What my kids taught me (so far)

To talk to strangers

“Hi”, says my darling toddler to the man in a suit when we enter the elevator. And: “Baby caca”. As in ‘My sister just pooped’. And I want to die. Cause we don’t share this kind of private information with strangers. At some point, when I was a child, I learned not to talk to people I don’t know. It’s an important lesson to learn for a child, of course. Nobody wants their child to be kidnapped by a stranger, right? The funny thing is that, as we grow out of the age when we are at risk of being kidnapped (I honestly doubt that someone would kidnap me today), we still don’t talk to strangers. Except maybe for the occasional ‘Hi’ to a person we thought we’d know but then realise it’s just a person we see on the train, on our way to work every day. But maybe we should. Maybe we should say ‘Hi’ to strangers more often. Maybe we should talk to people we don’t know. Maybe it would make their day. Maybe we would learn something new. Maybe. “Hi”, I say now as well when my son says hello to a stranger. “I should probably change his sister’s nappy.” It’s easy. It doesn’t take much effort and makes people smile. And I often find myself chatting with people I would probably never have talked to. Thanks to a toddler. And baby poo.

To stand up when you fall

I am a rather impatient person. I am impatient in front of a traffic light. I am impatient in any kind of queue. But most of all, I am impatient with myself. When I don’t succeed immediately, I doubt. I lose confidence. I wonder if I should go on. If I am made for this. I wonder if I am maybe not good enough. Not intelligent enough. Not talented enough. If I fall, I lay there for a little while. Watching myself. Asking myself too many questions. And then, there’s my son. When he started walking I saw him fall every day. I saw him fall more often then I saw him walk. And still. Every time he fell, he stood up again. And again. And again. Never did he wonder if he was not good enough. Not strong enough. If he was not made for walking. Never did he stop trying. Believing in himself. Until he finally managed to walk.

To concentrate on one thing at a time

I am bad at this. When I play with my kids, I often check the emails on my phone. I go through to-do-lists. Write shopping lists in my head. When I play with my kids, I often do something else to gain time. I am with them but still away. Which is worse than actually being away. Too often, I am guilty. Of not applauding when my son shows me his drawings for the hundreds time. Of not listening to his stories. Of not being with him 100%. I know that, one day, I will regret. When there will be no-one running towards me with drawings anymore. When my kids will shut the door instead of shutting the laptop in front of me. When I will ask for their attention and not the other way around. So, I try. I try to be with them. And only them. I try to do one thing at a time. For now, I am their world. So, they should be mine.

To ask questions

When did I stop asking questions? When did I start feeling too embarrassed to ask? To be curious? To say ‘I don’t know’? Too often am I standing there, talking to someone, when questions pop up in my mind. Too often do I decide to keep them to myself. To keep my mouth shut. Out of fear to embarrass myself. What happened to the two year old me, curious, bombarding people with questions? I see my son learning so many new things every day. He learns because he is not afraid to ask. He asks and I repeat. Three times, four times, maybe ten. He taught me to be curious again. That those who want to learn can never embarrass themselves. That those who ask will grow. If they are two or thirty-two.

That nobody is busy

“Not today, I’m too busy”, I am telling my friends. My parents. My kids. “Not today. I need to finish this first. I need to go to this appointment. I need to write on the blog. I need to clean up the house. Get the shopping done.” I’m too busy. There is always something to do. And then, one morning, my little one wakes up with a cough. She didn’t sleep at night. She seems to be in pain. And then, one morning, I’m not busy anymore. The appointments don’t count. Neither does my blog. Or the house. The shopping can wait. Nobody is really busy. It’s just a question of priorities. When you’re a mum, priorities change. When your kids need you, the whole world will wait.

To sing again

When I was a child, we sang a lot at home. When I was a teenager, music was part of my life. Strangely, when I became an adult (or however you want to call this state I am currently in), I stopped to sing. Strangely, when you’re an adult, there is less music in your life. Less music and more work. More obligations. More worries and doubts. My children taught me to sing again. To sing without thinking of anything else. To sing until it makes you happy. Remember this feeling when you were 14, dancing in front of a mirror, singing out loud the text of your favourite song? This kind of happy. This kind of stupid and ridiculous and happy. There is nothing that makes me happier than to sing with my toddler in the street. In the supermarket. In the metro. To sing and not to care about the rest. About the people around us. About what they think. About if we sing the right words or the right melody.

What my kids taught me is to be light-hearted again. Not always. But from time to time.

To care less about people I don’t know. And more about family and friends.

What my kids taught me is to focus on the important things in life.

To believe in myself. To trust my feelings. Not to go with the flow.

What my kids taught me is that we knew it all when we were two.

That we somehow forgot.

And need to learn it again.

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