My daughter just turned four. The night before her birthday, I was doing what all parents do; going through my phone and looking at all the cute photos of her from the last four years. Sniffling at her baby pictures and marveling at how much she has grown. I started to think about what a great kid she has turned into and how proud I am of her. Then I got to thinking about all the things she has taught me along the way. Things that as grown ups we need to focus on more that come so naturally to children.
Compassion: When a friend gets hurt, my daughter is the first to appear at their side to see if they need anything. Kids tend to be compassionate and sympathetic without being coerced to be. Every time I see my daughter show compassion to someone, it makes my momma heart so happy. Compassion is something that as adults we need to remember to show to not only our close friends and family, but to everyone. In this day and age, it is easy to turn a blind eye to suffering, if it is not someone we know personally. So next time I’m at the grocery store, maybe I can donate a bag of groceries to a family in need. Or smile at the mom in front of me in line that is clearly having a bad day. A little compassion goes a long way.
Bravery: My daughter is fearless. She is always open to trying new experiences. Often, you’ll find her flying off the couch with little-to-no worry of breaking an arm while this momma grimaces seeing visions of casts and ER bills in our future. As much as it makes me nervous, I could definitely learn something from her bravery. I have always been a cautious person and not one to take risks. Looking back, it has probably kept me from experiencing some amazing things. I need to take a cue from my four-year-old and be brave by saying yes to more experiences that come my way. Kids are so good at living in the moment and as an adult who is constantly contemplating the “what ifs” it’s hard to always take risks. Next time an opportunity comes a knocking, I am going to throw out my pro/con list and just go for it like my daughter would. The worst that can happen is that I learn from a mistake and teach my girl that making mistakes is okay, it’s how we learn from the mistakes that matters.
Kindness: Kindness is something that comes so easy to my girl. She thinks about her friend’s feelings and invites them to play if she notices they aren’t playing with anyone. She is constantly thinking about how she can serve others by making them cards and pictures. If she sees a little girl at Target with a cute dress, she tells her, “I like your dress”. She is so thoughtful. Sometimes I am too focused on getting through the day, that I forget to be kind and thoughtful to those around me. The best thing about kindness is that it only takes a minute, but the effects of a kind word or gesture are lasting.
Love of Learning: I don’t exactly know when it was that I stopped enjoying learning. Probably around the time I started associating knowledge with tests. My daughter on the other hand gets so pumped to go to school and insists on pulling out workbooks at home to practice her writing and math. From a young age my girl chose books about animals off the shelves at the library and memorized facts about them. That love of learning is something that comes from her dad, something I hope she never loses, and something I wish I still had. My goal is to find something I am passionate about to rekindle my love for learning. Not only as a good example for my daughter, but to benefit myself.
Judgement Free: My girl understands that everyone is different and doesn’t let those differences impact her opinions of others. She just believes that everyone is good, and that is the way it should be at the tender age of four (Stranger Danger talk aside of course). She has a mix of friends that are all different and it’s those differences that make them so beautiful. Mom life is full of judgement. Between the breastfeeding/formula feeding debate and whether or not you feed your kiddos all organic food it’s hard not to get caught up in that world. I think it’s important to remember how easily our kids get along despite their differences and learn from them.
It’s amazing to me all the beautiful traits we can acquire from our children if we take the time to look. Learn from your kids and reinforce the innate goodness that comes from your children. Let them watch you be kind and compassionate to others. Be brave and show them the importance of learning so that they grow up to still show those lovely traits.