teaching tanisha tenacity

i’m certain that if you’re a breathing person over the age of seven, you have heard the phrase “terrible twos”. this statement, obviously refers to the year after the glorious first year of life, of one’s offspring. the first year, filled with well, firsts. first smile, first tooth, first full night’s sleep. first word, first step, first haircut. but ask any parent, and they will assuredly tell you that on the three hundred sixty sixth day of that child’s life, something switches. a button is pushed or a seal is broken. whatever the case may be, the child becomes an unceasing broken record repeating everything you have tried to instill.  mostly it’s “no”, “don’t”, “stop” and “mine”. all words that we as parents say to our darlings in hopes to correct an action that is most likely on its way to certifiable disaster. no matter the foresight and all-be-it good intention of the ‘rents, the kid knows only that he is being deterred from whatever they may be doing and THAT obviously is an error on our part. and so we are corrected.

the terrible twos segue into what i have always referred to as “the tumultuous threes”.  if two is the age of discovery, three has got to be the age of testing limitations.  all limitations.  their limitations, your limitations, the weight limits of small furniture.  the number of grapes they can shove into their cute little mouths.  or perhaps how far up their button nose they can shove an artificial pea-sized foam cranberry (that’s a real life example, and it was waaay up there).  every limit within their understanding can and will be tried, repeatedly.  three-year olds are exhausting.  they are talkative, energetic, clever little people.  they are often smarty panted little know-it-all versions of oneself.  my son is exactly that.  (you’re shocked, right?)  he thinks he can slide anything by me by saying “ooooh kay?” at the end.  and he doesn’t forget a thing!  his faultless memory is the inspiration for the following:

“if we all approached our life with the passion, tenacity and determination of a three-year old, some $h!t might get done. happy friday and cheers!”

reflect on the quotes you’ve heard over time about children.  while always entertaining and predominantly truthful, they usually refer to the sweetness and innocence encompassed in the impish smile of a child.  most intriguing to me is “out of the mouth’s of babes”.  children have no sensors.  no inner monologue.  they aren’t politically correct or censored.  they are pure souls.  unadulterated and “live on the line” at all times.

for christmas i bought my son a battery operated mechanical train set.  like the good american consumer i am, i woke up in the night and pulled the ump-teen molded plastic pieces from their box.  for 35 minutes i toiled to get all of the numerically ordered pieces in some other order.  an order unknown to me and not well explained in the instructions.  i had skipped christmas the two years prior (yes, i’m a scrooge, but it was mainly ’cause i didn’t have the budget).  but this year, i really wanted to give my son something to remember.  a running, functioning train set oughta do the trick!  christmas morning arrived and my little conductor was not at all interested in varying from his usual routine.  i almost had to bribe him to get him to come down the hallway and see his surprise.  he soon figured it out and his eyes and face lit up!  i done good.  SCORE!

now, with that said, what on earth would posses me to buy something that could and would easily fill the empty square inches of floor space that we share?  who knows.  but, we manage.  for the first few days following christmas, the train had to be taken apart, relocated and put back together in varying rooms of the house.  BAH!  curses!  lucky for us, our aunt and roommate, purchased a snazzy black-friday-flat-screen-tv (uh huh, that’s a brand — lookitup!) for our very large, hardly inhabited tv room.  i had train videos and was able to convince my little conductor to relocate the train, the track and its accompanying stuffs into this much larger area. again, SCORE! train relocated, no one walking over or tripping on it and everyone was happy.  was.

for whatever reason, one random morning my little conductor woke up demanding and insisting that the train and it’s 8,756 parts (i exaggerate, there might be 25) be relocated to the bedroom, once again.  we haggled like a chintzy customer and seasoned salesperson at the swap meet.  i explained repeatedly that we were getting dressed to leave for the day and IF in fact this mom-gineer should decide to relocate the train it would be LATER, after we’ve returned from work and childcare.  still an unsatisfactory answer for the conductor, but one he had to accept anyway.

the day proceeded.  upon returning home from work and childcare, and having breached the threshold of our home my son, without missing a beat says “mommy? thomas train in bedroom?”.  wtf?  serious?  how on earth did he remember that?  i know, i know.. he’s young, he doesn’t have a lot on his plate, he doesn’t have account names, numbers and passwords to store, but how how how did he remember it at that exact moment?  coincidentally, he does the same thing every morning.  no matter what it is that he went to bed with (a train, a car, or a book and tag jr) the night before, he’s going to wake up like frankenstein and look for that exact item.  amazing.  again i say; “if we all approached our life with the passion, tenacity and determination of a three-year old, some $h!t might get done.”

where does that tenacity go?  why does a child, who has nowhere to go, nowhere to be and nothing to do, wake up with the dawn and own the type of outlook and determination that we, as adults, struggle to find?  why can’t we wake up and instantly remember everything we need to accomplish for the day and actually attempt to check those items off our list?

it is these questions that lead me to believe (actually, just affirm) that children possess the purest soul.  within them is an undying need and desire to see, hear and absorb all they come in contact with.  they are hopeful, loving and unconditional.  they are resilient and persevering and they don’t have to put forth an ounce of effort into any one of those things. they are free from despair and disappointment.

i for one believe that as we get older, the wind gets released from our sails.  most of us come into the world with nothing more than an imaginary timer stating “ding! you’re done”.  suddenly (and sometimes, not so much) we are thrust into the world with nothing but our looks.  as infants we are dependent and defenseless.  while simultaneously caring for and loving us, providing for our every need, our families are also forced to show us that they cannot always be there for us.  that they cannot cater to our every whim.  as we mature into toddler-hood and preschool-ism we are guided towards the acceptable and responsible behaviors.  we are introduced to birthdays, parties and holidays.  our parents, our guardians, our loved ones tell us stories about teeth stealing fairies, egg laying rabbits and jolly gift giving fat men.  and we believe.  we haven’t any reason not to.  our minds and our hearts are open.  it is here, i believe, in the hearts and minds of children that hope and optimism procreate uncontrollably.  the constant dreaming and fantasizing breeds like rabbits in their souls and spills out everywhere they walk and talk.  they glow from the inside with determination!

aging is inevitable.  we all age, whether we want to or not.  whether we politely accept it for what it is or attempt to fool the hands of time.  some of us are lucky enough to “grow old gracefully”, while others appear to literally wither and dissipate.  everything around us affects this delicate process.  from our specific genetic combination to all things consumed or exposed to; from birth until the day we die.  no amount of pills, waters, creams, lotions, injections or carvings can keep you from it.

don’t get me wrong, it ain’t all bad.  we grow into our skins, our bodies, our souls.  we grow into our voice, our spirit and our love.  we learn and we teach.  with age comes maturity, wisdom and hopefully peace of mind and soul.  and with this same age comes “real life” and “reality”.  two phrases that could make grown folk cry!  wind is released from our sail when we discover that the tooth fairy is really gramma’s spare change, rabbits don’t lay eggs and that santa claus and toys ‘r us are somehow in kahoots.  with every reality, a dream is crushed.  it’s not as much fun to hunt colored eggs when you find out that your auntie em bought them, boiled them, colored them and hid them in the plants.

i discussed this topic with a few friends.  one such friend stated that he, in fact, did not agree with me “at all”.  he said he considered himself to be “a big kid”.  well, that’s all fine and dandy, but i can guarantee that what he is referring to is not at all what i am referring to.  children stand in the face of adversity without fear.  they challenge everything and accept nothing at face value. they do not take no for an answer.  their drive and determination is as necessary as breathing and just as automated.  they do not have to think about being tenacious.  they just are.  ever tried to swerve a child’s attention from one thing to another?  it’ll work with an infant and even some toddlers.  but once you hit preschool… it’s over.  they do what they want.  what fulfills them.  and they don’t forget!

when i grow up, i want to be a child.  i want to see the world through rose-tinted glasses.  i want to be tenacious and not have it exhaust me.  i want to have the memory and passion of a terribly-two-turned-tumultuous-three-year-old.  understand me.  i don’t want to be young-er, naive or child-ish.  i want to possess some of their qualities.  their most admirable qualities.  i want to have their unadulterated sense of self.  their overwhelming forgiveness.  their pure love.  tenacious tanisha?  i think i like it.

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