The week's gymnastics lesson over, her children climbed into the gray van and fastened their seat belts. While buckling her 3 year old into his car seat, she glanced toward the backseat and noticed the expression on his face.
The eldest child, an eight year old boy who embodied all the stereotypes of a firstborn, sat with his back ramrod straight, his jaw clenched, and eyes filled with tears. "Uh-oh," she thought.
Looking into his face, she gently asked, "What's the matter, Sweetheart?"
The tears spilled down his cheeks. "I don't want to do gymnastics any more."
"Really?," she asked, silently praying for wise words to help her hurting firstborn. "Why not?"
"I'm not good at it. The coach said Brother's good at gymnastics. It's not fair," his words tumbled out in a mixture of disappointment and jealousy.
"Well," she responded, "Everyone has something their good at doing. Gymnastics is one of those things for Brother. That doesn't mean you can't be good at gymnastics, too. It just means you have to work harder at it than he does. When the exercises are hard and you want to quit, you have to push through it and keep going. O.K.?"
He nodded and wiped the tears from his eyes. With that her teachable moment ended and she climbed into the driver's seat.
As she drove towards home, she replayed the previous scene in her mind. Her heart ached for her perfectionist firstborn. She understood his desire to do everything well, along with his desire to quit when things got hard. It didn't help matters that Brother, younger by only 20 months, was a natural athlete. She marveled that two brothers could be so different.
Then she wondered, yet again, how would she ever teach her oldest perseverance?
How do you teach your children perseverance?
This post was inspired by Day 5:: First and Third.