Persistence is showing her approaching four.
She sneaked into my office and got a pen, which she used on paper she also sneaked from my office and that happened to be an important part of a document.
"Oh no!" I said, upon discovering this, "Oh Persistence, what did you do. You went in my office---a no-no---and got my pen and paper---a no-no---and messed up my important work. I am so sad, so disappointed." I took back the pen and paper and walked to the office to return it. I stood and stared at the wall, frustrated and disappointed: why was this child so persistent, why did she not learn, what technique would work, how could I teach her to stay out of my things, oh what to do about this curiosity and getting into things---why wouldn't redirection work? I begged for patience and strength and guidance, and wished this didn't get to me. I was feeling poignantly the stress of a long summer, which felt more like a string of beratings than anything else.
In other words, I engaged in some self-pity, lots of frustration, and the usual personal berating we parents love so well when a child keeps repeating the same problem.
Behind me, a small voice said, "Mommy?"
I turned to see my little Persistence, who has grown so much this summer and yet is still so tiny. My fierce girl, so determined to keep up with her big sister, so sure of her big girl status. She will walk next door and ring the doorbell and ask the neighbors if her friend can play---something her sister still won't do. She insists on walking across the street to our other neighbors with me watching and her sister by her side---so independent. And yet, still a sweet little lap cuddler.
"Mommy, I sorry I got in your things."
I held out my arms and she ran to them. Once, she fit in one arm. Now, she still fits snug against me, and I know I will always find that she does.
My Patience is losing her patience with her sister's constant attention demands. She bears it, sometimes gracefully, sometimes not, with understanding I'd think was beyond her years. She got strength from one-on-one dates with each of us, special times with Grandma, and some inner well of tolerance older siblings often seem to have. But she, like me, is frustrated with the endless boundary testing and how frayed it makes my nerves---her nerves too. She wants the Other Mommy. The one who doesn't need daily Time Outs to compose herself and keep her cool. The one who isn't in constant crisis management mode, multi-task mode. We agree on this. Sometimes we commiserrate.
"That Persistence!" she says, "Ooooohhhhhhhh!"
"I understand," I tell her, "It's frustrating, isn't it? It's not fun when she argues with everything, and breaks rules, is it? It's not fun to watch me give her time outs and tell her she did something that was not okay, is it?"
"No! I wish she could just remember the rules and follow them!"
"This is her learning them. Learning curves can be tough, you know? We lose patience, cool, sometimes. But it's just the curve, right?"
Patience has been known to incite her little sister to naughty acts, but she has also been known to try to help her not get in trouble or help her extricate herself from trouble.
"Persistence! Tell Mommy you're sorry and won't get into her drawer again! Then you don't have to have a timeout and we can go play!"
Patience held up her special "Tissy hugs" and a special sleepover in her room as motivation for Persistence to complete potty training. That worked better than any other currency. She also will distract Persistence while I get something done, offering to read a book that she wrote and illustrated.
She writes and illustrates books almost every day. She looks around everywhere for inspiration, ideas and ways to improve her drawing skills. She amazes me with how she ponders the world, and puts together the seemingly random pieces within it.
Riding in the car, we rarely listen to music---or rather, we rarely hear it. Patience tends to use that time to release the torrents of words and thoughts she's stored inside all day. She's one who tends to be quiet around others, but catches everything, and reports it back at home.
Yesterday, I sent my husband in my car because the rain had flooded many streets. My car is higher and all wheel drive.
"That was nice, Mommy," Patience said approvingly, "You shared."
Persistence patted my shoulder and reached around for a hug, "Don't worry, Mommy," she whispered into my neck, "Daddy is a safe driver and he's in your car."
They are little loves, those two, in different ways, in similar ways----it's all something uniquely special and precious. My girls. Six and three for now, a short time longer, but nearly seven and four. I can't wait.
P.S. I'll be away for a little while, but I'll see you when I get back. :)
Copyright 2008 Julie Pippert. Do not reprint or reproduce without permission.
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