focus, and during Jessie’s showers, I hear a lot more than the pitter patter of our water bill going up. Our little “shower star” doesn’t shower quietly … or carefully. Her dance routines sometimes involve jumps and spins landing with loud bangs, which we’ve discouraged on grounds that a slippery shower is not the best surface for leaps and turns.
Often, Jessie’s mom or I have asked Jessie to “tone it down.” However, there are more times when we glance at each other and smile or laugh during Jessie’s shower performances. She’s always been artistic. We certainly don’t want to drain her spirits, silence her joyful voice, or stop her from expressing the dance in her heart. We are blessed. Our daughter is healthy and happy – and clean. She has taught us that inspiration can’t be rushed.
But no matter how expensive the water bill gets or how noisy my work environment becomes, one thing is certain ’tween daughter and dad, I love my girl and my girl loves me.
Until next month, remember to cherish the moments.