The Persistent Child
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
THE Persistent Child's relatives dread his visits. Instead of planning to interest him their hope is that he will not take a violent fancy to anything, for they know that thing he will have, no matter how much they may object.
This is in a great degree his mother's fault, for his mother is an invalid and a pacifist. "Anything — anywhere, if only I need not be disturbed," is her plea.
Luckily for the Persistent Child the mother's invalidism requires seclusion, and he is transferred to an aunt. Now, this aunt is neither an invalid nor a pacifist. Besides, she is herself persistent, and knows full well its penalties and its rewards. She turns a deaf ear to both warnings and complaints of other relatives.
"The Persistent Child holds the key to success," she declares. "He only needs to be taught to discriminate in his persistence."
The aunt provides occupations and games that are not easy. "You will have to try again," she says, on the first failure, and rewards final success with enthusiasm. She keeps the Persistent Child busy persisting in something worthy to achieve. She realizes the value of this unusual possession, and if ever perseverance lags, she spurs it on.
However, providing right direction for persistence does not entirely prevent occasional lapses into that which is wrong. The Persistent Child persists in asking for a forbidden pleasure, which is as persistently refused. The reason for the refusal is given, but this makes no difference.
The wise aunt knows that any attempt to turn his attention will be futile, so she calmly says, "You cannot, and I have told you why. I shall not change my mind. Every time you ask me, I shall take away one of your after-dinner candies."
When these dinner candies are gone, the Persistent Child ceases teasing for this particular thing, but he wouldn't be the Persistent Child if he did not try his aunt again and again and yet again.
"I never keep late hours and I take very nourishing food," said the aunt to one who was congratulating her upon her success. "One needs poise and health and quiet nerves to regulate persistence without destroying it."