Parenting is the ultimate responsibility – as guardians we are charged with the
terrifying intimidating task of teaching another human being how to BE. It can be overwhelming to think that you (often accompanied by a partner) are responsible for preparing your little one to deal with every aspect of life. Gulp.
But, in addition to being alarming, scary and fatiguing, parenting can also be edifying. As most parents quickly realize, their child is often the wise one, and we’re the students, learning from them.
Today is Baby Grouch’s 1st birthday. Here’s a few life lessons she’s got all figured out, that I
absolutely always might need to occasionally work on. Thank you, Baby Grouch, for reminding me, this past year, what the important things in life really are.
1. Amuse yourself. She can find joy in anything. Listening to The Itsy-Bitsy Spider, opening the lid of her singing picnic basket to hear the tune, she smiles and dances. Uninhibited, unselfconscious. She pages through her books, she giggles at her stuffed monkey and she kisses her baby. She finds satisfaction in her surroundings, even if that includes ultra-analysis of the cat toys in the living room or the branches and dead leaves on the lawn.
2. Start each day anew. She wakes up happy, babbling to herself, singing. She plays with her feet, the bumper in her crib or she delights herself by pushing the button to turn her crib aquarium on, then off, then back on again. She awakes refreshed and ready to start the day.
3. Learn from others. She looks at you, and pays attention. When you speak to her, she studies your eyes, then your mouth, then looks back at your eyes. When you say “bye bye” or “those are shoes“, she studies the motion or the object, memorizing the terms and practices saying the words (suze!) or performing the actions herself. She’s not judging whether or not the person coaching her is “good enough” to teach her. She learns from everyone around her.
4. Give positive feeback. When you pay attention to her, she smiles, and tries to make you smile right back. She’ll interact by grinning and pointing and making small talk (mimi! doh! beebeebee!) and she’ll let you know when she likes something. She doesn’t hide her appreciation of kindness, beauty or surprises.
5. Get excited about the little things. She gets excited about oatmeal and graham crackers and milk. And especially garden tomato flavored puffs. She gets a thrill when we’re driving with the windows down, the wind blowing her hair. She gets so excited, in fact, that she does a little sideways dance, from her hips to her head and shrieks with joy as her hair swirls around her face.
6. Play. Observe. Manipulate. Test. Bang. Taste. Turn over. And over. Squeeze. She does things that make her happy and keep her busy. A one year old never says, “I’m bored”.
7. Touch. Hug. Trust. She lets you know she loves you with kisses and pats and long looks. She squeezes and sighs with contentment and leans in close, to snuggle. You don’t have to be able to say “I love you” to be able to show it.
8. Push away. She lets you know when she’s had enough. Too much contact, too much noise, too many people. She can say “no more” and not feel badly about it because she knows it’s what she needs.
9. Maintain healthy habits. She eats when she’s hungry and stops when she’s full, even if there are “only a few spoonfuls left”. Even with the tomato flavored puffs! She runs around (and around, and around and around…) when she needs to expend some energy and lounges back in her chair, with her left foot propped up on the arm, when she needs to recoup. She does downward dog and child’s pose and savasana without knowing that those are yoga poses that
her mama some people pay big bucks to practice at a studio.
10. Work hard. Being a baby is hard work. She knows she isn’t going to be able to grab that toy or chew on that corner of the couch or reach something breakable high on a shelf without some effort. Some training. If you’ve been around babies recently, you’ve heard them grunting while at play. That’s the sound of struggle. It takes resolution and pushing oneself to learn to roll over, to climb stairs, to maintain balance. She works and works and works and we can all see her efforts being paid off while simultaneously learning what else in the house needs to be baby-proofed.
What life lessons have your little ones reminded you to focus on?