As kids, we thought the adults had life figured out. I mean, why else would they tell us what to do all the time, constantly trying to teach us “life lessons?” And as we age, mature and learn more, we soon realize that there is so much more in the world that we still don’t know. And, to make matters worse, we’ve forgotten one of the most important life lessons: what it means to be a kid.
Enter my kindergartner, Lyla.
She’s a blonde curly mass of magic and unicorn farts and love and high-strung emotions. She’s brilliant always, kind when she wants to be, fierce when she’s crossed and absolutely solid in who she is.
This kid gives zero cares if she misses a word on her spelling test or her letters aren’t in the lines, she knows what she’s doing and no one’s gonna tell her different. She’s the only one who knows how to make her two-yea- old brother happy when he’s down. She loves digging for worms and covering the house with glitter. And even though she vexes and tests me on a daily basis, I kind of what to be like her when I grow up.
Whenever I take the time to stop and watch her, I see so many life lessons in place—but not for her. For me.
Watching my resilient girl as she recovers from this season’s flu, it occurred to me that there are so many life lessons we as parents can learn from our kids, if only we listen.
1. Dress for yourself and not anyone else.
Most adults, when they’re sick, want nothing more than to walk around in their dirtiest, most comfortable sweats or pajamas until they feel better. Not this kid. It doesn’t matter that we’re staying home all day until she gets better, she’s gonna wear her dark wash skinny jeans and sequined shirt while she dances around with her 101.3 degree fever.
She’s not wearing those clothes for anyone else. She is wearing them because SHE feels fancy in her sequined shirt and jeans.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about what she’s wearing or looks like, this kid dresses and styles herself for HER, not the people or the occasion. I think that’s a life lesson we all could use.
2. Dance crazy, especially when everyone is watching.
Have you ever heard that inspirational quote, “Dance like no one is watching?” My baby girl doesn’t dance “like no one is watching”—she wants EVERYONE to watch. The more eyes on her, the more she spins and twirls and wiggles her arms in mysterious and dramatic ways. She knows she’s fabulous, even if she doesn’t know how to dance. And she’s going to show the room just how fabulous she is.
Wouldn’t it be great if we all could walk into a room with an attitude that said, “Mom, watch this!” Consider how much more confident, how much more successful would we be if we laid it all out for the room, with absolute confidence that yes, you ARE fabulous, even if you don’t know what you are doing.
3. It’s okay to yell and scream when you’re mad.
When did we as a society become so afraid of feelings? When did expressing yourself become a bad thing? Lyla is the master of letting the world know when she’s been wronged—and she’s not afraid to say something about it. In general, we as adults tend to let our feelings sit and fester. They affect how we see our day-to-day life, the people we care about and our daily interactions. Isn’t it better—and healthier—to just get it OUT when we are frustrated, and more importantly, to just simply move on?
4. Cereal is a perfectly acceptable dinner.
When I first met my husband, cereal was a breakfast food. Breakfast. Not snack, brunch, lunch—and certainly not dinner. But darn if my kid’s favorite night-time meal isn’t a cold bowl of cereal. And honestly…it’s becoming mine.
Who wants to mess with hot dinner, dishes, etc., on top of all that homework and chores and soccer craziness? Not me. And not my girl. That small step you take when your kid asks for cereal for dinner is a step towards being a more relaxed mom. I’ve realized that if cereal is an acceptable enough option for the “most important meal of the day”, then why in the world can’t we end the day with a nice bowl of cereal once in a while?
It makes you step back and realize that so many things we stress about in life—like a large, wholesome, hot dinner every night—aren’t that important. Sometimes letting the little things go gives us more time to focus on the big things, like snuggling together on the couch before bed or taking an extra long bath.
Our kids can sometimes stretch us to our breaking point. But the beautiful thing about parenting is that it also brings us back to our center. When we take a step back to study our children- I mean really watch them—an entire world of innocence, confidence and joy opens up to us.
Maybe instead of trying to force our children to be more like us, we should focus on taking the time to appreciate some life lessons from our kids.