"The fundamental job of a toddler is to rule the universe" Lawrence Kutner
Kids are truly awe-inspiring people. There's something about them and their fresh perspectives on the world that adults just don't quite get. The ways they understand or at least approach understanding the world has just as much nuance as it does randomness. When we take the time to pay attention there is much to be learned. I had the opportunity to spend a few a days taking care of two year-old nephew, affectionately referred to as the Little Prince by me, myself, and I. In that time I took so much from spending time with him, other than reaffirming how truly phenomenal he is as a person, just the applicable things he's learning/being taught and their implications for my life is an adult-in-progress. Patience, patience, patience. In a world where I am constantly moving, zooming, speeding, to an fro I had to adjust to his pace. The few moments I found myself getting frustrated with his little sweet face were more about me than him, I realized. Why was I so used to instant results? Why was I so quick to want to try to expedite things? Why wasn't I willing to just be in awe for a few moments? He has this hilarious intonation he does with his voice that makes everything exciting, and he takes a minute to put his sentences (well paragraphs now) together. Instead of asking the question again before he'd had time to think I learned to wait, and that there needed to be kindness in that waiting. It wasn't a wait of hurried anticipation, it was one of curious admiration. The subtle difference there was striking. The same happens in the adult world where we rarely create time or space for people to just think things though, often demand rapid responses, and rarely stop to process conversations in the moment. Time is the most valuable thing you can give to others, spend it wisely but spend it nonetheless.
Be present, and show you care. I mean be with people, and
Kids run on their own schedules and do their own thing. I found myself getting exhausted even though I didn't mean to. I'm telling when I say I love this kiddo with all that I am, I cannot say enough. Every time I wanted to be short with him, I remembered that I needed to be kind, to give grace, and to provide space for him to be vulnerable, to learn, and to grow. I had to assume best intentions, because he always meant well. I think taking that lesson, with a grain of salt, to assume that people are rarely trying to be hurtful, offensive, oppressive, etc. on purpose means that we can approach them differently. Intent versus impact has become disregard the intent and reconcile with the impact, and don't get me wrong, holding people accountable for their words and actions matters AND, and, and, the intention does matter. Malicious intent differs greatly from by product of ignorance, recklessness, or being inconsiderate. There's a different depth there. There's more room for coming back together, preserving relationships, and maintaining peace. The little prince would make a sad or angry face for a few moments, and then would laugh, giggle, smile. He never meant it. He didn't intend to have a negative impact. That distinction means something. I think it's time to (hesitantly, skeptically, carefully, etc.) give people some slack and seek to come to resolutions more often then we do severing relationships.
The little prince had this nightly routine where we would change his diaper, pick out and put on his jammers, select books, read said books, and then he would climb into his bed where he would say, "talk about my day." That was signal for me to remain in a literal rocking chair where he recounted all the endeavors of his day from start to finish. It was toddler therapy time. It was confession. It was a verbal diary for him. In the moment it was hilarious for me, but in retrospect what he was doing was truly significant. He wanted me to listen actively and respond accordingly. He wanted it to just be me and him. He wanted my full attention. He wanted to speak about his day, say what he needed to say, process out-loud all that he experiences, and make sense of what went well and what he could have done differently. Think about that. How often do we give our full attention to someone else? How often do we do the reflection that we really need to be doing? How often do we share our pitfalls as much as our successes? It's going to be my new thing just to talk about my day, whether it be with another person, a friend from distance, or just to myself. I want to speak out what happened to me to me, and what I did/said. I think it's a taking a responsibility and self-accountability that we often overlook. There's wonderment in hearing yourself, feeling the words leave your lips, the air fill in your lungs, and the feeling wash over you. *Apologies for the inaccessibility of that ableist description.* It's a reckoning of yourself as a someone who is alive and living life. Do you get that?
They call the twos terrible for a reason but in reality, the twos aren't so bad when you're willing to give grace in experiencing them. There were times where I could see him get frustrated, antsy, or too silly and we'd have to take a timeout. This funny thing happened where he would sit for a little bit or lay down, and then would pop up totally refreshed, energized, and put together. He would like out this exasperated sigh like he was letting go of all the bad energy, anger, or anxiousness, and would say "I feel better now." I'm telling you this kid was just practicing self-care as if it was nothing. Think about that. How different would our days be, particularly in interacting with challenging folx if we took some time out for ourselves to get our minds right (or they did the same) before coming together? What if we removed ourselves from situations that we weren't being our best in and only came back when we had chosen a better attitude? How different would life be if we could let go some of the heaviness we pick up during the day instead of transferring it to others? Coming back only when we're ready, willing, and able to engage could make a world of difference for improving the ways people experience one another.
Kiddos find wonder in the little things. Maybe it's because everything is new for them, or because they have an appreciation for lives that not been heavily socialized, sterilized, and minimized. The way he would just run his small hands through the kinetic sand. He was mesmerized for an hour and a half one with it. There would be times I would be reading to him and he would turn to just look at my face. I mean examine it, with this profound sense of admiration and care. He would smile or laugh, and go back to listening. I think he wanted to make sure I was real, and that I was really there. Do you ever those moments, where life can feel phantasmagorical that you need to ground yourself for a second? Those are some of the most impactful moments. It's that split second where you step out of yourself just to observe all the things and people around you. It takes a keen sense of awareness. The times he would say thank you, would ask for help, or wanted you to be with him were unforgettable because you knew he meant it all. This wonderment that so many people lose as they go into the world has the ability to revolutionize days. It's an appreciation for all things and people, for what/who they are. It's an authentic positivity that's not rooted in superficiality but rather a humble perspective on the world. What if we found wonderment in the mundane? What if we made the profane sacred? What if we made the most of where we are and who we're with? Wonderment is all around us if only we take the time to embrace it. Look up, look out, look around, and take it all in. This is a world full of wonder even if its not always a wonderful world. X