They say a parent is a child’s first teacher. I hope that proves true for me and my 11-month-old son as he grows. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately because I’m about to start work on a master’s degree. (My first class starts in about 30 minutes.)
What I can say for sure right now is our teaching and learning relationship works both ways. During his relatively short time in my life he has taught me so much. He also has reminded me to commit to things I believed as a child but didn’t hold tightly as I aged.
- New is new, not scary.
- It’s easier to get back up if you don’t let the fall define you.
- Keep going until you figure it out.
- Are the black beans on my face really that important?
- Quiet time is good for everybody.
- Do what feels good.
- Wake up happy.
Every time my son does something for the first time he gets a wild expression. He seems to get that the sensations are new and relishes that. And now that he’s a proficient clapper, he’ll give himself an applause. I want to be more like my son when it comes to trying new things. I’ve been thinking about his free, joyous reaction to all things new as I walk to my yoga class and I think it has helped me be OK with where I am today.
He’s doing a lot more cruising. With cruising comes falling, but it doesn’t bother him. Sometimes he’s startled, or feels the sting of bumping into something, but he always moves forward. He doesn’t cling to fears that hold him back. He doesn’t avoid an area where he fell or get skittish and stop trying to walk. Just think of what the world could be if we all lived with a discovery-driven, rather than fear-driven, mind!
I’ve read things that suggest babies and toddlers don’t have the capacity for patience. You can’t believe everything you read. If he’s curious about something, the Little Guy will spend as long as it takes to figure it out. He’ll put a toy in his mouth, on the floor, I even saw him try to put a puzzle piece between his tiny toes. He wants to understand everything he can about things. I bet it is as much fun for me to watch as it is for him to experience.
My son’s least favorite part of his day – every day, without exception – is getting his face washed after meals. It’s not like he tries to escape from his highchair or something, but he will turn and sort of thrash, pushing away with his hands. I’ve tried making silly sounds, washing my own face first, etc. and he always has the same reaction. I think he just thinks it’s pointless. I imagine him saying “It doesn’t hurt anyone, why does it matter.” I won’t stop washing his face, making sure he’s “presentable,” as my mother would say, but I’ll keep it in mind. There are much more important things in the world than a middle class American kid having a clean face.
It’s great to take a break and unwind. My son reminds me of that every day. I classical music CD plays for him at bedtime every night and I am surprised by how often he listens to five or six songs, humming along, before he falls asleep. He enjoys being by himself, in his space, with his thoughts. And it reminds me that quiet alone time is good for all of us.
Scream. Clap. Giggle at the ceiling fan. My son does those things multiple times a day. IT reminds me to make time for the things that feel good – in our bodies, our minds and our hearts. Practice yoga. Eat something fresh and yummy. Go for a walk. Talk to a friend. Sing with your kids. Whatever does it for you.
If my son is awake when I enter his room in the morning, or after a nap, I’m greeted with the happiest sound. Half sigh, half giggle, he let’s me know before the light is even on that he is happy, ready for the day and glad to see me. I try to emulate this is my own morning attitude and I think it is making morning a bit easier. I gave up coffee when I got pregnant and this has been a nice way to focus myself awake.
Hopefully my husband and I will teach him lessons that are just as meaningful as he grows. What an adventure it will be!
What’s the best lesson your child has taught you?