Lately, I’ve been thinking about perseverance.  I love that vowel-packed word and all that it implies.

Perseverance has been on my mind for a few reasons.  About a week ago my 8-year-old-son announced that he had tired of Tae Kwon Do. “It’s too hard, Mom.  Wednesdays are the worst day of my life.  I want to quit.”

I’m no sadist, but Paul, the Tae Kwon Do teacher, has only recently begun to push Casey harder…and it’s good for him.  Because my son has both confidence and motor issues, the tendency is to be extra lenient and accommodating.  This serves a purpose, but so, too, does instilling the idea that hard work can yield great rewards.  By which I really mean: “work your combinations Casey and the triumph is all yours.”

My son loves heroes like Martin Luther King and Ghandi.  “What would have happened if they gave up their fight when under pressure?” we asked over dinner that night.  Think about how they persevered, we told him, when so many people were against them.  His big brown eyes widened.

And then we brought the conversation closer to home.  Paul has cerebral palsy. He’s had 13 surgeries, his body is contorted and he needs crutches to walk.  And yet each Wednesday he shows up at our house ready to share his passion and expertise.  He’s a double black belt in the martial arts: he earned his first black belt in Sun Doul Soul and the second in American Karate.  Paul may have a profound disability, but he’s an absolute lion in my book.

Up until now, Casey was more fixated on Paul’s bird tattoos than his inner strength.

“We know Paul is driving you harder,” my husband and I assured him.  “But can you imagine how difficult it must be for him just getting out of bed every day?  His muscles are stiff, he can’t run or jump the way you do, and he’ll never walk on his own. “

“Alright, I’ll do Tae Kwon Do,” Casey sheepishly decided.

And so he is.  My boy still kvetches (that’s Yiddish for whines) but one nod to Paul is all it takes to convey a little perspective.

Perseverance has also been on my mind because of Hanukkah.  Today is day six.  My children are now old enough to understand the significance of the holiday beyond the eight days of gift giving, which, much to their dismay we don’t adhere to religiously.  We do, however, light the candles and make it a point to talk about how the Jewish people of ancient times persevered amidst great hardship in order to reach freedom.

These are teachable moments, for my son, yes, but for all of us.

Think about it.  We persevere every day and in so many ways — exercising because it’s good for us even though we’re tired; raising confident, self-directed children; proving our mettle at work; waking up to write at 5am because that’s when the house is most peaceful.

Take stock of how you persevere in your life.  For all that you do and all that you desire, let it guide your path.

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