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Ever since my girls were little, I've tried to teach them patience. I well remember getting them to count to ten when we had to wait for something. I would tell them, "Count real slow." If they counted "too fast" because I knew they would be finished before whatever we were waiting for was, I would say, "No, that's too fast. You have to start over."

It was a game, and it worked. It gave them something to think about other than what they so desperately wanted. By the time they got to ten, it was ready.

This Christmas I found out that those early lessons with my girls are paying off. My girls, now 9 and 5, were at Grandma's house Christmas morning. They awoke, as most children do on Christmas morning, very early.

When Grandma got up at 8:30 after a late night of playing games and visiting, she found the two of them in the living room looking at the wrapped presents and whispering. Not a box had been touched.

Grandpa got up at nine, and they ate some breakfast. Daddy got up about ten. By that time, the girls had sorted the boxes into Stefani's stack, Kayla's stack, Andrew's stack, etc. and still they were sitting patiently ? examining, shaking, holding, discussing, but never opening.

Daddy, being the teasing guy that he is, tried to talk them into opening "just one." But they flatly refused until Mommy and Andrew could be there.

At 10:45, their baby brother woke up, and after a short discussion they decided they'd better wake Mom up because there was no telling how long she might sleep if they didn't.

The first I knew of any of this was when the four of them appeared at my bedside saying, "Mom, wake up. We just can't wait anymore."

I don't know how long my mother will be alive, but I can guarantee she will forever marvel about those few hours on a bright Christmas morn when her two young granddaughters showed her the meaning of real patience.

Copyright 2005, Staci Stallings

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