The One Hundred-and-Fourteenth Chart

January 17, 2014

By Ekta R. Garg

I’m always amazed by how much I can learn about my kids through their conversations and casual comments.

Yesterday Five got into the car and chattered a mile a minute.  This event doesn’t occur as frequently as you might think.  Most people would assume that five-year-olds generally have a lot to say, but my younger daughter stays true to her artist nature.  Some days she’ll talk a lot; some days she’ll talk for a little while and then watch the world go by (until her big sister gets in the car.)  Some days she’ll sit pretty quietly.

In the last several weeks Five has talked about wanting to run fast.  Not just fast, though, but faster than a particular boy in her class.  She has absolutely no enmity toward this boy.  Five is friendly with pretty much everyone in her class.  She just identified him as the fastest runner in the class and then decided she wanted to run faster than him.

The kindergarten class has P.E. every Thursday, and every Thursday Five would come home and talk about how fast her friend, J., ran and how she wished she could run faster than him.  This sentiment would stay with her through the weekend, and she would periodically mention it throughout the rest of the week.  Then Thursday would roll around again.

I heard Five go through a range of emotions and ideas about running faster than J.  Some days she would express frustration.  Why couldn’t she run as fast as him, she would ask.  It wasn’t fair that he could run so fast.  Why couldn’t she run that fast?

Other days she would talk about how she would keep working hard to run faster than J.  She knew she could do it, she said confidently.  She just had to keep practicing.  But it would definitely happen.

And then we came to yesterday.

Five sat in the car and began chattering nonstop.  She flitted from one topic to another about her day without stopping, and her lilting voice conveyed her incredibly bright mood.  But I didn’t know the motivation for the good mood until we were halfway to Seven’s school.

“I beat J.in running today,” she declared with utmost humility but barely contained excitement.

“Oh, wow, that’s exciting!” I said.

“It was only in laps,” she conceded, “but I ran faster than him.  I didn’t know I could do it, but I did.  I was running so fast that he was way behind me, and I beat him.”

“That’s great.”

“It was only in laps,” she repeated.

She continued to chatter about other matters, but when Seven got into the car she couldn’t help, greeting her sister with, “Hey, Di-Di, guess what?  I beat Jacob in running today.”

“Good job,” Seven said automatically.

“It was just in laps,” Five said for the third time since she’d announced her big news, “but when I turned around he looked so little!”

She giggled, and Seven began to share events of her day.  As I drove all of us home, I thought about Five’s dedication to her goal.  The irony of it all really struck home when we came inside the house and began talking about what the girls want to do when they finish dance lessons at the end of the school year.  Both girls have talked about quitting dance completely and trying something new, and one of the options (that has Five totally jazzed) is kung fu.

Seven isn’t so crazy about the idea, and as we talked about it Five turned to me and said, “She has to try to be persistent.  She hasn’t tried persistence yet.”

Maybe she’s partially right, although as I shared in last week’s special Christmas vacation Spurts Seven can be persistent when she wants.  But it just made me realize that while Seven might still struggle with persistence once in a while, Five has started to exercise it in a concrete way.  It’s going to be interesting and fun and exciting—and slightly anxiety-inducing at some point, I’m sure—to see where this quality takes her in life.

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