The wisdom of children
Children don’t love you and then take it back if you did something they don’t like.They simply love.
Last week, my son had a play-date with his friend. For a full hour, the two toddlers played and fought, snatched toys and cried bucket loads of tears, argued over bigger and smaller cars, and who's slice of cake was larger. At the end of the hour, we wearily put our chai and samosas away and got ready to go.
“Give him a hug and say thank you for having us over” I nudged my son.
“As if!” my friend laughed.
The toddlers stepped towards each other, planted big sloppy kisses on each other’s cheeks, waved a merry goodbye and were off.
This got me to thinking about just how much we can learn from our own children. When do we go from being people who love each other at the end of the day no matter what, to people who can cease to talk for weeks when we are upset over a he-said-she said situation?
There is so much we can learn from children. They forget if their friend pushed their way past them onto the swing. They don’t care if their friend wore the same shirt three times in a row, or that they have second-hand furniture. What happens to this person 15 years down the line? Why do we become people that judge everyone by the size of their houses and the credit limit on their credit cards?
Children are brilliant. Their determination, their excitement, their unsullied take on the world and their optimism can teach us so much. Here are some of my favourite lessons learned from my kids:
Curiosity didn’t kill the cat
As adults, we are always looking for something better. We flick through TV channels, hoping to find something more interesting. Nothing can really hold our attention for longer than half an hour. But give a kid a box of blocks, an empty biscuit tin, a bouncy ball, and he can be engrossed for hours. Everything they see has to be touched, smelt, pulled, explored, and asked about. Where does the water in the tap come from? Why do some trees have red apples and some green? Where is the music coming out of? What’s inside the balloon? Why did the ladybird fly away?
Whatever happened to us adults? Why do we not stop to smell the flowers or find the beauty in small things – the flower that pushed its way out of a concrete wall, the wonder of architecture, how a GPS works, the brush strokes in a painting, the tenacity of a ladybird making its way up a ribbed leaf. How many times have we used the term “jaw dropping?” Has your jaw ever dropped? Watch a three-year-old child. Their jaw will drop – really drop – when they press a button and music blares out, when they see two ducks race towards a piece of bread, when they see the cheese bubbling on a pizza inside an oven. That’s called enjoying life.
Dil mangay– nothing
We buy a flat, we want a house. We buy a car, we yearn for an SUV. A child asks, cries, screams for a new toy in a supermarket, but a few minutes later forgets about it and is content with an old toy you pull out of your purse.
Be happy with what you have. There are many things we would like to have, but it doesn’t mean we necessarily need them. We are constantly looking inside our cupboards, around our homes, at our workplaces, trying to find something better. In our dissatisfaction with life, we forget to enjoy what we actually have.
Do it my way
Children are stubborn and argumentative, and it can be exhausting. Ask them to cross the room, and they will do it their way: climb on top of the sofa, crawl under the chair, tiptoe around the carpet, and slide across the floor to your feet. This is one of their attributes. As adults, we don’t take risks. We do things a certain way because that’s the way it is done and we don’t question. We forget there is more than one way of doing something.
We also have fixed notions of ourselves. We know what we “can” and what we “can’t” do. Who told us that? If someone asks if you can sing, you would probably answer no. But ask a child anything out of a hat and he or she will probably answer yes, and boldly try to do it.
A child’s love is famed. They will hold your hand for no reason at all. They will bring their toys in whichever room you are in, simply to enjoy your presence. They don’t love with expectations of getting something in return. They don’t love you and then take it back if you do something they don’t like. They simply love. And that is the biggest gift of all.