Re-blogged with permission by Lauren Keenan of Modern Mothercraft
Ah, toddlers. Those little beings given to us to keep us on our toes. Like many other parents, I spend a lot of time scratching my head in wonder at the seemingly random things my toddler does and says. It just makes no sense. For example, why did a particular song on the radio make him tear off his clothes and run to fetch a maraca? I am still in the dark on that one. Upon closer observation, though, I’ve started to think that instead of regarding my toddler with a quizzical expression, there are some behaviours I should emulate. Namely:
- Enjoy things with every fibre of your being.
The other day I was at a playground with my son. We were both having a great time going down the slide together. I smiled and thought ‘this is fun’. He, on the other hand, laughed so hard he couldn’t even stand up. It’s as if at some point around our adolescent years, we learned that it isn’t “cool” to be too enthusiastic about things. We adults laugh, but not so hard we shake. The only time you really see adults literally falling about laughing is when they’re drunk. This is a shame, and I think toddlers have a thing or two to teach us when it comes to truly enjoying the world around us.
- Forgive other people.
Toddlers don’t hold grudges. At a recent play date, another wee boy took my son’s favourite toy and threw it. Another girl tried to steal his doll. My son forgave them both instantly: no passive-aggressive Facebook status updates, no bitching to third parties, no grudge-holding for the next decade. If only we adults were as forgiving.
Of course, I don’t mean crying of the flailing-limbs-in-the-supermarket while yelling “I want chocolate” variety. But, I like the way that when something makes my son sad, he’ll cry. Yesterday, it was a scene in Frozen that made him so sad he shed a tear. Last month, it was when Grandma went home. Like the laughing I mentioned above, it’s a shame we regulate our emotions as much as we do. Maybe it would have been cathartic to have cried in Frozen as well.
- Be assertive.
Think about what you want, and go for it. Even if that thing is completely irrational, like for your broken bit of bread to magic itself back into one piece. I know there are plenty of times in my life I would benefit from being more assertive, and for adopting a toddler’s negotiation tactics.
- Ask questions.
Some days I hear the word “why?” so often even when I’m alone I feel that I can hear it. But, some days, my toddler asks questions, and I realise I don’t actually know the answer. Like, what’s the difference between a bison and a buffalo? I had to resort to Google for that, wondering all the while why I didn’t know, and why I’d never thought to look it up. Intellectual curiosity is never a bad thing, and I wonder at what stage I stopped asking why quite so often myself.
Of course, there are plenty of toddler behaviours which would lose you friends and probably get you fired. No-one would want to sit beside the person at work who throws a tantrum when their pasta has too much sauce on it, or does a wee on the middle of the floor.
But, still, I think we have a lot to learn from toddlers. And eventually, maybe I’ll start to understand mine a little bit better.
Lauren is a Wellington mother of two. She blogs at Modern Mothercraft, where she applies a 1945 handbook on motherhood to parenting in the modern day, as well as writing about other topical issues.Â