My son recently turned two and I realised in his short life so far he’s already taught me a tonne of stuff. Here are some of my favourite toddler lessons.
- To laugh at the trees. This was the first lesson he taught me. In those early days when I used to take him for walks in the park he would lie back in his buggy and look up at the trees. As the sun sparkled through the leaves, and the branches blew in the wind, he would laugh. He would laugh and smile at the beauty of it all. Sometimes when I’m feeling low I look up at the trees and remember the beauty he showed me in those early days.
- To forgive. Every morning without fail he wakes up happy. It doesn’t matter if in the depths of night, especially in those times when I struggled – recently separated and trying to balance single motherhood and returning to work – I left him to cry. I was at my wits end. I needed to rest. I needed to stop breastfeeding like he was a new born feeding on demand. I had no strength left in me and so, I would leave him. I’d fear that in the morning he would hate me. I was so naïve. All he knows is love and affection and that’s all he’s ever given me. In that moment as the sun was coming up, in that smile, I knew all was forgiven.
- To show our feelings. When he’s sad, he cries. When he’s happy, he giggles. He runs up to people he doesn’t even know and throws his arms around them. OK, so it means we need to work on the whole, respecting people’s boundaries, thing. But it’s so refreshing to be surrounded by someone who wears his heart on his sleeve. All day, every day.
- To move on from pain. He’s started to come to me for kisses when he bumps himself. Sometimes he’s crying, sometimes he’s not, but he comes bounding up to me and once I kiss him better, on he goes. There is no wallowing in the pain, there is no prolonged mourning. Once he knows he is loved, that is all he needs to move on, that’s all any of us needs.
- To keep trying. He is such a determined little boy. He tries things over and over until he can do it. He examines how things work and how they move. He’s shown me that we get there in the end. And if you can’t then there’s always number six.
- To ask for help. OK so this one is a bit of mutual teaching. He sometimes whimpers (or has a full on screaming fit!) when he can’t do something. It’s quite an annoying sound if I’m honest, so I’ve been teaching him to ask for ‘help please’. He’s got pretty good at it now. Better than I am. I rarely ask for help because people rarely offer – it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- To love with abandon. When I come home from work, he runs to me screaming ‘muuummmmmy’. He throws his arms around me and kisses me. He doesn’t worry if he was half way through a jigsaw or busy reading a book. He drops it all just to show me how much he cares. It’s the best feeling in the world. I hope I make him feel loved like that.
- To revel in the small things. We can’t walk more than a meter without him pointing out all the wonderful and not so wonderful things around us. The moon, the stars, the cars, the rubbish, the wheels, the babies. Everything and nothing. He notices it and you tells me so.
- That sleep is for wimps. This is a pretty universal lesson from our little ones and I can’t say it’s been easy. But more recently he’s started to learn that sleep aint quite so wimpish after all and I’m eternally grateful.
- Life is worth living, no matter what, even in the darkest moments.
Many of these lessons are the learning objectives of a mindfulness course which seem to be all the rage nowadays, but I got them all for free from my little boy. I can’t wait to see what he teaches me in 2016.