Over the last few days I’ve been reminded of two valuable lessons—persistence and tolerance or ‘keeping your cool’. The lesson of persistence came from seventeen month-old Essie. The lesson of composure came from my ten year old mini doxie, Snickers—which equals seventy in dog years.
Essie , who heard “Esther Kathleen, leave that poor dog alone” more times than even I can count over the last few days, was fascinated with Snickers’ nose and whiskers. She’d rub them every chance she got. That, and kiss her over and over and over again. Esther’s persistence in her pursuit of making Snickers her friend was unwavering…and successful.
Snickers, whose fondness for children used to be described as ‘tolerant at best’ usually put herself out of reach of little hands, buried her face in a pillow, and adopted the attitude of if-I-ignore-them-they’ll-go-away. Not this time. Essie would pet Snickers’ nose and whiskers, Snickers would turn the opposite direction—putting her face out of reach. No problem for Essie—she’d just move to the other side.
I know some of you are thinking so what? My dog does that, too. But here’s the thing—there was a day not so long ago when Essie’s actions would have resulted in bared teeth, growling, and yes, even snapping at her. But thanks to Essie’s perseverance, as well as that of Mackenzie, Macy, Reuben, and Laney, Snickers has learned to be more tolerant and receptive of little hands and clumsy kisses on the top of her head. She even greets them with a wagging tail and a kiss of her own now days….well, most of the time.
As parents we can learn a lot from both the toddler and the dog.
Persistence: Don’t give in to your children’s whining, fits, and tantrums. Your persistent insistence (say that three times really fast) on good behavior will pay off. Giving in (even once in a while) leaves you with a whiny, spoiled, and disrespectful child and teenager with an over-inflated sense of entitlement. Be persistent in letting your child know they have your unconditional love. Be persistent in helping your child become the best possible ‘them’. Be their advocate, but not their rescuer. In other words, stand up for them when you should, but don’t shield them from the consequences of their actions.
Tolerance: Little hands, little minds, and little hearts are overflowing with the need and desire to help and learn by working side by side with you. So…slow down, don’t insist on perfection, and take every advantage of these moments while you have the chance to enjoy them. Don’t lose your cool when your kids ‘wash’ the car or ‘clean up’ the kitchen. Their eyes don’t see what you see and their hearts truly are in the right place. Be tolerant of less-than-perfect grade cards and spelling tests. No one is perfect. Not even you or your child. Besides, their best (not the best) is all you have the right to expect. Don’t lose your cool when your teenager acts out and talks back. Instead, be cool, calm, collected, and firm when letting them know this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.
So there you have it—two valuable lessons from two pint-sized teachers.
Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission of the author.