After my previous post, 7 Life Lessons I Learned From My Kids resonated with a lot of people, I came up with an additional list of life lessons that I wanted to share. Something tells me the list isn’t complete yet!
Reality: I could literally tell my kids anything and they would believe me. It’s a profound yet humbling realization that one should be careful never to abuse.
Takeaway: Unfortunately, our ability to trust as openly as children dissipates as we grow older, possibly marred by life experience or just being able to think more critically as adults. But certain aspects of trust open us up to possibilities we had never allowed ourselves to dream of, or they can give us the courage to jump into the next scary yet exciting phase in our lives.
GIGGLE ABOUT SILLY THINGS
Reality: Whenever I play with my kids, I often make silly faces, read stories to them in different voices, or sing songs they like with exaggerated facial expressions. They love this. They can’t get enough. Their ensuing giggles are the main reason why I keep on doing it. It’s such stress relief for all of us! They also enjoy making each other giggle over the silliest things without any shame.
Takeaway: Giggling seems to be related to childhood, and most adults (myself included) don’t really giggle anymore unless I see or hear something extremely unexpected and funny. I feel so relaxed afterward that I wonder why I usually suppress my giggles. Joy should always be expressed without embarrassment.
HAVE A HEART FULL OF WONDER AT THE WORLD AROUND YOU
Reality: When my kids play in my garden, they like to explore the plants with flower buds that are about to bloom. Just the other day, Pumpkin spotted a rosebud that had just begun to open its leaves, revealing a pop of pink.
“Mama,” she asked me, “can I help the flower and open the leaves?”
“No, honey, it doesn’t need any help. Did you know that while it’s sitting in the sun, the flower will open all by itself?”
The look on her face was priceless. I enjoy nature and spending time in my garden, but Pumpkin is feeling it on such a raw and innocent level.
Takeaway: The older we get, the more information we amass, and it can be easy to forget that there was once a time when we didn’t know what we know now. Immerse yourself in new experiences, get out of your comfort zone once in a while, and surprise yourself.
FIGHT FOR WHAT’S YOURS
Reality: Peanut, still in her terrible twos, repeatedly snatches toys and books from Pumpkin. I try to explain to Pumpkin why her younger sister does what she does, but to no avail. Pumpkin shouts for her toy or she cries for me to get it back for her. It can be annoying to deal with over and over, but in a way it’s inspiring, in that she doesn’t back down when something is taken away from her, and tries her hardest to get it back (even if she loses much of the time).
Takeaway: Sometimes when things don’t go our way, we can be complacent and just let it pass, such as when others take our parking spot or don’t move over to allow us room on the subway. Fighting isn’t always the wisest choice, but we should still feel some sense of our own dignity and not allow others to push us out of it.
SPEND TIME ALONE AND ENJOY IT
Reality: My kids like to play together, with me, and sometimes, separately by themselves. I consider myself a very social person and don’t usually prefer to spend time alone, unless I feel stressed or have to catch up on work on my computer. But many times, Pumpkin, after a solo play session, will approach me with some new contraption she’s built from random toys, telling me she can bake cookies with it, fly on it, or use it to style her hair. Though it’s just pretend play, it’s eye-opening to see how her little mind works when she spends time alone with her imagination.
Takeaway: It can be hard to take time for yourself, whether it’s because of work and home commitments, or because you just can’t wait to hang out with the girls again. Spending some time alone each day or a few times a week will really help us find our center and focus on what we want to achieve for that day or week, and may even help us find a solution to a nagging problem.
EAT AND DRINK WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE IT (AND THEN STOP)
Reality: Pumpkin is still a pretty picky eater, and has to be prompted to eat constantly. Peanut is a little foodie, though because of her current aforementioned Terrible Two Phase, now tells me what to do. Mealtimes in our house are sacred, and we keep a strict schedule as long as we’re home and following our normal routine. But since the kids don’t always feel as hungry as I wish they did for the amount of food on their plates, it can be frustrating. But time and time again, I see that they really do eat when they are hungry and only eat what they need.
Takeaway: In this day and age, it’s easy to fill up on unhealthy options, or overeat when we “eat with our eyes”. I think kids have the right idea when it comes to listening to their bodies and hearing what they need. Just make sure it isn’t always pizza and cake! (Note: don’t allow the kids to actually decide the menu till they’re a bit older.)
HUG THE ONES YOU LOVE WHEN GREETING
Reality: Pumpkin, now that she goes to preschool, has gained some independence from me, and is a bit more casual when seeing me, only hugging me when she hasn’t seen me for a while. Peanut, still forming her own identity, needs lots of reassurance that I’m close by, and gives me lots of hugs, which I love. The sight of her running towards me from a distance, like in a cheesy Bollywood movie, in order to embrace me always turns me into goo.
Takeaway: Ditch the handshake or the plain smile. Dress up your intimate greetings with a hug!
BE BRUTALLY HONEST
Reality: “Pumpkin, do you like when Mama wears this white scarf or that blue one?” I asked one day.
“The blue one is yucky,” she replied confidently.
I was hurt at first, since the blue one had been my first choice, but appreciated her candor. She has a budding dress sense at her young age and I ask her opinion now and then. I don’t always take her advice, but love watching how unabashed she is in her sincerity. How many of us would do the same for our friends and loved ones?
Takeaway: Husbands may tell you what they believe you wish to hear, while kids will be brutally honest. And that’s a good thing. They have no idea they are possibly hurting your feelings; they are straight up telling it like it is, and really, wouldn’t you rather have the honest truth anyway?
BELIEVE ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
Reality: “Mama, I want to go in the car and see the Eiffel Tower.” Pumpkin doesn’t realize that what she asks much of the time is just…impossible. Whenever I try to tell her, I receive a blank look. “Impossible” just isn’t in her vocabulary. So far, she believes that she can literally do anything.
Takeaway: It’s times like this that I really envy my kids and their innocence. They only see open roads, and it’s just a matter of choosing one of them.
The mindset of small children–this is what the big tech companies should be harnessing. Their limitless imaginations and sheer power to dream and invent would move mountains.
What lessons have your kids inspired in your life?