When I became a parent almost 5 years ago, I never imagined that my children would teach me so much. I think most new parents look into their newborns eyes and contemplate all of the wonderful things they will teach their kids, the places they will go, and all of the wonderful adventure they will have together. Some parents even reflect on their own childhood and vow “I’ll never do that to my kids”. A few new parents may even reflect on the things their parents did right and promise to do the same with their little ones but rarely do we look at our children and say, “What are you going to teach me?”
My belief is that life is a journey. If the point of a vacation is just to get back home, then why do we go on vacation in the first place? So… it must be about what we do in the middle. Parenting is no exception. The point of raising kids is not to get them off to college and grown but about what we do in the middle and if there is ever a perfect opportunity for self growth, its parenting.
Children don’t come into this world with the small nuances that only maturity brings and they don’t care. They are not supposed to because for them, it’s all about enjoying their journey.
On a simpler note, I recently had a conversation with my sister about her kids. She has 3 that are 4 year apart and the oldest one is almost 5. She was telling me a funny story about how they ended up with a big hole in their downstairs living room and were now interviewing contractor to fix said hole. Well, they routinely bath all 3 kids together every night. One night, she was getting the baby out then went across the hall to get him dressed. She could hear the other 2 playing and she was only gone a minuet but when she came back into the bathroom, they both got quiet and just smiled. (never a good sign) She didn’t see anything majorly wrong so washed them then went back to check on the baby in the other room. Again, the other 2 were laughing and playing very good together so there was no cause for alarm. Then the fire alarm went off downstairs. Frantically, she grabbed the 2 out of the bath and the baby out of the other room, ran downstairs, out the door and dropped the 3 at the neighbors house then went back to investigate (after instructing the neighbor to call the fire dept and her husband.) When she got back into the house, instead of finding smoke downstairs, she found water; a lot of water… It turned out that this was a pattern of the middle child. He LOVED to take his bucket, fill it with bath water and promptly dump it out of the bath.
My question to my sister was why are you still letting him play with the bucket? We could make the argument about teaching him to play the “right way” but giving a bucket to a baby and telling him not to dump it is like giving chocolate to a woman and saying don’t eat this. My sister didn’t learn anything from the first few times he did it so she didn’t change anything. There are a lot of different things she could have done to prevent this situation but she didn’t. Usually, if we ignore a problem it will just get bigger until we can’t ignore it anymore. It was impossible for her to ignore the fire alarm and the waterfall coming from that same alarm.
Children have so much to teach us and most of the time, we as “the adults” think it’s the other way around. If we could just stop for a moment and look at life through the eyes of our children, we would be amazed. We might remember the joys of making mud pies, or we could learn to live in the moment or we might or maybe, just maybe, we would remember how fun it is to dump water all over the floor without thinking about who’s going to clean it up.