Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Tenacious Toddler

This little guy is Amazing!  His birthday was Monday and he turned three.

I know that may seem like a biased statement and I would have to agree with you.  But if you knew Grayson Oliver Smith, like I know Grayson you would say it's true.

Typically, if you read about a "tenacious toddler" it would bring to mind images of temper tantrums and unruly children running around stores being chased by frazzled mothers yelling unrealistic threats.  

In my desire to be transparent, I have to say I have witnessed a couple of less than stellar moments with young Mr. Smith's temper and his mother has indeed been frazzled from time to time.  (Although I can assure you that she has never uttered a threat she wasn't willing to follow through on.  His mama is one tough cookie.)

But this post describes a different kind of tenacity.  

As part of all the July birthday and anniversary celebrating, Frank and I got to go to Bok Tower Gardens yesterday.  We were part of an adventure involving all NINE grandchildren and the most capable child directors available - Joy and Kristin.  

Side Note: Meagan and Nathan had saved/planned over a year to go away for their 10th wedding anniversary.  However, those celebrations are best shared with only the bride and groom.  What to do with four rambunctious offspring?  Call your sister, of course.  Joy managed her own version of boot camp so the Smiths could go away.  Wrangling her four plus the Smiths' four plus Parker meant she had NINE children most of Monday through Saturday!  If you'd like to applaud for her,  feel free to leave a comment in the box below.)

It wasn't my brightest idea that we take them all to Bok Tower.  The temperature topped out around 95 degrees and the famous Florida humidity felt like we were breathing through plastic wrap.  The park was offering one of two FREE days to the public, so it was jam packed.  

But we were on an adventure!  So off we went with two kiddie wagons, a picnic lunch for 13 and a cooler filled to the brim with juices and water. 

There were too many hilarious moments to record here.  You'll have to ask Joy about her telling me to lower my voice when I started yelling because I thought one of the children was missing.  Turns out, he was simply standing behind Papa and I couldn't see him.  Oh well.

Bok Tower Gardens also has a lovely spot designed specifically for youngsters.  Places to climb, make music,  sing on a stage, draw and even play in water.  The best part of the children's park is that everything is covered by lovely old oak trees offering at least a five degree drop in the temperature.  You know where we parked the wagons, right under those trees.

One of the many playstations is a large balance beam that twists and turns four times while also offering the challenge of a steady incline.  While all the children took a stab at completing the course, it was Grayson who saw the challenge as a personal issue.

If you zoom in on this picture, you can almost feel the determination in that little three year old body.  I stayed with him long after the other children zipped through or tired of the challenge.  They went on to other stations but not Grayson.  He continued to carefully ease his way along the beam, concentrating like Nick Wallenda only to fall off again after several steps.  I offered my hand for support but he declined.  This had to be done on his own.

It took me a while to realize what was happening but Grayson had made up his mind . . . he was going to keep at it until he conquered the challenge.  Again and again he walked that first beam.  Each time his tiny foot slipped off, it meant he had to go back to the start.  He usually had to wait then for other children who were then in line ahead of him.  But he waited.

Try again.  Get a bit farther.  Fall off.  Run back to the start.  Wait in line.  Begin again.

At one point, when I could see his frustration mounting, I tried to encourage him to just start again where he fell off.  Nope!  He was having none of it.  This had to be conquered.  And the only way for him to conquer was to walk successfully every step from the very beginning to the end.

I found myself amazed that this three year old was pushing himself so hard to accomplish this feat in such a systematic way but that's our Grayson.

Over half way.  Fall off.  Run back to the start.  Wait in a longer line.  Begin again.

I'm not sure if the Lord finally sent an angel to balance him but at long last, after dozens of failed attempts, Grayson Oliver Smith made it to the end.


The look on his tired, sweaty little face was priceless!  He was so very pleased with himself and rightly so.  His effort had finally paid off. That much effort deserved one more close up, don't you think?

Is there really an Olympian from any country as proud as that kid is right there?  I think not.  (No, I'm not crying . . . you're crying.)

For our trip home, the three little boys were buckled in to the van Papa was driving.  The tired, stinky toddlers fell asleep almost immediately.  Joy had loaded her four in their van and left just before us.  Madi and Noah were with Kristin and me in my car. Their magpie chattering eventually tapered off and in the quiet, I pondered Grayson's determination.  

I thanked the Lord for helping him stick with it until he finished.  I was grateful I had been watching and didn't miss that amazing little smile of victory.  Mostly, I prayed that Grayson's tenacity would serve him well for his future.

How about you, Dear Reader?  Is there something you need to keep pushing yourself to accomplish?  Is there a goal you set for yourself but you keep falling off the beam, so to speak?  

Take a lesson from our Tenacious Toddler. Don't give up!  Keep pressing for the prize.  It may be taking more effort than you first imagined but if it's a worthwhile goal, keep going. The joy you'll feel when it's finally accomplished will certainly outweigh the frustrations you've felt while trying and failing and trying again.

I hope someday, when he's all grown up, Grayson will read this post and maybe even remember how excited he was in that moment.  It would be wonderful if I could once again say, "Keep giving it all you've got, Grayson.  Noni is proud of you!"


  1. Nine children and 95 degree heat? My hat is off to ALL of you, but especially to sweet Grayson who showed all of us what true perseverance looks like.

    Thanks for making my morning with that story.

  2. This post brought both laughter and tears!

    Hooray for sweet, tenacious Grayson--wow, what an incredible display of determination!

    And a thunderous round of applause for Joy--my hat is off to her!

    This word of encouragement was just what I needed today. Thank you!

    Love, Deb Mantik

    1. Grayson preached his first message to all of us just after this third birthday! Thanks, Deb!

  3. Sheri,

    May he never lose that wonderful tenacity. Thanks for sharing an inspiring story about our inspiring grandson.