Life lessons from parenting a toddler usually involve a whirlwind of emotions. If you are a parent to a toddler, then you know that these littles ones can go from acting like monstrous petulant creatures in one minute to being charming and sweet angels in the next. Their meal pickiness can drive an balanced parent over their edge, yet their hugs can bring warmth to the coldest of hearts.
Here are some unsarcastic reasons on why my toddler continually inspires, and challenges me to reconnect with the simple things of life.
“We can learn from children. Of course they may quarrel, but generally speaking they do not harbor ill feelings as much or as long as adults do. Most adults have the advantage of education over children, but what is the use of an education if they show a big smile while hiding negative feelings deep inside? Children dont usually act in such a manner. If they feel angry with someone, they express it, and then it is finished. They can still play with that person the following day.”
– Dalai Lama XIV
Toddlers can be cunning.
The other day while at kindergarten, Fadhili, my toddler, scraped his knee, and by scraped I mean a barely visible scratch.
However, he had these (typical toddler) moments when he paused from his playing and remembered the scratch, and suddenly turned all dramatic; crying and limping. As dramatic as a hypochondriac mother-in-law in a Bollywood, Nigerian or Spanish telenovelas.
One would be forgiven if they thought that my toddler had stepped on an IED. Anyway, after a dramatic meltdown with him insisting that he couldn’t walk., and for the sake of my sanity, I acknowledged his “grave injuries”, plastered double bandages on the scratch and off he ran totally oblivious of his cunningness.
The bandage, and a long hug, seemed to have magically kissed the pain away. He received the attention and the affection that he wanted.
Toddlers are honest
When they are not being overly dramatic or throwing tantrums of epic proportions, toddlers can be such honest little beings. There is a thin line between being curt and honest among toddlers. A toddler will bluntly say out loud, in public, that you have farted, even when you try to act like it wasn’t you, or he isn’t your child. They will tell on you like no one else can.
A toddler admits to doing wrong, until they grow up and realize that we live in a world where raw honesty is punished more than it is rewarded. To encourage a culture of polite honesty, we are teaching our toddler that there are moments when somethings are best left unsaid, or said in a more polite manner, especially if they have the capacity to hurt or upset someone else.
Toddlers are forgiving
Their hearts have no capacity to carry grudges. Sometimes I am too hard on my toddler, like when he is acting defiant or wrestling his small brother too roughly. I will either give him a scolding or time out, much of which is met with a full blown meltdown of resistance.
Often times, I realize that he is just a baby, with the capacity to talk back at me, but not much knowledge of what is wrong or right. Yet in spite of my hardhandedness and the guilt that I feel afterwards, my toddler is quick to forgive and forget, usually accepting my apology with a kiss and a hug. Toddler are just good at letting go off (emotional) baggage.
Toddlers live in the moment
From the point on forgiveness, my toddler has taught me important lessons on how to live in the moment, without worrying so much about tomorrow or what is going to happen in the next hour. He teaches me that it is ok to stop worrying and just enjoy a game of building play-doh or Legos, and immerse myself fully into the moment, without worrying about the pending chores or life’s rat race. I find myself resisting his sweet voice as he urges me to sit down and join him in his play, then as he looks up to me, I notice that this moment won’t last forever. I don’t want my children to stop needing or wanting to do ‘stuff’ with me because I am always busy. This lessons has taught me to oblige, whenever I can, to my toddler’s need for spending quality with me.
Toddlers know how to have fun
Have you ever seen a toddler do something they love? They usually go all in, fully experiencing the moment, with all its glory. They beam with happiness, and usual do not want the moment to end. My toddler loves to play with the sand or water. If allowed, he could do this for hours on end.
A toddler can play with the most mundane objects but still have fun with them. Most adults see simple fun activities as a waste of time. The idea of fun as we grow up usually has price tag attached it, yet from the life of a toddler, fun should be free and unlimited.
Toddlers are imaginative
I love the wide eyed look on my toddler’s face when I read out a book to him, or when I narrate a story about giants. I can see him imagining all the creatures and characters in the story. It is the same when he makes up imaginative stories or songs. Toddlers muster excitement at just about anything. I envy this raw, childlike, imagination. It is so pure and fulfilling.
Toddlers laugh hard
There is nothing I love more than the sound of my toddler’s laughter. It is fun, pure, and straight from the belly. It is a laughter that comes from being truly happy. A toddler will laugh at the silliest of things. They will crack a bad joke and laugh at it. My toddler’s laughter is adorable and often invokes laughter from me too. Not a day goes by without a toddler finding a reason to laugh.
Toddlers love hard
My toddler like to give hugs when he sense that someone is hurting or upset. Even though he doesn’t understand much about life, he is quick to show sympathy to his dad or I when we are either upset or ill, or give hugs to his brother when he falls and cries. He makes apologies if he senses that is what will pacify a tense situation.
Fadhili teaches continues to me a lot about unconditional love. A virtue which so rare to find among adults who have become jaded by life, and adulthood.
In the Bible it says too that, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mathew 18:3). Heaven in this case does not have to mean a mythical place above the blue sky, but a life of mindfulness here on earth.
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