Tonight, after a busy week (standard fare a a school in June) I taught my son the phrase: “A watched pot never boils.”
He was helping me make homemade noodles for a vegetable soup that my kids like a lot, and after rolling out the semolina and cutting rough hewn strips, he was itching to get them into the pot.
Standing on a step stool by the stove, raw noodles melting between his fingers, he stared down at the water waiting to see bubbles rise to the top. It wasn’t happening.
As a principal, I know what he was feeling. With a clear vision in mind, it’s hard to be patient when things aren’t moving as quickly as I would like.
Sometimes it’s a matter of ingredients; gathering all the right pieces to bring to life the reality you know is possible isn’t a simple task. Sometimes it’s time; just as water heats before it boils, schools don’t spring fully formed from any administrator’s brow. And sometimes things are moving at the pace they should, and it’s simply patience that is required.
“Why doesn’t it boil?” he asked, his six year old mind uncertain about the laws of physics.
“It’s not that,” I answered, channeling my inner Atticus. “It just seems like it won’t happen when we’re impatient.”
So he frowned down at the water, gave it another look, and walked back over to the plate of uncooked noodles ready to be made into soup. “How long do I have to wait?” he asked.
“Not too long,” I answered, knowing it was true, and that there was a lesson in this for me too.
Patience is a virtue I’ve never found easy. No matter how I cultivate patience, weeds of eager energy always find a way into the garden.
Parenthood has helped, as my role as alleged adult makes me conscious of how important it is to learn the lessons of childhood that will make my kids better adults than I am myself.
We did our best to ignore the stubborn pot, at least until we saw steam rolling out from under the hood of the stove.
Then, like children chasing an ice cream truck, or a principal chasing the dream of a perfect school, we rushed to the water and hand over fist, we stood together feeding strips of dough into the boiling, bubbling water.