Blossoming into spring – Reflections on what children have taught me
By: Christine Soussa
Happy First Day of Spring?! WOW already?!
One afternoon, in our backyard, as we played to the sounds of the chirping birds, I noticed with some level of amazement that the flowers were blooming, the bulbs blossoming, the trees getting their spring foliage…and it hit me…WOW it’s Spring already?! Yes, I changed the clock for Spring Forward but I couldn’t understand HOW we had already leaped forward into spring? I was still recovering from New Year’s! In fact, the huge sequin “Happy New Year’s” that was still sitting on the bookshelf. I took three deep breaths for pause then opened my eyes…yup, it was spring alright, our children are growing…and fast…too fast for this Mama.
In this moment of self-reflection, I decided to take a step back. The typical dogma is that adults teach children. However, in that moment I was grateful for the many lessons my children teach me. The learning, growth, self-realization and development that children teach adults, is impressive and noteworthy. In past posts we asked members, “What does it means to be an Armenian Mom?” and “What does being an International Woman mean to you?” As an Armenian women’s organization, we all influence children, whether our own children, students at school, friends’ children, nieces or nephews…. Today, on the first day of spring, I encourage each of you to share something a child has taught you that we can all benefit from. Here are some of my personal favorite lessons that children have taught me and I am delighted to share these reflections on this beautiful spring day.
- Ask Why ~ Because of the curious mind, we learn a lot. Be curious, wonder. Ask why and seek the answer, ask “why not?” and seek the answer. As adults we sometimes confuse curiosity with judgment. Our children have taught me that when we approach life and situations with curiosity, the capacity for love and learning is elevated, making the experience more meaningful and memorable.
- Try three times, then ask for help ~ Some time ago, I observed the child of a family member tell me “I can’t!” at that time I wasn’t a parent but instinctively told the child, “I can’t isn’t a very good word, why don’t you try three times then ask for help?” This teaches divergent thinking skills versus convergent thinking skills. Seeing the child do what she said she couldn’t do and seeing the joy on her face was awesome. Thus, this principle is something we have taught our children and try to encourage all children and adults to do the same because it helps encourage self-confidence and collaboration.
- Go Boldly ~ Our 1-year-old recently started walking. While the destination is unknown, the confidence is there. Taking purposeful steps, with confidence, smiles, and conviction, often makes all the difference. The reality is that just like a toddler, none of us know the real destination in our life, so why not embrace the journey with bold confidence? Sometimes the drive to KEEP GOING is most important.
- Kisses and hugs make everything better ~ Boo-boos, scraped knees, hurt feelings, you name it. When you’re hurt, regardless of the circumstances, a hug and a kiss really do make you feel better. Sometimes you just need love and validation of your feelings. Not solutions.
- Let it Go! ~ For moms of young children, this probably means you will now have the Frozen soundtrack stuck in your head. But the core message holds true. Toddlers can go from meltdown tantrums to sheer bliss in a matter of minutes. This is an important lesson for adults, too. The idea is learn the lesson and shake it off. Implement yesterday’s lesson today and be joyful for tomorrow.
- Sing, Dance, and Laugh out Loud ~ Life is short, have fun! It’s okay to give yourself the freedom to be silly. When we do these things with joyful gusto out loud, we physiologically change. It’s good pure fun. So go ahead, laugh, dance, and sing loudly….
- Be Authentic ~ Children say what’s on their minds. Sometimes it’s embarrassing but it almost always comes from a place of love and curiosity that’s refreshing and interesting. This inspires integrity, confidence, and helps formulate a powerful relationship with oneself and others.
- Don’t Judge ~ Children do not understand “judgment” or “stereotypes.” They play and make friends easily. Ultimately, we are all doing the best we can and nothing awesome comes from judgment. Play with an open heart, not a judging one. This is an area where adults can learn from children; we can continue to make new friends, meet interesting people, and grow as a result of these encounters with people who are different if we are present with an open heart.
- Slow Down ~ Let’s face it, the pace of this life is fast; time doesn’t come back nor does it slow down. So, whenever possible, slow it down. Enjoy the outdoors. When taking walks, stop and take notice of the flowers, look for animals in the clouds, take in the beauty of an acorn or a weed, and dance to the sounds of nature (maybe it’s rain, or a creek, chirping birds, racing squirrels, etc.). There is beauty all around. So, slow down and take the time to really notice and enjoy it.
- Reflect ~ Each night we review the day, what we did, who we saw, what we enjoyed, what we learned. This time of reflection is good bonding and a form of meditation.
- Celebrate “non-birthdays” ~ What started as a way to get our children to finish their dinner quickly turned into a family tradition. After dinner we share a post dinner treat with a candle. Instead of singing Happy Birthday, we sing to rejoice and acknowledge a blessing of the day – then blow out the candles.
- Play time ~ The world is your playground. Choose to make your life a fun journey.
- Take Deep Breaths ~ Challenges are all around. Giving yourself the space to take a few deep breaths before taking action. I used to take only one, but recently I was taught by a dear friend, the power of three cleansing breaths. These few seconds really can make all the difference, so you can reset and respond, instead of react.
- The T’s ~ Teach, transition, and trust. There is so much literature, blogs, opinions with “how-to” recommendations on training children…sleep train, potty train, diet train, etc. I always had a difficult time training children and couldn’t execute the recommendations. For example: What if we took away the pacifier before the child was ready? In fact, each household’s decisions are personal and everyone does what is right for them. I realized that our children taught me the importance of teaching and transitioning, over training–and trusting that it would be okay. Thus, when it was the right time for our first born, we transitioned out of diapers. This lesson has been valuable in interactions beyond parenting including in the workplace and in personal relations.
- Keep it simple ~ I’m an over-doer, over-thinker, and over-analyzer. As a Mommy of two, under age five, I continue to learn (often multiple times a day!) that things don’t have to be that complicated.
As we blossom into spring, I wish each of you joy, color and love. May you and yours continue to bloom with blessings and beauty! Happy First Day of Spring!