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.

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
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
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.

Where will abbah sit?

January 19th 2011

Everyone was sitting at the dinner table as I was coming up the stairs. All of the kitchen chairs were filled & Maayan was worried that I wouldn’t have a place. So when I came in, Maayan said, “Where will Abbah sit? That’s Ok, I will share my seat.”

Endearing, adorable, delicious. Heart warming, heart opening – it breaks our hearts that there’s such sweetness in a three year old. Really though, there are no words to capture such pure goodness…

Toddlers are taught at a young age to share. Sharing is actually one of the bigger things that we’re all taught when we’re younger. It’s almost a test of a toddler’s character. Do they share? Do they keep things to themselves? How do they react when others want their things? It’s common conversation amongst parents.

But once it’s in the system, toddlers take deep pride in their sharing. They know it’s a big deal, they know we’re looking. And when they do share, they sense what a feat it is. Because the parents usually make a big deal about it; and rightfully so.

Hold on a second though, what about adults? Do adults share? Sharing for adults is weirdly different. If I have a new phone I won’t go up to someone and say, “I would like to share this with you.” Especially not with eyes of pride and excitement. When an adult invites another adult over to their home – it’s mostly talking, sometimes playing, not so much sharing. We just don’t share: we say “check this out” or “look at this” – but we don’t say, “I will share this with you.”

For adults, sharing is just not done in the same way that toddlers do it. Let’s face it: toddlers not only share, they share with pride and excitement.

I say that we all go back to sharing. Not perusing, not looking around – total sharing. Make a list of five important things you have, contact a friend or an acquaintance and say, “I will share this with you.” Although it might not generate the same feeling as when a toddler shares – keep on going with that, people are bound to open up.

Share your cool office chair, your clothes, your home, your dishes. Adults actually have many things that they can share – and the toddlers would definitely be proud to see it happen.

If we teach our children to share, then let’s show them how it’s really done.

Life lesson of a toddler #7: Go out of your way to share your favourite things with friends and acquaintances; it’s the real test of character.

Giddyup Horsie!

January 18th 2011

What do you get when you have a rocking chair, a bucket and some blankets?

If you asked Maayan today, the rocking chair is a horse, the bucket a hat and the blankets for extra flare. Maayan was riding her rocking chair and bucket through the kitchen and into the sunset, just like a rootin’ tootin’ cowboy. “Giddyup horsie” was going throughout the house as she transformed Halifax into the wild west with her bucket and blankets.

The horse in the wild west is just one of Maayan’s many adventures. The truth is that I saw this adventure, but most I’m not privy to. When there is a measuring spoon hanging on a light switch, or when her toy cat is drinking from an empty coffee mug or even when her baby doll is sleeping under covers – we’re not always aware of the many adventures being had around the house. I guess because I’m not a toddler.

For adults, a coffee mug is used for drinking coffee and a measuring spoon is used for measuring things – but for a toddler the possibilities are endless. So endless that adults can’t even fathom what’s even possible! While adults see things and situations as they are, toddlers see things as they can be.

I’m sure you’ve met real adults in your life, God knows I have. If you ever see one, let them know that the world can look different than they think they see it. Allow them a glimpse into the world of a toddler so they’ll understand that however they label their life and world – there are other ways of looking at it. Try giving them a measuring spoon and see if they know that it belongs on a light switch.

Make sure that the adult knows that this is not theoretical. The best way is to take immediate action. Have them turn their own office space into the wild west: chairs can be horses, co-workers can be cowboys and hallways fading sunsets – just keep on hollering “giddyup”. Although this might be for an advanced class, let them understand that their world can be different and better if they allow it to be.

Life lesson of a toddler #6: See the unseen in everything & use your imagination to paint yourself in a more colorful day.

Can you read to me?

January 17th 2011

I was sitting at my desk doing some work for an upcoming class when I saw two puppy eyes looking up at me with a book in hand. Yarden, who just began to walk, was using her new found talent to bring books for me to read to her.

Can you say anything but yes to a year and a half year old with puppy eyes? And those cheeks – who can say no to those cheeks?

Book reading for a year and a half year old is very different than book reading for adults. Adults have gigantic books of several hundred pages without any colors or pictures. Toddlers  often have 4 page books that are mostly with colors. So we finished our book much faster than the time it takes adults to read their books.

Fast forward sixty seconds and the situation is repeated: work at desk, puppy eyes, hands with book. How can you say no to such deliciousness?

After ten minutes we have repeated this adventure to the extent that I have a small library of picture books with big words around my feet. Although it is true that often both my daughters are found reading on their own, they’re sweet enough to ask their parents to read for them as well.

That’s the real beauty of it all: share the treasure, spread the wealth. Yes there are times to read on your own, but there are also times to ask someone to read for you. Why do adults do one and not the other? Let’s all read books together! If you have a report to read – why not read it with your boss? In fact, ask him to read it for you. How can he say anything but yes? When at home with family, nothing will bring the family together than reading books to one another. And even if you don’t have picture books with big words, any kind of book will do.

We live in an adult world of individuals. But toddlers are ending all this isolation and loneliness by bringing everyone into the picture. Sometimes reading on their own, sometimes asking others to read for them. If they’re not afraid, why should you be?

It will bring us all closer together. Just try it: either at home, in the office or in the library – ask someone to read for you. Maybe you don’t even have to say anything. Like Yarden, if you’re sincere enough, how can anyone say no?

Life lesson of a toddler #5: Ask someone to read for you; don’t forget the puppy eyes.