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Something's Italian in the State of Texas

Today...I'll tell you about my younger child.

Persistence---who incredibly never gets as much ink as her elder sister but whose behavior, antics and personality often, amazingly enough, put her older sister into the shade---is having a little trouble with her English. Her Italian accent is a little thick despite (a) never having lived in Italy much less visited there and (b) having never spoken or learned Italian (Spanish and French, although related, are not the same).

After a day before of stuffing the toilet with an entire roll of toilet paper and then flushing, creating massive overflow and mess, TWICE; pulverizing her breakfast and then dumping the crumbs all over the floor, pulling out all the toys and throwing them everywhere the floor while I tried to handle problems one and two and...more that I won't trouble you with, she stayed up until 10:30 p.m.

I had been solo parenting for quite a while, broken up only by a short visit from my mother, probably the only thing that saved my sanity.

So you can imagine how happy I was to see Persistence the next day at 5:30 a.m.

Let's start the story there and I'll tell you a little about Miss Persistence, and how there's something Italian in the state of Texas, with a heart and personality big enough for a state that loves big.

Note: Persistence's love of books is a salve to my mommy heart, which is so wounded from Patience's ongoing rejection of anything book or reading related, unless, of course, it is science or science fiction, and even then, only rarely. She's a doer, not a reader. But Persistence. Ah child of my heart. Loves her books. Wants to read frequently. Sleeps with books as if they are loveys.

Scene: Room dark with incessant cloud cover, pitter patter of incessant rainfall. Sleeping mom in bed. Enter small girl child in hot pink Dora pajamas, clutching a doll as big as she is, two books, and a blanket.

After tossing all of her Eee-Eye-Ohs (E.I.O.s aka Essential and Important Objects) Persistence leaps on to my body on the bed and jumps up and down on me.

"Mama, Mama, You awake-a?"


"Mama, Mama, doggie awake-a me up-a."

"bladgrr gum gigi dog next door..."

"Mama, Mama, Im-a hungee."

"Food eat yeah watch TV..." click on TV, roll over, pull blanket over face

"No, no Noggin, Mama, I wanna watch-a Born Babies show."

"Thass downstairs."



"Mama, Mama, get-a up-a. Tome on, tome on Mama, tome on downstawahs."

No reply.

"Mama, Mama, Im-a hungee, hungee Mama, wanna watch-a Born Babies show."

Repeat. Add increasing persistence, volume and intensity. Keep up until Mama drags sad tired carcass downstairs to fix food and turn on the show.


After a tremendously huge argument with Patience over play-dough, do abrupt about-face and ten seconds later say with enormous emotion, as if reuniting after years of separation, "Tissy! My tissy!" and hold out arms in mute appeal for hug, which Patience provides.



I race into the playroom. Who is hurt, what happened?

"Mama, Lila is cwying, she's-a sad, we make-a her a bottle." Lila is her favorite baby doll. Lila is the size of a small nine month old baby or a large eight month old baby. She's very realistic. She gets us into lots of trouble.

Like the time the lady at the restaurant nearly had a heart attack because she thought I was carrying a real baby like a football, face down, and tossed her carelessly onto the booths bench.

Like the time the older woman called the police about the "baby" trapped in the car.

Like the time the other mother at school thought I dropped the "baby" on the sidewalk.

Persistence is a little mother, to all babies real and plastic alike. I offered to a lady in a restaurant once to babysit anytime she needed because her 8 week old entertained Persistence into behaving so well in public we got to finish our meal rather than beating our usual boxed-up meal hasty retreat with 22% tip.

We make-a a bottle for Lila, which Persistence feeds to her. It's a magic bottle: you tip it, and the milk vanishes as if the baby is really drinking.

"There! All done!" Persistence announces. "Now we read-a her dis book and she go nighty-night."

We read Lila doll Curious George Goes to the Dog Show and get her settled into the baby bed in the playroom. The playroom is set up like a little house, with a bedroom including a small bed and a couple of doll beds, a living room with a small love seat and TV, a kitchen with cabinet, stove and table, and the play area with shelves of toys and books.

The room is dominated by cute stuffed animals for the most part, but other than that it looks like a messy girl's dorm room---if the girl was about twelve inches tall---with loads of small outfits, shoes, and accessories flung crazily about. In a few corners are small terrariums with things like june bugs, earth worms and roly polies hiding in dirt. Other corners hold build-a-bug games and jelly insects. Legos are trip hazards in the center of the floor, but Patience will "lose her marbles" if you deconstruct her construction.

This one is an agility course for her new beanie cow.

Persistence, in trying to step carefully around the course, accidentally falls onto it.

"Oh no oh no oh no!" she cries.

"It's okay, I'll fix it," I tell her, partner in crime, conspiring to hide the deed. I attempt to put the complicated design back together. I fail. I decide honesty is the best policy.

"We'll tell her together," I say, and we wait with trepidation. I plug my ears in anticipation of the shriek.

Sure enough, Patience returns from her room a minute later, "AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH my cow course! My cow course! PERSISTENCE!!!!!!"

"Hang on there," I say, trying to make That Noise Stop, "She was trying to get around it and it was an accident. We'll fix it and maybe we should move it someplace other than the walkway here."

"I don't want to!" Patience says, bursting into tears.

Persistence walks to her, "Ssshhhh, sssshhhh Tissy, it's-a otay, I sowwy," and pats her back. She walks to the crib, gets Lila, and hands her to Patience in silent sympathy and compensation.

"I don't want your stupid doll!" the angry Patience cries.

"Hey now, wait a minute, she's saying sorry, trying to help, make it better the only way she knows how...I know it's sad your course got broken but we can fix it, yeah? And she's sorry. All of this matters. Okay? Let's listen and think for a minute."

Patience carries on. I see Persistence's bottom lip quivering, and her chin wrinkling. I know what's coming. She's clutching the insulted Lila closely, patting her back, wanting to give and receive comfort somehow.

"Okay count of three Patience you're going to take a deep breath and calm down..." I say.

Like an omega dog, Persistence is careful to not overstep younger sibling boundaries for a while...careful to defer just enough, careful to play up the little tiny bit of baby sister that lingers. Patience responds just as Persistence would hope. She is careful and patient with her, pays more attention to her, helps her, guides her in playing.

The situation is diffused. They play together nicely for ten more minutes before the next eruption.

But later, as they leave on an outing with their father, I notice Patience take Persistence's hand, and little Persistence smiles a small smile of joy and triumph. A minute later, Patience races back in, "I just remembered we left on the TV! I have to pause Persistence's show or she'll miss the Born Babies!"

The TV we turned on, and they promptly left the room. The show we started, just before they started playing something else elsewhere.

It was a big act for a small thing.

I pictured Persistence sitting cozy and comforted, secure in her car seat, smiling, thinking, "My sister, she-a love-a me."

copyright 2007 Julie Pippert


kaliroz said…
Oh, god, Julie. This had me snorting like a madwoman and then bawling like a big baby by the end.

I need to meet your girls. My daughter needs to meet your girls.

The Italian accent. I thought I was going to pass out from not being able to breathe. I read a section outloud and couldn't stop laughing.

You are bloody brilliant, woman!
Anonymous said…
I can hear it. I can see it.

I wan-na play date.

Fiona did a mean Katharine Hepburn imitation at that age. I was sorry when it ended.
S said…
Julie. Julie! JULIE! This is fantastic. I feel like I know your girls so well just from reading this post.

Did I ever love this. And you've nailed the sibling rivalries and complexities. Just nailed them.

thailandchani said…
Wow.. I don't even have kids.. but I loved this story! :)


Lawyer Mama said…
How precious! And Italian! Why did I not see it before? Hollis speaks Italian too!

Ah, your girls are just adorable. Thanks for letting us see a bit more of Persistence.
Unknown said…
So perfect, so Italian. For a short time LP spoke with a French accent, we don't know why. He had to have a "pacee" (insert accent acute) to sleep at night. Miss that.
What a sweet and funny post!

This is EXACTLY why I nominated you for a silly award at my site! Check it out!
Christine said…
I was totally cracking up here! Your kids are awesome, Julie.

Italian. Priceless! i love-a that girl!
Ally said…
Oh, I will savor the sweetness of this ending for days to come. Well done!
Unknown said…
That's so funny about her Italian accent. I think Tabba over at Mrs. Incredible as a daughter so inclined also.

When you wrote about Patience's disinterest in books and that she is a doer and not a reader, I had to laugh. Those are pretty much my exact words about my Wild Thing. In fact, I decide a couple of days ago that I should secretly videotape her reading to me. It would definitely be a sight to see:

1. She whispers when she reads like the "low talker" from Seinfeld.

2. Her body never stops moving. She rotates in a circle, flailing arms and legs.

3. Punctuating this are her occasional outburts, "I can't do this! There are too many words!"

Mind you, she really only needs help with a few words.


I hope that Patience and Persistence maintain there love-a!
Girlplustwo said…
mama mia. fuhgeddaboudit.
Snoskred said…
The mention of cows got me.. I love cows! My nephews love cows!

They think I am the crazy Auntie because I always suggest we steal one and put them in the boot of the car. Well, that's not the only reason. I am pretty crazy.. ;)

I just bought them cards today with cows on. ;)


You have to check out Invader Zim.. it has the cutest little robot named Gir, who likes to say "Hi Cows!"

Kyla said…
Ohhh, that's so sweet.

Lila had me cracking up. I had a doll that was similar. Once at the grocery store my mom was approached by a policeman because we had left the baby in the car. Good times.

Get lots of video of that accent. Soon she'll grow out of it. BubTar used to sound Spanish. He rolled his R's and several other letters. I have NO videos of it, because we didn't get the digital with video until after KayTar was born. I remember it, but I so wish I had it on video to watch whenever I like.
Anonymous said…
EIOs -- I love it! We call it luggage, but EIO is so much better.

Hey -- do we have a topic for next week?
joyce said…
Damn. We just have to find a way to get our kids together. Patience and K, Persistence and R - the world would implode, but it would be fun to watch!
Hilarious, especially the accent!

Oh, and that 5:30 a.m. awakening and all that follows? I so feel your pain. My son's up at 6:30 every morning, lively and ready to go. And I am NOT a functioning person at the hour.
Her Bad Mother said…
"Lila is the size of a small nine month old baby or a large eight month old baby. She's very realistic."

This made me laugh out loud. That, and the thought that if WonderBaby ever met Persistence, hellfire and destruction would rain down upon us.
Julie Pippert said…
Ahh Roz, thanks lady. I and Joyce and I need a get-together. Our girls would rule the world. Velvet fists, you think? LOL


SB, now Katharine Hepburn, that would have been something! LOL


SM, thank you!! Those sibling rivalries are an intricate web. Glad I somehow got it across.


Chani, thanks, that is a high compliment. :)


LM, a-ha! A sign of his brilliance! I need to give Persistence a little more air time. She's fun. Mindblowingly aggravating and fun and adorable. LOL


Karen, French! With an accent. Too cute. It is something else, make you think of language development in new ways.


Queen, you DID? Wowsa. I will be right over. All this mom and job stuff is interfering with my blog reading!


Christine, LOL, you picked up the accent! Thanks you!


Ally, thanks! :)


M-L, I have said time and again you get my daughter through similarities with your own, and thank goodness for that. I love that story. I can totally see it. I hope they stay close too.


Jen, LOL.


Snoskred, it's cows this week, could be pigs or birds or lizards next. I like the cows, though. The cow course was pretty cool. Crazy Aunties are good stuff. :)


Kyla, I know, we need to video more. It's so hard in the moment. I'm dreadful. LOL you had a baby in the car mistake too LOL.


Emily, I am behind on stuff but Snoskred sent a suggestion so I am replying to that and will get it up today. Sorry for delays. Yeah steal the EIOs. Very efficient. And of course everyone is all about the acronyms around here LOL.


Joyce, I know. I swear I am making Roz drive by me and pick me up and bring me to you. :)

It would be something else to watch those four together. Rule the world! Then it implodes. What's the quote, something about a glorious chaos or something LOL.


Cathy oh AMEN about up before roosters. I swear, I KNOW it's coming but I value my night time, my time. So I invariably stay up too late. Sigh. Thanks!


Do you know, HBM, I've read your WonderBaby stories and thought the same thing LOL. I love your WonderBaby stories. It's all funny when it's someone else's kid LOL!

Hey I still want that t-shirt with the quote from your husband. :)
Anonymous said…
You are such a great mom.

I hope my boy's extreme sibling rivalry phase ends soon. It makes me nuts.
MARY G said…
I love this. Really well written and so funny. I had a pair of girls like that who had to share a bedroom. Someday I am going to write about that and I hope I do it half as well.

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