Life Lessons I've learnt from my toddler
Life lessons I’ve learnt from my toddler.
My daughter Claire is now 21 months old (as of Jan.2011), and busily exploring her newfound skills of running, climbing, and her latest favourite, expressing her opinion, most often with the word ‘No!’. It’s a challenging time, trying to figure out how to best understand her, and yet set some boundaries with some gentle discipline. I’m continuously learning from her, and she from me. It’s been fascinating just being a full-time stay-at-home mother. It gives me the time to see the world through Claire’s eyes and to appreciate life a little bit more with each passing day.
Toddlers are such fascinating people. Everything is so new to them!
And in the course of taking care of Claire, I’ve discovered a couple of things that have given me some insight into life.
Lesson #1 : No Mess, No Success!
Claire has recently been wanting to feed herself, hold her own spoon and fork. Despite how many times I’ve told her to turn the spoon around so that it’s not upside down when she puts it in her mouth, she still persists, and as a result, the food spills all over her mouth, on her chair and on the table. It’s crazy the number of disposable wipes we use when we eat out! I know sooner or later, she’ll learn how to do it properly and the mess is just a part of the whole process of learning. But it’s so hard to have to just let her make a mess instead of taking over the feeding for her and continuing to feed her. I know at some point in time, I’ll just have to live with the mess and know that it’s the only way that she can learn to feed herself.
Same thing goes with learning to drink from a cup. Just the other day, she reached for a cup of Milo on the table and it toppled and spilt all over her brand new t-shirt. It’s hard, but as parents, there’s no other way. We just have to let our toddlers make a mess of the situation to learn.
I guess that applies to us 'Big Childen' as well.
Now, I understand how difficult it must be for older parents to see their children make a mess of their marriages or finances. I guess sometimes after all the advice and guidance given, there is no other choice but to stand aside so that children can learn from the mess they’ve made. It’s how we all grow…through the struggle.
Lesson #2 : The steeper the climb, the bigger the challenge, the better!
I don’t know what it is about staircases that fascinates Claire so much. She’ll spot a staircase from a distance and make a beeline for it.
And she loves climbing UP the staircase, doesn't matter how many steps there are, or how steep the staircase
is, or whether there is a railing for her to hold on to...she just runs towards it with pure abandonment and dizzy joy. She loves the challenge of it, even if she needs mummy’s hand to help her along.
I guess I’ve learnt that it doesn’t matter how high the goal is, we can get there one step at a time! With a little help of course. And we need to reach out and up for that helping hand.
Lesson #3 : You are stronger than you think you are!
I’ve also wondered many times, if maybe toddlers have the same abilities as worker ants to carry many times their body weight.
It’s fascinating how Claire is able to haul things I would deem too heavy for her to carry. She manages to push around heavy boxes of toys or to drag my heavy computer bag around the hallway. The more difficult, the better!
Just this morning, she carried a big box filled with heavy jigsaw puzzle pieces and gave it to grandma. How a little person like her,
weighing just about 11 kg manages to carry such heavy things...amazes me.
It’s given me some inspiration, some food for thought, just to watch her dealing with all these challenges. I’m often afraid of tackling a challenge that seems too much to handle, but perhaps, as Claire has shown me, just stubborn persistance and enthusiasm will get you over any obstacle and carrying any burden in life.
Lesson #4 : Happiness is looking out for the beauty in life.
Claire amazes us sometimes with her ability to spot butterflies, the moon, flowers, balloons, doggies, and everything
else that she loves...sometimes in the most non-descript places and situations. Many times, she has surprised us by
pointing to the faint outline of the moon in the mid-day sky, and seeing the image of the butterfly in some intricate wallpaper,
or picking out the image of a balloon in a small stamp-sized photo in a magazine while standing 2 feet away from said magazine!
And while she toddles along the sidewalk, she’ll stop to smell a rose or to kiss a flower.
Her enthusiasm and passion for the little things in life is infectious!
Now, I like to point out things that she might like, a little ladybug on a leaf, a cat sleeping under the car, a rainbow in the sky, blue taxis on the road, the MRT.
She’s also learning about colours now, and often mixes up the names, calling a purple crayon blue, or the green grass blue, etc.
I love the way she is naturally looking beyond the lines, beyond categories, because she hasn’t learned to classify everything in neat little boxes just yet.
It’s helped me to think about how I see the world. And it’s been so fascinating to see it anew through Claire’s eyes. To forget, for a while, the troubles of the world, to focus instead on the things that most people forget about in the course of their busy lives, things like a bird singing on a faraway tree, or a beautiful flower growing by the sidewalk. I guess it’s true, that the eyes are the windows to your soul. Happiness is looking out for the beauty in life. I guess that’s the secret of a happy soul, and a happy toddler.