Kids don’t intend to teach you but they do. It’s a strange phenomenon because you start out having kids, thinking that you have that big job of imparting knowledge, social skills and values to them but as time passes, you come to the realisation that they are teaching you and probably at some stage, more than you are teaching them. The ironic thing however, is that you really need to be open to the idea that your kids can teach you anything before anything sinks in.
Learning from kids can be a real eye – opener because you will realise that so many of the things they teach you are simple things. They are things that you were familiar with and probably practising in your life years ago, but which over time, were slowly replaced by other practices. So it serves as a timely and invaluable reminder in both our professional and personal lives.
1. Live in the moment.
How many of us live in the moment? Not many, I would hazard a guess. Guilty myself. We are either obsessed with the future or dwelling on our past, leaving very little time, focus or, can I say this, enjoyment of the present. Kids have a knack of living in the here and now. Sometimes, we find it infuriating when they are so completely absorbed in whatever activity they are doing that they don’t hear you but what a beautiful experience it is to live in the moment. When you do, worries slip away. You are so completely engaged in whatever activity you are in. You are focused, you are committed and you are enjoying it. We could all use a little more living in the present.
2. Call a spade a spade.
Yes, once again, infuriating or embarrassing as it can be, kids call a spade a spade. It is simply a statement of fact, nothing more, nothing less. And as we grow up, we learn other ways of calling things, of hiding, of embellishing, of labelling. We construct elaborate schemes to avoid saying what needs to be said, because the other person should not or cannot hear it, because we don’t have the guts to say it or because it’s too hard. Yet, a little dose of reality is something we can all use in our lives.
3. Forget and get on with it.
It is not that kids don’t go through hardship or pain. They encounter pain, suffering, anxiety and heartache in their daily lives. Yet, they possess such resilience and have that unwavering capacity to let bygones be and just get on with it. And that is a real skill – something they possess innately but which over time, we as adults, have lost. Pain and suffering are part and parcel of the human experience. Our ability to live with pain, to overcome and allow ourselves to be forged anew is key to us transcending our limited selves and renewing.
4. I am merely a reflection of you.
Kids are the greatest imitators, picking up our idiosyncrasies, our faults and our manners, whether we like it or not. How very odd indeed, to one day, find ourselves looking at our own reflection, as mirrored by our kids, and realising that you may not like what you see? That they have picked up some ideas from us, that we didn’t intend but which we have failed to realise was there all along?
This I find is the greatest gift of all – kids present you with the opportunity to see yourself unmasked.
5. Such capacity for wonder, interest and excitement.
Discovery, excitement, wonder at the little things – they don’t cease when you reach adulthood. Yet, why is it that our capacity for wonder seems to decrease with age, to be replaced with cynicism, bitter defeat, a sense of know-it-all and reality? An innate desire to learn and discover, to express wonder at the things around, to be interested and keen to do and know more – these should stay with us as we grow old, fuelling our capacity for growth and boosting our ability and skills in whatever we touch.