In all situations ask: what would a toddler do?

Don’t remember?

January 22nd 2011

Last week, while eating lunch, Maayan (3 years old) left the table for a few minutes. When Maayan left, we were still at the table and I was looking for some bread. I could only find one piece on the table and once I did, I enjoyed it with pleasure and gratitude.

Maayan came back to the table and sat in her seat. She began looking around the table until she finally said, “where’s my bread?”

Uh oh….

I didn’t notice that the bread I took was hers. Obviously had I known I wouldn’t have taken it. I felt horrible. Seriously, taking bread from a three year old? My insides were turning & so were Maayan’s.

Maayan was rightfully upset. She was waiting for her bread when she came back and it was gone. I put my hands in the air, walked slowly towards her and said, “Maayan, I took your bread by mistake. I didn’t know it was yours, I’m very very (very very) sorry. I won’t do it again, you can have a cookie after lunch.” Maayan got it, she understood “sorry” and quickly re-focused her mindset to the cookie.

A week later, today, as we were sitting at the table, Maayan had to get up. As Maayan was getting up from the table, she turns her head to me and says, “But this time please don’t take my bread, ok?” I assured Maayan I wouldn’t touch anything.

The thing is that a whole week went by & we didn’t talk about that episode once. A week later, in the same context, Maayan saw the whole thing clearly. So did I, and I was not going to make the same mistake again.

This is an important thing to remember for adults: children remember everything. While adults tend to forget things, toddlers don’t. Adults need post-its, secretaries, phones, computers and spouses to make sure they don’t forget. Like myself and many adults, even all those reminders need reminders. But toddlers don’t, they remember.

Parents, teachers, counsellors, adults: everything that you do, your children will remember. If you get angry, they remember. If you say something not nice, they remember. If you take their bread, they remember.

When toddlers grow to be adults, they talk about what they remember as toddlers. They remember how adults behaved: they remember who was naughty and who was nice, who was encouraging and who was not, who was happy, who was great, who was funny, who was not. Everything you do will come back to you. If you’ve lived your life like a toddler, you have a bright future. Those children will cherish you, love you, adore you and talk about those great days years ago.

But If you lived like an adult – start baking cookies.

Life lesson of a toddler #10: Children do not forget: be your best self today so you can enjoy a sweet tomorrow when they’re grown up.

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