In all situations ask: what would a toddler do?

Posts tagged ‘LEARN TO FALL’

Before there was me

Today Maayan said, “After Hashem (God, meaning “the Name”, as traditionally said in Judaism) fixed me, I had feet and hands. Then Hashem fixed my sister.”


Although I don’t have the clearest recollection of what my life was like before I was born, Maayan seems to have a pretty good grasp on things. My little 4 year old is pretty comfortable in thinking of life before life and existence before having a body. I didn’t always have what I have, there was a time when it had to all come together and thankfully it did.


What is so profound for me is how simple it is for a toddler. It is somehow obvious to a toddler how things were not always as they are. Maayan loves looking at herself as a baby. She is always saying how, “when I was a baby…”


Toddlers are cool with change. They see it all the time. They see baby pictures, smaller clothes and shoes without laces. They see other babies and older kids and are able to see themselves in context of consistent growth. Even more profoundly, at least in my own experience with my daughter, understanding what life was like before birth is as clear as a clear sippy cup.


Adults are not so fast with change, it’s a hard thing for them. Birthdays, as signs of change, are not fun for adults. Usually their cards are equipped with such phrases as “over the hill” or “it’s all downhill from here” and other references to hills, gravity and falling. Changes in jobs, relationships, presidents and TV shows are not taken with ease. Let alone thinking of life before life.


For toddlers however, change is a given. We didn’t always have what we have. Things used to be one way, now they’re another. At one point there was only me, now there are others. I was smaller, now I’m bigger and my shoes have laces. For a toddler, change is always happening and they’re happy with every move.


Life lesson of a toddler #22: Change happens, enjoy the ride & appreciate all the many gifts along the way.


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.

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.

Walk, fall, walk, fall…

January 21st 2011

Yarden, our year and a half year old, has been walking for about two weeks. So walking is still a new thing for her. It’s beautiful, it’s endearing and it’s absolutely delicious to see those small legs in action. It’s also something to learn from.

Quite often, as with anything we’re new at, Yarden falls. Whether it’s bumping into an unexpected table, an adult not noticing or the floor a little slippery – falling happens. So does getting right back up.

Every time that Yarden falls down, she gets right back up. She even smiles as she falls, knowing intuitively that it’s part of the process. She gets it, she’s happy, she’s real. Adults have a lot to learn.

While Yarden and her nation of toddler-babies smile as they fall, adults seem to do the opposite: they frown and stay down.

Adults refer to staying down as “dwelling”, “worrying” or even “thinking about it”. Adults are past the walking stage, so their falling is more of an emotional, psychological one. Often, adults have a very difficult time moving on, going forward or getting up. Adults are also pained by their fall. Whether it be mistakes, saying the wrong thing, making the wrong decision or any type of adult-fall – they don’t get up as quickly as toddler-babies.

I invite everyone who is a member of the elite adult universe to just get up like a toddler. Smile, because it’s part of the process. Move on, because you have where to go. Get up and get going, because as long as you’re down, you’re not moving anywhere. Yarden, and her cohorts at baby nation, have lots to do – so they can’t afford to stay down. They smile and keep on going.

Life lesson of a toddler #9: Falling is part of an active lifestyle – so don’t stay down if you fall, just get up and get moving.