As you may have guessed from some of my blog posts, I am the proud mom of a toddler who turned two today. So first, I must thank my son for teaching me so much about myself, life, and faith. He spurred this post today, this message of encouragement. You know how you wake up, blink, lift up your head, look at the clock and sigh before burrowing back under the covers? You know, because that’s really going to keep the clock from moving forward. Well, this is where my son’s lesson begins.
This morning, he woke up chatting, giggling. He peeked out his window and squealed – it was snowing. I walked in to wish him a happy birthday and gather him from his crib as he blew me a kiss with a smile plastered across his face. It was morning, and he was thrilled. Why? I’m not sure. But all the same – he was happy.
We got him dressed for the day and he smiled and laughed, chattering about something that only a toddler could decipher. I then put him on the floor and he took off running, squealing when the cat came out to greet him. “NINA,” he announced and gave her a kiss and a hug. He was beyond thrilled to see her. And then we sat on the couch together, snuggling for a moment while I check the zoo times and pricing.
What is the lesson from this? Wake up happy…no matter what! Even if you aren’t a morning person (as myself) – be HAPPY. Put a smile on your face and breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. It’s a new day, a new beginning. It’s a new chance to make a difference in your life, your family’s lives, and someone else’s life.
Seeing as the zoo didn’t open until 10, we had two hours to get ready, eat breakfast and continue being happy. He danced and pranced, chasing the cat and the cat chasing him. He gave me a hug and kiss, professed his love to me and took off again. I made him breakfast. Pancakes, actually. Why did I make pancakes for a two year old and myself? Because I can. I have the privilege to fix him an elaborate breakfast and enjoy it with him. After breakfast, I cleaned him up (you know, because toddler + syrup = …yeah.) and went to finish getting ready. I put on a touch of make up and chatted with my son the entire time. I looked down at him after her exclaimed “MOM. MOMMOM!” Oh my goodness child, yes? He pointed at me, squeezed me and whispered “Pretty!” Thank you, baby. “Mommom?” Yes, Colton? “Mommom pretty.”
And the lesson from this tiny little conversation? Take pride in yourself. Your child notices when you do! Don’t get me wrong, I’m no super model. Nor will I ever claim to be. However, I have found that the more I respect myself and my appearance (make up or not), my child will touch my face, my hair…and say pretty. Who doesn’t want their child to think they are beautiful? On those days when I just don’t want to…I look at him and smile. Because to him to makes a difference. To him, it means something.
When we got to the zoo, it was empty. We saw a total of three other visitors the entire two hours we were there. And for a child’s first trip to the zoo, it was fantastic! He didn’t have to wait to see the animals, to learn about them…he was able to go at his own pace. When we got to the tiger exhibit, the tiger was ready for lunch. The large feline barreled toward the glass wall and Colton hunkered down and reached for him. “NINA!” I watched as the tiger veered at the last moment and Colton took off down the glass wall after him. (Nina is the name of our cat, by the way. All cats are Nina cats right now.) The tiger turned and “chased” him back down the glass wall and Colton turned, giggling wildly and darted. They were playing.
This child, who has never seen a tiger before – has never heard the horror stories of big, carnivorous creatures attacking humans – was playing with one.
Lesson? Don’t pre-judge. Don’t guess the ending of the story! Don’t look at someone and think sour thoughts of them without knowing the story. Did you get cut off today on the interstate? Maybe his wife was in labor across town. Did you get tail gated? Maybe her husband just left her. Did you open a door to walk through and someone else charged through instead? Maybe his son was just diagnosed with a life changing illness. You honest to goodness don’t know. So have faith in the person. Offer them a smile, a prayer…something of kindness.
.have a sense of wonder.
We stood in the middle of the Dolphin Dome at the zoo in silence, listening to the clicks and whistles from the swimming beings. Every now and again, Colton would whisper a “wow…” as he watched them. At one point he stood still and closed his eyes, lost in the sounds of the dolphins. Keep in mind, he is two. And he stopped. He took his hat off, dropped it to his feet and stood in silence…listening. He would peek out and smile as one of the smiling faces would drift by. “Wow…mommom…”
Don’t ever lose your sense of wonder. Close your eyes, sit back, and listen. Just stop. Turn off the multitude of thoughts pounding through your mind ever second of every day. When a thought drifts by, consciously shut it down. Just be. Open your eyes slowly – looking for something new, something different. Even if it is something you have seen a million times, look at it differently. Have a moment of “wow”.
We are a family of faith. But I’m not talking about religion at the moment. I’m talking about faith in your self, in another human, in human kind as a whole. My son taught me this today in a very simple maneuver. We ran into the other family briefly in the Oceans exhibits. He trotted up to the mom and gave her a hug and a smile. She smiled back and said hello. He took her hand and led her to the aquarium of brightly colored reef fish and said “Look!” She looked and he pulled her closer. “Wow…” he whispered as a unicorn fish looked him in the face. She smiled and tried to free her hand. He pulled her closer and pointed. “Look!” She acknowledged the fish and got her hand free, giving me a face. He then turned around and gave her a hug and said “Thank you.” She looked shocked, ashamed even. He had just wanted to show her the fish…to get her to look. She knelt down and patted him on the head and very quietly said “You’re welcome. And thank you.” He smiled and ran back to my side. Mission accomplished.
Have faith in your neighbor, in yourself. My son was bound and determined to get her to see, not look…but actually see. And when she saw, he thanked her. It was a simple request, and he had faith that she wouldn’t hurt him and would look, see. And when she did…he thanked her. He had faith in her and in his mission. Do you?
I don’t write this because I know all. I write this because I learned these things today…from a two year old. A two year old who hasn’t been spoiled by the world and turned into a hateful, judgmental person. He sees the good in everyone and everything.
I write this with the hopes that you, too, might take something from it.