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On the Bright Side of Stubborn

One of my kids is especially full of tenacity, and it’s a strength of his. He is unyielding in his commitment to his own ideas, sticking with them to their completion. He’s not a quitter. It makes me proud. Except when it wears me out.

Because refusing to quit when you’re faced with multiplication tables? Go for it. Push through. Don’t stop.

But refusing to quit when you’re arguing with me? It’s okay, son. You can drop it. NOW.

Yes, I will confess some occasional exhaustion with my boy’s persistence. He can turn a discussion inside out and upside down, until I find myself (in my weaker moments) wondering what I just agreed to. In my stronger moments, I stand my ground, though it can feel a little like standing nose-to-nose with a bulldog. He sinks those metaphorical jaws of his into an idea, and woe be unto the person who tries to unclench them.

If you’re the parent of a headstrong child, you know precisely what I mean. It’s the please-oh- please-why-can’t-I-have-a-cell-phone-because-everyone-else-does-and-I-will-pay-for-it-with-my-own- money-and-I’ll-never-send-any-texts-and-wouldn’t-it-make-soccer-practice-easier-for-you-and- what-about-sleepovers?-Wouldn’t-you-feel-better-about-the-sleepovers?

Or, there’s the everyone-else-is-watching-Dark-Knight-so-why-can’t-I-and-I-promise-I’ll-close- my-eyes-in-the-bad-parts-and-maybe-I’ll-learn-something-because-you-know-Batman-is-actually- a-good-guy-and-remember-when-I-held-my-little-sister’s-hand-in-the-parking-lot?-I-think-that- proves-I’m-ready-for-more-responsibility.

And so it goes on. And on.

I choose to look on the bright side of this personality trait. Like I said, it can be a real strength. Stubbornness isn’t too far removed from diligence, and as long as he’s sinking his teeth into the right things, this trait will work in his favor (and ours). I have great confidence that his perseverance will show up in his career choice someday. We’ve always thought he has a bright future as a hostage negotiator. He’d have the bad guys streaming out of the building, hands in the air, willing to surrender to anything, if only please, please can we stop with all the talking?

I know there are probably some battles in front of us, as the teen years loom ever closer. He’s the strong-willed child of two strong-willed parents, parents who love him too much to give him his way every time. So we’ll stand our ground and do our best, smiling proudly as our boy’s persistence slays the most daunting spelling list of the year or newest, trickiest soccer play. When I see him standing up for an underdog, against mighty odds, my heart swells.

He’s going to be just fine.

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