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Portraits of Patience and Persistence as Young Girls

Recent work from my little artiste, Patience.

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.
Also blogging at: Julie Pippert REVIEWS: Get a real opinion about BOOKS, MUSIC and MORE Julie Pippert RECOMMENDS: A real opinion about HELPFUL and TIME-SAVING products Moms Speak Up: Talking about the environment, dangerous imports, health care, food safety, media and marketing, education, politics and many other hot topics of concern.


flutter said…
those girls of yours....
thailandchani said…
She writes and illustrates books every day? Wow! That is amazing!
SciFi Dad said…
Those pictures are impressive, but not as much as the stories you shared about Patience. She really is a remarkable child.

And Persistence will figure things out. Whether she does it before you lose your mind, however, is a different matter entirely.
Mayberry said…
That artwork is truly incredible! I loved your point about the "inner well of tolerance." My older child has it too and it's beautiful to behold.
kirida said…
I love the artwork. I wish I had her skills.
S said…
patience's artwork is phenomenal.

and persistence sounds like she's maturing.

small steps, but steps.
Kyla said…
Dude. P1 has some skills with the art! Niiiice.

They're growing every day, aren't they? You've got good girls, even when they make you a little crazy.
Anonymous said…
Oh, Julie. I know. They can be so sweet. And they can be so exhausting.
Yolanda said…
I love the portrait of your girls that has emerged for me as I've read along this year. When I read about Patience, I recognize myself as a young girl. When I read about Persistence, I see a future glimpse of my daughter whose curiosity and determination pull energy from me every day.

Have a good time away. I hope it gives you some renewal following a summer of such drain.
crazymumma said…
You know, you renmind me with your telling, of my girls 4 years apart and so very very different, and the impatience the elder has for the younger yet the love oh thlove.

What is that nursery rhyme?
'when she was good she was very very good and when she was bad she was horrid...'

have a good time away.
jeanie said…
Darn - I realise that I was a Persistence, and from a Persistence perspective, both girls want your attention, its just that Patience begs it with her wonderful behaviour and genius at storytelling, Persistence has a hard task to top that unless she finds her own path!

For Crazymumma -
"There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good, she was very, very good
But when she was bad, she was horrid."

I heard it recited to me all the time...
painted maypole said…
great portraits!

enjoy your time away! :)
Emily said…
I've been thinking about you as I watch all the coverage of the DNC. They have transformed Denver. I'm so excited for you to be there, (assuming you are still headed there.)

Can't wait to hear your stories.
we_be_toys said…
Nice portraits - Patience is really quite talented!
You know, as much as it drives me crazy; the getting into my stuff, the messes that go hand in hand with their creativity, I know I would worry a lot more if they didn't show that spark (okay, so sometimes it's a bonfire) of mischief also known as pushing their limits. I know one day I'm going to miss those messy little kids, and hopefully, I'll get to snicker at my grandchildren when they exact my revenge!
Unknown said…
Such Talent! You must frame those. Or make cards out of them and sell them to US!
Anonymous said…
Were those the pictures she made on your important paper? If so, did you remember to say, "I really wish you hadn't used my important paper but I do love your drawing. It's very, very good." She probably made it thinking you'd be so proud (don't they continue to think that about every single drawing?) and then she got scolded. I have moments like this and I try to remember afterward to compliment them on their child-ness.
Sukhaloka said…
Award for you at my space!
Anonymous said…
7 and 4. Then...13 and 10. I'm telling ya. It goes by quickly.
Anonymous said…
Persistence and Patience. Perfect.

Apathy Lounge is right--it's just around the corner. Bam!
MommyTime said…
The stories you tell are so wonderful. Your kids seem fantastic. I'm sure you've been missing them, away these days, and I know you must be delighted to have come home to them too. I can't wait to hear your take on all the action in whatever you post next. Best wishes (and hoping you don't live near the coast...)
HOw lovely....those two! :)
Mad said…
What a lovely glimpse, Julie. And ya, Patience is extremely talented.
I wanted to invite you and your audience to participate in positive media for girls.

I'm redesigning my Empowering Girls website and am looking for empowering photos of girls to include in the header and as cover art.

For more details:

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