Saturday, May 26, 2012

My Tiny Teacher

Reese turns two this weekend, and it's amazing to think about all the changes her life has been through since last year. Last May she took her first steps and her vocabulary was limited to just three words. Now she is running, climbing, and talking in full sentences. It has been quite a journey watching her explore the ever-changing world around her as she learns more and more each day. But what's even more incredible is everything she has taught me this year. I never expected to learn so much from such a tiny teacher who is completely unaware of the many life lessons she teaches her mom every day. In honor of Reese’s second birthday, here are some of my favorite life lessons through a toddler’s eyes: 

1. Control your energy. I'm talking about the invisible, emotional energy that surrounds the space around us. If I am aggravated or over-scheduled, it changes the air in my home. I have noticed that Reese is crabby when I'm crabby, tense when I'm tense, and relaxed when I'm relaxed. She has shown me how much my attitude affects the space and the people around me. Being more conscious of my energy helps me stay focused on the positive and makes for a happier mom and a happier home.

2. Be who you are. I love how toddlers are so incredibly carefree. Reese doesn’t care about being judged by others, nor does she have the ability to judge. In Reese’s world, everyone is completely free to be themselves. Her carefree nature reminds me to be less concerned about society’s standards and expectations, especially because I want to keep that ability alive in her for as long as possible.

3. Resilience is key. I’m amazed at how easily Reese can bounce back from negative emotions and physical pain. Whether she’s upset over a bump on the head or mad at me for derailing her plans to color on the wall, the devastation always ends as quickly as it begins. She gets some comfort from mommy and moves on to a new task. Suddenly the original problem is completely forgotten, and she leaves me with yet another example of what it means to “just get over it.”  

4. Sometimes you just need to have a tantrum. Adults have tantrums too. We just have a different way of channeling them. I’ve learned that as long as we develop appropriate ways to handle an occasional flood of emotion, there’s no reason to feel guilty about our tantrums. If Reese needs to flail on the floor for a minute after being told that we’re not watching another episode of Mickey Mouse, I can’t exactly say I don’t understand. I often have that same urge when I get off the phone with Verizon’s customer service line.  

5. Life is fascinating. Sometimes I wonder how long it has been since I sat in complete awe of nature’s beauty. Somewhere along the way I became desensitized to my surroundings and consumed by my routine and I forgot how marvelous the world really is. Reese’s excitement over simple things in nature – a squirrel in the yard, a purple flower, a really tall tree – reminds me there are so many reasons to look at the world and say, “Wow!” 

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