I feel like I am constantly trying to teach my kids something. Eating solids, toilet training, starting school, learning to share…sometimes I get sick of the sound of my own voice, particularly when it comes to teaching them time management skills, (read: reminding them to put socks, shoes, hats underwear on thirteen times each morning). Today I was searching for something on my Facebook timeline and I had a moment to browse through some recent posts detailing the lighter side of parenting, and in particular the off the wall things my kids say. So today, I’m learning from them.
Reading through the posts it occurred to me that something happens as we grow into adults. We seem to lose particular instincts that kids still have and while in many situations it allows us to make adult decisions it can also hold us back and make life a little more dull.
So from the best kid Facebook posts on my timeline so far this year, here are the words of wisdom and life lessons I can take from my own children.
What I can learn from Lachlan, 5 – Don’t let risk keep you from doing something worthwhile, and always dream big.
Me: “What did you learn at school today?
Lachie: “When you climb trees, sometimes you fall and hit your bum on a rock.”
Truth. My son will climb anything, leap before he looks and jump from great heights. Last weekend when we were riding bikes at the park he disappeared for almost an hour. When we finally found him he was riding on the BMX track with a group of teenagers. He has an activity level that few could match. But no matter how confident he is, sometimes he falls and sometimes it hurts. While I stand fretting on the sidelines resisting my every temptation to helicopter like a MASH pilot, he accepts that risk is part of doing really fun stuff. That sometimes the result will be painful, but that in the end you will miss out if you’re afraid of falling. I think I can learn quite a bit from this inherent instinct to try.
Lachie: “How old was Will Skelton when he got to play for the Wallabies?”
Me: “I’m not sure, maybe 21?”
Lachie: “Right. I have 15 years to go.”
It’s funny how the littlest people have the biggest dreams. Lachlan has always been all in with whatever he does; commitment has never been a problem. In addition to being driven, he allows himself to dream big. Where I protect myself from failure and restrict how high I am willing to aim, he has no such boundaries. In his eyes becoming a Wallaby is not just a dream, its a probable reality if he works hard enough. He may never get there, (let’s be honest, the odds are against him), but he’ll never be left wondering. I temper my visions of grandeur into something more achievable, and as a result I most likely miss out on a whole heap of interesting challenges along the way. So many times I have watched him start an activity he is not at that moment capable of finishing. Yet somehow, he still finishes and gets plenty out of the experience.
What I can learn from Lucy, 4 – Believe in the impossible and see the beauty in everything.
Lucy: “Fairies are real mum. Peter Pan believed and Tinkerbell got better.”
It’s so easy to become cynical as we get older, particularly if we have children that make us feel vulnerable to everything. My daughter willingly believes in imaginary characters, princesses on magic carpets and fairies living in our garden. Its as if the act of believing creates the magic in her life. It seems children have belief in the good things in the world even once they know, logically, that something doesn’t exist. I’m not saying that adults should start believing in the Easter Bunny, but the capacity to have faith in people and see the good that may exist could be so useful in a world that somehow always seems to feel dangerous and hopeless.
Lucy: “I like the storm mummy. The thunder is loud and scary but after the sky will be so pretty.”
It doesn’t matter that she’s terrified of the noise, the prospect of a rainbow will still make Lucy smile. Kids look for beauty everywhere and they find it. Its the reason why every little girl thinks her mum is the prettiest in the world while most mums stare anxiously in the mirror wondering why they don’t measure up. Its refreshing that they can find beauty in tiny things – ladybirds, daisies, plaited hair. If only we adults could see what they see, I’d wager we would all be a little happier.
Adulting is hard work. It can be scary, pressure filled and downright exhausting. Somewhere along the way as we go from children into grown ups we lose part of ourselves that dreams big, isn’t afraid of falling, believes in itself and others and notices the surrounding beauty. It’s not practical, or even possible, to unlearn all we know that made us leave that behind. But perhaps from our children we can learn to rekindle the instincts that made being a kid so wonderful.