M. is a very particular fellow. I would describe him as reserved instead of shy. He doesn't take kindly to strangers, and even extended family members have to coax their way into his circle of attention. He's not a demonstrative child, but uses subtler ways to show his affection.
Yesterday we had a BBQ in the park with some friends. It was a perfect day to be outside; sunshine, summer heat, and plenty of food were our fare. M. was running around in the grass with his soccer ball and no one could've been happier. (Condos have a tendency to get even smaller in the summer time.) Joe, a guy who absolutely adores children, was trying to charm M. into playing with him.
He kept at it (on and off) for the better part of 3 hours. We finished eating and decided to go for a walk. After walking and talking, we stopped under an old tree to continue our discussions leisurely. At this point, Joe, who had (bless him) not given up, decided on a new tactic. The branches of the tree had leaves that extended downwards enough for Joe to reach. He picked a few and offered them to M.
M. took the leaves and threw them willy-nilly, laughing joyously. Joe picked more leaves. M. threw them. This continued for a few rounds. The end of the evening saw M. following Joe around like a puppy, waiting to be hoisted up to pick his own leaves. Joe's triumph was complete and all it took was patient persistance.
It's amazing how each child has their own unique buttons. What works for one doesn't necessarily work for another. For example, I find M. responds better when we ignore his temper tantrums instead of putting him on time out. It took me a while (and quite a few time outs) to figure this out.
I am not always successful, and certainly not an example of patience. However, I promised myself before we had kids that I would not give up not matter how hard the challenge. Some days are harder, but I never regret starting down this path. Hopefully at the end of the road, I'll still look back without regret. In the meantime, I'll keep Joe's triumph as a lesson in patience.