My 3 1/2 year old son, my oldest, is proving to be one of the best teachers I have ever had. Sometimes I think that his little testosterone filled body is determined on making me crazy. It can feel like I have my own hurricane living in my house, demanding my attention at every turn. His temperament is strong, he is super extroverted (like goes up to strange men with beards similar to my husband and begs to be picked up), and notices EVERYTHING. If I am frustrated, he will come up to me, put his hand on my face and say, “Mommy, what happened?” I wanted to share 3 things that I am learning from him each day.
I am learning to be more observant. Literally, NOTHING gets past him. If I snap, or drop something, or make a mistake, he notices right away. And then he wants to help. “Mommy, what happened” is one of the most common phrases that I hear from him daily. If I burn the toast, or spill my water, or lost my keys, I hear a faint voice, “Mommy, what happened?” I tell him, “I can’t find my keys”, his response, “OLLIE HELP!” and off he goes to look for my keys. I mean, I don’t even ask for help, and he is there helping.
He also notices things out in the world that I would never notice, or just gloss over. We were driving on the freeway recently and he exclaimed, “GECKO!” At first I was confused, because his current obsession is PJ Masks and there is a character named Gecko on the show. But we weren’t watching the show, and don’t have anything with that character ON it in the car, so I had no idea what he was talking about. I tried guessing what he was talking about, but he just kept pointing and shouting “GECKO” every few miles. Then I actually stopped to look at what he was pointing at. We live in Arizona, and the walls on each side of the freeway are often decorated with desert specific decorations stamped on the large concrete walls. Cacti, snakes, and (you guessed it) geckos! I had never noticed them before! And I drove that freeway to my doctors office for almost 4 years! I NEVER SAW THE GECKOS! Just goes to show, our kids can show us how to stop and NOTICE the life around us and not just gloss over it without a second thought.
He is also teaching me that reconciling is very important for peace. I already knew that reconciling with family and friends, and God, was super important. However, if there was a long span of time between some conflict, and actually reconciling with someone, I usually don’t mind. I justify it so many ways, and ignore that nagging feeling inside me that says, “this person needs you to forgive them” or “You need to ask for forgiveness”. Our son’s mentality about making things right is amazing. Case and point: the other night he was very grumpy and acting up before bed. Normally we give him blessings before bed, but he refused even that in the midst of his tantrum. I simply took him to his bed, tucked him in, wished him a good night and left. He came out 2 minutes later, crying and totally beside himself saying, “Mommy, I’m sorry! Daddy I’m sorry!” He couldn’t sleep knowing that we were not at peace. He got his blessings, and went to bed peacefully after that.
I know that sometimes we HAVE to go to bed angry. Maybe the situation needs some time to cool down, or maybe logistically, a conflict has to wait until the morning. However, if we can avoid it, ideally we would not go to bed angry. I am learning that conflict, when handled properly, and sometimes humbly, will bring forth a peace that makes it easy to love those who we have hurt, or who have hurt us.
The third thing my son is teaching me is how to be persistent. Our son is currently in speech therapy, for some delays in speech, and his persistence in conveying his needs or thoughts is amazing. Sometimes I can decipher what he is saying, because I am with him all the time so I know his “language” but also because we have been in speech for almost 7 months and some amazing progress as been made. However, there are times that I have NO IDEA what he is saying. He will say something to me, confidently and (to him) clear as day and I have to ask for clarification over and over. He will not only try to clarify, but he does so by speaking slower, louder, and gesturing. If I still don’t understand he will say, “Come with me” and them SHOW me what he is talking about. He does not give up until I understand.
How often do I allow misunderstandings to go unaddressed because it takes work, and often changing my APPROACH to communication to convey what I am thinking?! I sometimes get frustrated or angry when someone does not understand what I am trying to say, but not my little toddler. He will try to get his message across by any means necessary. He would make a great Priest.
There you have it! Just a few things that my son is teaching me DAILY. I always thought I would be my son’s greatest teacher, and to some extent, there is truth to that, but he is proving to by MY greatest teacher. His observations, diligence in seeking peace, and persistence is making me a better person, a better Catholic, and a better mother.
What are some things your child has taught you? What lessons were hard? What lessons were easy? Share with us!!