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What A Toddler Taught Me About Perseverance
A lesson learned from a toddler

It was the scariest week of my life. Our newborn son was in the cardiac ward just two days after his birth. He wasn’t getting an acceptable level of oxygen and the doctors had no idea why. My wife and I were beside ourselves as the medical staff ran all sorts of tests on our 6 pound little boy, which even included a spinal tap. It was horrid. But, as I learned while staying at the Children’s Hospital that week, it could have been much worse…

During those sleepless days and nights filled with worry and anxiety and fear that my son had something seriously wrong with him, I met some amazing people, which included doctors and nurses. The one person who impressed me most during our stay, however, was a 3-year-old boy named Parker.

Parker was a little tank, with black hair and an almost permanent grin on his face. No exaggeration, almost every time I saw the little guy he had a smirk on his face as if he knew a secret of the world that no one else did. He was a magnetic kid and the joy in his face gave me pause. We were in the cardiac ward of the Children’s Hospital, after all. It was a pretty somber place. Many kids in this ward were in a very tough spot physically, and they faced unfavorable odds of living long and healthy lives – Parker included. Yet, despite all the nervousness and stress around him, Parker was having the time of his life roaming the halls and playing with hospital staff. He had the nurses eating out of the palm of his hand.

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Parker’s Perseverance

During the afternoons Parker would jump on his Lil Mater Riding Truck and cruise the hallways – a nurse was never trailing too far behind. In the evenings, according to the nurses, Parker would try to escape or hide in unsuspecting places. The nurses referred to him as the ‘escape artist’. It was all a game to Parker and life was about having fun. He was a legend in that ward. Everybody knew him.

One day I asked a nurse, one which frequently took care of Parker, what was wrong with him. I knew it was something serious because there were stickers and his name thoughtfully placed with big bubbly letters on the window to his room in the ward – which meant he had been there for a while. And, unlike virtually every other child there, I never saw anyone come to visit him. Most kids in the cardiac ward had parents staying with them on a nightly basis.

The nurse explained to me that Parker had a life-threatening heart problem (I can’t recall the term for his disease) and that his mother was MIA. She was a drug addict. His father was unknown – another deadbeat.

Parker had been in the ward since birth. He was three years old. The hospital staff had literally watched him grow from an infant to a toddler.

Regardless of his circumstances, Parker was the happiest person in that ward, by far. His joy was unwavering. Day in and day out that signature smirk rarely left his face. And yet, the little guy had no mother or father; and his clock was ticking the moment he was born. Heartbreaking stuff, but he remained unfazed.

During nap time I’d always hear Parker, who was just a couple doors down from our room, laughing and yelling as his nurse constantly shhh’d him to no avail. He was a ramblin’ man.


Keeping it Fun

On our third night at the hospital, I was restless. I just wanted to be at home with our son, but the doctors still weren’t sure what was wrong with him. My frustration level with the whole situation was kicking into high gear. So, at about 2 A.M. that night I decided to go for a walk around the halls.

I turned a hallway corner and out of nowhere little Parker stepped out. I looked down at him and sure enough, he had that same mischievous smile plastered on his face – ear to ear. I knew what was going on. Parker was in the middle of one of his nightly escapes that I had heard so much about. I chuckled, and didn’t say a word.

Just up ahead and around a corner I heard a nurse say Parker’s name in a loud whisper, hoping to find him without waking the other children. At that point Parker giggled and glanced up at me with a look that said, “you better keep your mouth shut”. He then scurried under a desk in the hallway.

I walked toward the nurse’s direction, who at this point looked worried and was in a jog trying to find Parker. Giving her a nod, with only my eyes I directed the nurse to Parker’s location under the desk, hoping he wouldn’t realize that I had just ratted him out. I walked a bit further, looked back, and the nurse exclaimed “there you are!” as she picked up Parker and tickled him to a point of uncontrollable toddler laughter.

Witnessing Parker’s ‘escape attempt’ made me relax for some reason. I began to feel rather optimistic about everything. As a result, I was finally able to go to bed for a couple hours of much needed rest.

The next afternoon I was walking the halls once again and passed Parker’s room. There were several nurses and two doctors inside, all hovered around him. They were giving him some sort of examination. It looked serious. For the first time since I’d met Parker, he wasn’t smiling. The little guy was crying, almost to the point where he was wailing. It was gut wrenching to see the ‘escape artist’ in a state of defeat. But, like a true champ, that low point was fleeting…


Keep on Rolling

The day finally came when my son was cleared to go home. He was going to be okay. It turned out that he just had a nasty case of infant reflux, which was impacting his oxygen levels. Very quickly, the doctor explained, he would grow out of it. We were blessed.

It was early afternoon and we were packing up our stuff in the suitcase to go home when I heard the sound of a Lil Mater Riding Truck’s wheels spinning on the hallway floor. It was Parker, no doubt. I stepped outside and yelled “Parker!” as he rolled by. He looked back with that same mischievous smile and continued rolling down the hallway as if he had somewhere to be and was running late. Sure enough, a flustered nurse was briskly walking about 20 metres behind trying to catch up to Parker, the relentless escape artist…


This little boy refused to succumb to negativity and you can learn a hell of a lot from his story. There will be many obstacles in the way of your dreams, and several moments where tasks seem overwhelming and you’ll even question why you’re taking such a risk. But, if you keep things playful, constantly making your journey fun and rewarding, you’ll persevere through anything. Parker showed me that you can persevere if you simply make things fun… apply that to your business today.

Find ways to make your business joyful and exciting, even when things get heavy and the odds seem stacked against you.

Stay hungry,

Aaron Hoddinott signature