In all situations ask: what would a toddler do?

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All the time in the world

Adults have schedules, deadlines, appointments & meetings. Adults have watches on their wrists, on their walls, on their phones, in their cars and in their heads. Adults seem to have less and less time as they keep watch more and more. While adults are busy and rushed, toddlers have all the time in the world.

Toddlers might have watches but they don’t look at them. Toddlers might have clocks in their kitchens and bedrooms, but they don’t notice them. Parents and siblings might even try to have toddlers notice the time. And they can try all they want, but toddlers won’t notice, because they have all the time in the world.

Like most parents and adults, we have schedules, meetings and clocks. Like all toddlers, Maayan couldn’t care less.

Sometimes in the mornings if we’re running a little late for Maayan’s preschool, we try to get Maayan to get ready quicker. We say things like, “Come on Maayan, you don’t want to be late.” Or “If we leave in a few minutes you’ll have more time at preschool.” Maayan listens, but she is in no rush. She takes her time, does what she needs to do in a calm and collected way. Maayan, like royalty, is totally together with what she needs to do to be her best self everyday.

In any situation if we’re running a little late, Maayan is never phased to hurry up. Time seems to be a reality only to adults. Toddlers seem to be entirely unaware of time, and that seems to work in their favor.

While adults have quotes to help them stop and smell the flowers, toddlers are smelling them all the time. Oblivious to time, toddlers are calm, happy and enjoy their lives.

Because Maayan can’t be rushed, in the moments where I would be – I can’t be. I can’t rush because Maayan can’t be rushed. In those moments, I stop realizing the time and I’m calmed. I relax because Maayan is relaxed and I no longer have to stop to smell the flowers – because I’ve stopped.

The truth is that we have a lot more time than we realize. Maybe we should stop paying so much attention to the time and everything that reminds us of it. Maybe we should live more like toddlers and have all the time in the world.

Life lesson of a toddler #30: There is no need to rush, you have all the time in the world.

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Don’t worry, it’s ok

The other day at Maayan’s birthday party was the following incident with a few of her friends. Maayan was drawing with her friend while another boy was a little upset about something. Not sure what it was, but he wasn’t happy. As Maayan was drawing she calmly said to the boy, “don’t worry, it’s ok“. The boy said back, “no it’s not!” To which Maayan confirmed, “no, it’s ok. Don’t worry.”

Then they kept on playing.

I didn’t know what was going on, maybe Maayan did. Not too many details were clear for anyone at this point. What was clear though was the reassurance that everything will be ok. Hey, if a 4 year old says it, it has to be true.

In all honesty, does a 4 year old really know that everything will be ok? Maybe it won’t! Whatever the reason this boy is upset – maybe it won’t be ok. Maybe the boy should dwell on what’s gone wrong. Maybe the boy should put all his energy and focus on how bad everything is, how “not ok” everything is. After all, if adults do it…

For a 4 year old, they might not have an 8 ball or a crystal ball, but intuitively they know everything will be ok. Most children from the time they are a baby until they’re even past the toddler stage are able to quickly forget about something bad. If something upset them, in a healthy environment, chances are they’ll be over it soon enough.

Toddlers are able to change perspectives very quickly. They are able to switch focus almost instantaneously. It is a rare quality for adults to do though. Adults are very fond of circular thinking, dwelling and playing rerun on a host of negative experiences. Go into most therapists offices and you’ll hear tons of dwelling and over focus on the negative.

Maybe all we need is a toddler to tell us not to worry and that it’s ok. Not that it will be ok, but that it is ok. If a toddler can figure out how to switch a negative lens to a positive focus, I’m sure intelligent adults can figure out a way as well. Maybe all we need to do is listen to our inner toddler telling us not to worry, it’s ok. You know what? The more we do, the more our brains will be able to see it.

Life lesson of a toddler #17: Really and truly – don’t worry, it is all ok. Move on, move forward, and keep on playing!

Star of the week

When I dropped Maayan off at preschool today, her wonderful and amazing teacher asked me, “do you know who is the star of the week?” Not sure what the whole concept was, my face said, “come again?”. So she said that Maayan was the star of the week – and Maayan was shining right next to me. I would even go as far to say that Maayan was twinkling like a little star – but really she was a big shining star!

If you’re wondering what this is all about, I’ll explain. On one of the walls in the room is a big colorful board that has on it a picture of the star of the week. All the toddlers in the class put something nice to say about the star of the week. They sign their names to confirm that indeed these are their opinions. Contracts are written up, lawyers are brought in, lots of drama…oh wait, no, that never happens with toddlers.

While adults seem to be big on the concept of critique and having opinions of others, toddlers are big on saying nice things about other people. “He wears colorful socks” or “she was nice to me when I was feeling sad”, “she’s my best friend” or even, “I don’t know”. Hey, the effort counts.

The point is that in the adult world there is a big value of doing the opposite than having a star of the week. Every magazine cover, news report and check out line at the super market is filled with critiques of other people. I say, live like a toddler and let’s say simple things like, “they look nice” or “they share”. Let’s see magazine covers about people who talk nicely, make people happy and wear colorful socks.

I think every office of every organization should have a star of the week. Have a big colorful board with a picture of anyone in the organization with everyone else saying nice things about them. I guarantee that if organizations of any kind would all start doing that, the atmosphere of the workplace would skyrocket with positive energy. And the star of the week would shine as brightly as Maayan.

Life lesson of a toddler #16: Have a star of the week in your home or office. Do so and everyone will be shining like 4 year olds.

Always an opportunity

Maayan’s “Good girl” cup (in Hebrew)

Maayan usually drinks from a small little cup that says on it, “good girl”. It’s pretty cute, so we encourage it. Today, when we were about to give Maayan something to drink, we couldn’t find the cup. So we told Maayan that we’ll use another cup today and wait to find her cup for another time. Maayan took it in and calmly said, “ok.”

Putting my foot down, even on something so trivial as what cup to drink from is not always easy. The cup is a bigger deal to Maayan than it is to us. So when we said no and Maayan acquiesced, it gave us enormous pride and pleasure.

When we sat down to eat we gave Maayan another cup, a bigger cup. With a bigger cup comes more juice and Maayan seized the opportunity. Instead of pouring a little bit of juice, she almost filled it to the top.

While this might sound simple or even silly, to me it’s very deep. Maayan, like many toddlers and even more adults, could have been upset with not getting what she wanted. She could have responded to not drink until the cup is found, not to drink at all, not to drink from the cup we gave her, etc. Thank God none of that happened, but any of that could have happened. It happens in board meetings and offices throughout the world: when someone doesn’t get what they want, they let everyone know. Whether it be a stare, a cold shoulder, shouting or name calling – there is a plague of tantrums when we don’t get what we want.

Maayan though, played it cool and lived like a toddler. Maayan saw opportunity in not getting something: the bigger cup & more juice! Opportunity is always knocking & toddlers are always finding ways to let them in.

Life lesson of a toddler #14: The next time something doesn’t go your way, wait it out and keep on looking for opportunity. It’s knocking, just let it in.

Hymn of a childs’ cry

January 25th 2011

Children laugh & run.
Children are fun.
Children are fascinating, interesting, beautiful and then some.
Children make you feel old & also very young.
Children are never done.
To their home, they love to come.
Children often say “yumm.”

Children also cry. They cry a lot.

Children cry if things don’t go their way,
Or if they’re not being heard by what they say.
But children cry mostly for having so much inside of them
that can’t always make it’s way out
in words or phrases, they’re quite young to articulate
very tough to communicate
in a language still new
in figuring out the role of you.

So many things going on:
Like rules of bed time,
no saying “that’s mine”.
“no sweets, no treats”
To eat sweet treats, what a feat
But they can’t and must admit defeat
Not easy when you’re three
When you’ve just begun to be
Just tasted “me”
Newly alive
Feel like going fast in overdrive
thrive
high-five
excited lives
toys, trucks & bee hives
everything’s sweet like honey
no concept of money
love little white bunnies
always hopping, always bumping
bouncing like balls
run in the halls
draw on the walls
no need to erase
to clean up in haste
No need to waste
everything is in place

Why all these rules
I trust mom & dad
but sometimes they make me sad
make me mad
to go to bed or brush my teeth
when I’d rather eat treats.

Can’t put it all in one piece
Can’t see
the forest from the trees
It’s all new to me
I feel like
I don’t know
but it’s got to go
outside with emotion
feeling commotion
on the inside
I want to cry
I want to shout.
It’s hard to receive
so many rules and laws
like adam and eve
I just want to eat from the tree.
They’re telling me no
I want to go
but no
place to hide
feeling so much inside
but I’m not sure why
& that’s why I cry.

So please listen adults & parents:
Be sensitive to their cry
don’t lose patience
just try
to feel what they feel
& see what they see.
They’re not you & me
they’re 2, maybe three
let them be
let them cry a little.

Feel their newness
see their cuteness
innocence
preciousness
a treasure to trust
a gold mine, don’t thrust
impatience on them
you were once them
do you remember when?
Remember how you hated
all the rules they regulated?
Be them, don’t be you
don’t see what but who
don’t say no
just ask why
do they cry
& you’ll find out why.
When you listen you’ve gained
precious trust
they see that you’re wise
you have a soul on the inside
they love you for appreciating
what they go through
seeing them not you
giving them space to be
a toddler of 2 or three
it can all be sweet if you let it be.
By giving them time,
giving them space and reason
show them they have someone to trust
someone who loves and who cares
someone who dares
to see life through their eyes…

They’re waiting for you
to stop all the whats and begin the who
let them be them
and you be you
together you’ll grow
like a tree with deep roots
with branches of sweet fruits.
All things of the earth need rain
tears flow down
from the sky
way up high
beyond what we see
beyond what we know
to let things grow
you have to let them be
you have to let them cry
If you listen you’ll know why
They’ll tell you I
love you for listening
and letting me be
thank you mom & dad
sometimes I get sad,
but I’m happy I cried…

Life lesson of a toddler #13: We all have a lot going on inside, so cry, it brings joy…

Dancing Mood, Yes!

January 23rd 2011

I came home last night and felt like dancing. Coming home to my family, I felt like dancing. I took Maayan & Yarden and we started dancing around the house.

I didn’t know if Maayan would feel like it – but she did. She’s always up for it. I can’t say that every time that  I come home I feel like dancing – but Maayan and Yarden do. They’re always in the mood to dance.

Not only are they always in the mood to dance around the house (unless they’re in need for a nap or snack), but when I’m done they say they want more! We dance, we sing, they’re happy, I’m happy and there’s no specific reason. They’re young & always in the mood to dance.

Adults need to do more dancing. Yes, there are clubs, classes, weekends & shows for dancing – but I’m talking toddler dancing. Monday morning, Tuesday afternoon dancing. Not a dance that you need to learn or compete for, but a dance that is as natural as walking or talking. Nothing to be learned or taught, just felt and expressed.

Morning’s not a good time? Afternoon you’re busy? Your boss is looking? Feeling tired? Wrong, wrong and wrong. Morning is the best time, you can fit in 2 minutes to dance in the afternoon, your boss would love to dance with you and you’re only tired because you haven’t danced. You’d be surprised how much energy a human being can have once you start using it. Just ask a toddler.

Life lesson of a toddler #11: Get up & Dance throughout the day because you’re alive.

Hugs are welcome

January 20th 2011

Our year & a half year old daughter Yarden has been on a mission lately. She calls it, “operation-hug-everyone”.

I might be a direct target, because for the past while, the minute I walk in the door, those small little legs come a’ walking over to me with smiling eyes telling me that I’m about to be hugged. She comes up to me, I lift her up and she puts her head on my shoulder, arms wrapped around.

Deep, very deep gratitude. Deep, very deep joy.

Thanks Yarden, that welcome of hugs and shoulder can make a great day amazing and a bad day awesome.

That is the power of a hug and the power of giving one with sincerity. Which is why I’m surprised that the adult world has switched from hugs to handshakes. In fact, I would say that adults are obsessed with hand shakes. Every time you meet someone, see someone, talk to someone – we’re shaking hands. It’s more than contagious, it’s almost an addiction.

The world would be a really better place if everyone remembered that those hands are connected to arms and can be used as well. We should start a hugging campaign. No more photo ops of politicians shaking hands – let them give each other a bear hug. That would really say that change is happening and progress to world peace is imminent.

Even better – let’s say you’re going for an interview. Instead of giving the potential employer a traditional handshake, give them a hug. Even if you don’t get the job, which you likely will, at least you’ve made their day. It’s actually a great story for that boss to come home with. “Yeah, I was giving this interview and instead of shaking my hand, they just hugged me. I didn’t know what to say or do, so I just hugged them back. But I guess I liked it! I think I made a new friend honey.” Right?

We all know we should do more hugging. When anyone comes home – give them a hug. Don’t say hi, don’t ask them to do something – just put everything down and give them a nice big bear hug.

Thanks Yarden…

Life lesson of a toddler #8: Stop giving handshakes and start giving hugs to everyone constantly.