Meet the Butterfly: She’s eight. Like all children, she is uniquely gifted. She loves life, has a passion for animals and science (seriously), she rebels against anyone forcing her to do anything. She’s an auditory learner and uses discussion to understand things clearly. She is fiercely persistent.
Relentless. As a parent, this has been a problem for me, but I’m learning. I’m learning to embrace it, because I know it will serve her well in life. I’m learning to respect her opinions and trust that sometimes, she knows what she needs better than I do.
I call her the Butterfly because she flits and flutters through life, having a blast and making friends everywhere she goes. Having a party? She’ll be there to bring it to life. School didn’t bring that out in her. School also didn’t beat it out of her, as hard as they seemed to try.
I wrote the following about a year ago, after struggling through a typical school morning.
It’s Wednesday. Like any other day of the week, I have three daughters who are doing their best to stay home from school. For various reasons, they don’t want to go. There’s too much work, the bus ride is too long, it’s too cold outside; lately I’ve even heard the air hurts my eyes.
My first grader is the most extreme in her efforts. She has locked herself in the bathroom until the bus passes our house. Once, she faked throwing up, then pretended to have a terrible cough. The tummy aches were countless. Many, many times I’ve taken her out to the bus crying. She’s typically fine once the bus driver shuts the door and we all move on from the drama.
Yesterday she took a different approach. She told me that she really needed some mommy time. Aww. I thought. That may be the most creative effort yet. I refused to believe that she was manipulating me. I’m still convinced that there was a bit of truth to her statement. She misses me. I put her on the bus and sent her off anyway, feeling like an ice cold mama.
Today, she topped it. When it was time to get dressed, she became a ragdoll, claiming her legs stopped working. So I dressed her flimsy limbs, right down to her snow boots. She fell off the chair when I pulled her pants up and lay on the floor while I finished getting her coat on.
Now, she’s a small kid, even for seven, but I’m not feeling so great these days and it was more than a little difficult to carry her, limp and teary all the way to the bus stop. With her back pack over my shoulder I carried her, putting her down when I could hardly hold her up anymore with a warning, “the ground is cold and dirty.” She didn’t care. She continued being a ragdoll.
The bus pulled up and I lifted her as high as I could to place her on the stairs on the bus. She collapsed on the step. I informed the driver of the problem. She tried to stifle her laugh, saying, “I know, I have three.” I hauled her up another step, then to the landing next to the driver.
My darling didn’t get up. So I lifted her up another step. Without using words, the driver and I exchanged a look. She would close the doors, I would wait out of sight (still panting) and we assumed my darling daughter would get up and move to her seat.
The door shut. I watched the driver try to convince her to take her seat. I waited in the cold, feeling like quite the failure. Finally, the driver motioned to me to come back. My daughter was not moving, though she was able to tell me that her cough had gotten much worse. I put my aching arms out to her and she fell into them. I brought her back to the end of our driveway and gently set her down as the bus pulled away.
It was an outstanding, award worthy performance. She coughed for me then, repeating that she “thinks it would be best for her if she just stayed home and took it easy for the day.”
What’s a mom to do? I have to admit that she truly out did herself. I can respect that. Although I was frustrated, embarrassed by my inability to get my child to go to school and all around exhausted by just 9 a.m., I smiled a little to myself.
This kid’s got talent, I thought. Someday, her persistence is going to pay off. Just like today.
As a parent, I wonder what is more important. Being right? Winning? Or having a solid, connected, trusting relationship with my children?
I already know the answer. I’m happy to have her home now. And she’s happy to be free.
For the record, when I look back at that day, I don’t laugh. I feel a little heartbroken. I wish I had found this more peaceful way of life sooner. I see the changes here in our house. I see the change in my own perspective and understanding. I see the change in my little women.
They’re happy. They’re learning amazing things without being confined, restricted and silenced.
The Butterfly remains relentlessly persistent.
Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.