Over the past year and half, my husband and I have spent a disproportionate amount of time helping and guiding and instructing our son. We take it seriously that it is our job to explain the world to him, and we watch as life’s little mysteries unfold before his eyes. We can see the wheels turning as he discovers how to latch latches and turn knobs and stack blocks (and then knock them down and start all over again).
He is constantly testing limits (and sometimes our patience) to see if the results are the same every time he does an action. “If I push this button, will the light turn on again? And again? And again? Cool!” he seems to say.
And then there are the harder lessons he has to learn. “Don’t touch the wires. Don’t hit the TV. Don’t climb on the dog. Watch your fingers. Watch your fingers! Careful of your head.” (Then, “Let mommy kiss it.”) “Please come here and put your shoes on. Leave the stove alone. Don’t remove the baby proofing. Don’t touch the outlet. Hands out of the toilet!” It goes on and on, usually on repeat. Eventually he gets it, and then he moves on to the next object of his curiosity. It is incredible, really, to see him soak it all in, and to watch as he internalizes the lessons we teach him. And the vocabulary—and our gestures and facial expressions! Raising kids is nothing short of mind-blowing.
But recently, I’ve taken a step back and have tried to look at life through my toddler’s eyes. As adults, we are so set in our ways, and steadfast in how we operate in the world and with each other. We abide by rules simply because we were told once to do so. And society has even imposed guidelines on us to keep us from looking silly. But when you think about it, silliness is sometimes exactly what you need to get by.
See the next page for the lessons my son has taught me over the past 18 months that I will try to take to heart as much as possible:
- Take the time to consider all options, deliberately and one by one.
- Dance to the music you hear, or even to the beat in your head.
- Animals are perfectly acceptable conversation partners.
- Drink when you’re thirsty, eat when you’re hungry, do neither if you’re neither.
- Anything can be a hat – own your fashion decisions.
- Bath time should be enjoyed.
- Fruit can be dessert because it is delicious.
- Everything is better when dipped in hummus or applesauce.
- Run, don’t walk, to wherever you’re going.
- If you’re sick of holding something, put it down.
- Be cautious of the ocean – it is grand and beautiful and can be dangerous, too.
- Sometimes it is important to get a different perspective on the room (and life) – climb and sit atop furniture whenever possible.
- If someone takes something that is yours, take it back from them.
- Smile at babies.
- Squeal with excitement when your favorite person enters the room.
- Cry when you need to cry.
- Snuggle with your buddy.
- Give many hugs.
- Don’t hesitate to express your disapproval of a situation.
- Take books wherever you go and read them often.
- Clap your hands when you’re happy.
- Sing when you feel moved to do so.
- Smile at strangers.
- Wave at anyone you might know (and even someone you might not).
- When something isn’t going your way, do something about it.
- Sometimes it is important to walk in someone else’s shoes. Literally.
- Naps are wonderful additions to the day.
- Don’t leave home without a snack in your bag.