Many years ago there was a popular book called Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Its theme was about centering your adult values around the same basic things you learn as a kid like play fair and don't hurt others and put things back where you found them. I've always loved the book, especially a chapter about dropping crayon bombs from the sky :) Read it - it's really easy to get through.
That book was the inspiration for this post which is all about the things I've learned from my kiddos over the years. Just like I said in yesterday's smatterings, we can learn a lot from the generations before us. In that same regard, we can also learn a lot from the youngest generation...little people who see things through unjaded eyes and with loads of curiosity. Even if you aren't a parent or want kids, I still think everyone should spend a little time with them to appreciate what they can teach us.
Here are my top ten things I've learned from my own little fellas:
#1 Using art supplies makes you happy. Every time.
If you tell me you've opened a fresh box of crayons next to a clean white piece of paper and DIDN'T feel at least a tiny bit happier, then I might call you a liar :) I don't care what age you are, you need paper and drawing utensils in your living quarters at all times. One of my favorite song lyrics of all time is from Sarah Vaughan -- "Doodlin' takes you beyond what you think." Amen, Sarah. And let me tell you a box of Crayolas is far cheaper than a fancy therapist!
#2 Refusing an ice cream cone when you're near an ice cream parlor is ridiculous.
We were on vacation in this photo below and were at an ice cream parlor (do people still call them that?). I was trying to lean up at the time for one thing or another and told The Dude I wasn't going to order a cone. He looked at me with genuine puzzlement and said, "what do you mean?" It was so innocent that I sort of vowed I wouldn't limit myself from special treats like ice cream with my kid. And we've had many great memories over some ice cream!
#3 Don't make scary things such a big deal.
My kids are always doing things that would scare me. When The Dude went on this bungee thing in Tahoe, I was kind of surprised. He just stood in line like a big guy and jumped as high as he could, laughing and smiling the whole time. When he got off I said, "Nice work! I can't believe you went up so high!" to which he said simply, "I don't know, I just wanted to do it so I did it." From the mouths of babes.
#4 If you stop rushing everywhere, you'll notice a lot of neat stuff in the environment around you.
For as long as I did environmental work in my younger days, you'd think I would slow down more and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us all the time living in San Francisco. The kids are constantly walking slower than me and my instinct 99% of the time is to say hurry up. But when I have the time to spare (and I almost ALWAYS do), I try to remind myself to slow down with them. It's a privilege to see the world through their eyes so I should quit making everything a rush and just be outside... eating the edible flowers and noticing how sharp pine cones can be and how unbelievable large some leaves are.
#5 Explore everything while asking questions.
I'm a talker. I like to talk. My kids like to talk too. Jon is more of a silent observer (unless he's had a few coffees) but he always answers the boys' questions because that's how kids learn. I love the different ways each of them absorbs information. One will study an ant from afar, observing what it's carrying or wondering where its home is. The other will want to see what it feels like to touch it (or unfortunately squish it sometimes). Living here there are endless opportunities to see something completely new or learn something completely unbelievable. Be a learner for life - that's what my boys have taught me.
#6 Why walk when you can run?
Look at this kid's form. I mean, come on. It's just so natural for them. They run everywhere. From here to there. Bathroom to kitchen. Car to front door. I love it. Croc is starting to get some wheels on him too! Fingers crossed one day a child of mine will actually want to go running with me. Dare to dream...
#7 Get in the picture, silly!
Many years ago - at a time when I think I needed it - I discovered a blog post written by Allison Tate called The Mom Stays in the Picture and immediately shared it with every single mom I knew. It's all about getting in the pictures along with your kids. Too many moms (and dads too) shy away from the camera when we feel we don't look our best. When we do that, we deprive our kiddos from seeing the real parts of parenthood. I like this part:
But we really need to make an effort to get in the picture. Our sons need to see how young and beautiful and human their mamas were. Our daughters need to see us vulnerable and open and just being ourselves — women, mamas, people living lives. Avoiding the camera because we don’t like to see our own pictures? How can that be okay?
And my kids have been saying this since they were old enough to talk: mommy, get in the picture! Finally I started to listen and now I'm so glad I have these old snapshots of special moments with them.
#8 Love animals. Hard.
There is something so awesome about seeing a kid watch an animal of any kind. In fact just this morning we saw a huge coyote crossing the street near school and we all got extremely excited. Jon even drove around a few times more to see if we could catch another glimpse.
#9 Be goofy. Be silly. Laugh a lot. Have fun.
Okay so maybe that's technically four things wrapped into one #9 but you get the drift. Let loose. Wear a silly hat. Laugh at a fart joke. Order room service by the pool. Let the Trolls soundtrack play on repeat and dance unabashedly! It just feels good.
#10 Sometimes I need some space.
Finally, I've learned from my kids that I love them so much that I need to remove myself from their presence occasionally to keep being a nice person. It's okay to admit it, parents. We need a break sometimes. Get out of the house and be a grown up. Wear a white silk shirt or inappropriately high shoes. Order something your kids would scoff at as a menu item like deep fried brussels sprouts topped with green salad and wheat germ. When I come back from a night out, I'm much more mellow about letting the spills and the fifth forgotten jacket at school roll off my back.
So tell me this: parent or not, have you learned anything recently from a kid? Share it with us!
(Almost) daily blogger. Sober runner. Mental sh*t stirrer. Pro gender equality in tech. Family first.