In all situations ask: what would a toddler do?

Posts tagged ‘honesty’

Happy Birthday – Oh Yeah…

Yesterday was the most anticipated, spoken of and hyped up day of the year for Maayan. Yes, it was her birthday.

For the past 8 months, Maayan has been speaking almost daily about her upcoming birthday. When we spoke about my mothers’ birthday, Maayan said, “and then it’s…my birthday!” Everything seemed to be within the context of her birthday, and rightfully so. She’s turning 4!

We had a small but huge birthday party for Maayan: some of her friends came over, we had a craft painting project, everyone 4 and under danced like crazy with music, had cake, presents and play time. When the birthday cake came out, I could only describe her face as glowing, beaming and shining. This was it, this was the big day – we have arrived.

Maayan’s friends were also thrilled to the max. They were just as happy for Maayan to open her presents as she was. It was as if they said, “yeah, this is what we do. This is what it’s all about”. They wrote little cards and were happy as anything to give the birthday girl her much anticipated presents. They each had a bit of the cake, spent 5 minutes opening the presents – and it was time to play something else. They work hard & they play hard too.

By the end of it, after about 90 minutes of birthday heaven, everyone was fairly tired. The toddlers needed to go home. Hey, it makes sense. If any adult were to put that much excitement into something, they would also be fairly tired by the end of it. Cake and all.

As parents, we were beyond happy about the great day and the sweet little-but-huge party. We were happy for our three year old to turn four. We were happy for her goodness, her happiness, her sweetness and purity. Life is one big wonderful when you’re a toddler. On your birthday, the volume of awesomeness is just turned up.

Life lesson of a toddler #15: Don’t settle for less, make your birthday a huge deal. Invite friends, have cake, open the presents with everyone around and dance like you’re 3 turning 4.

Advertisements

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…

I can read!

January 24th 2011

Today I went to pick my daughter up from her pre-school. As we’re getting ready, Maayan says, “Abbah, look, I can read the letters on my cubby: M-A-A-Y-A-N”. 3 years old, learning letters, letters of her own name – I was singing.

Throughout the day Maayan has been making more and more references to her letter recognition. An “M” here, an “A” there – it’s very exciting. We’re super proud and so is Maayan.

Parents of toddlers are often incredibly proud of these “small” achievements. From colouring in the lines to putting on shoes, from brushing their teeth without asking to recognizing letters. At each of these stages, parents swell with pride, are filled with smiles and tell all their friends & family of these feats.

While toddlers focus on their growth, adults tend to focus on their past. From awards to certificates, adults are always noticing past achievements. Offices & homes are decorated with these things. I say, we start to live like toddlers in two ways: To be totally proud and excited of our achievements and always look to grow more.

Instead of showing someone our University degree, we should say, “Look! Look what I did – I graduated from college!” with the same enthusiasm as a toddler. Remember the first time we drove a car, we should be excited about that every time we drive. So the next time someone comes into our car we should say, “Look! I can drive all by myself!” In fact, try and say “all by myself” any chance you get. “Look, I can ________ all by myself!” With excitement, enthusiasm & always looking to grow, we’ll be on the golden path of living like a toddler.

Life lesson of a toddler #12: Be proud of your accomplishments, especially the “small” ones and live with enthusiasm!

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.