Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Top Ten Lessons I have Learned from my Kiddos

 I have been a proud father for 3 years now. Doesn’t seem like that long but in dad years it is. And in those 3 years I have learned many many things from my children. These are the top 10.

10) Cranky = Powerful … I know what you are thinking: “No cranky equals ANNOYING!”. Yes this is a true statement, but being the most easily determined observation, it blinds us to the secret power that lies behind the tears and screaming, and lurks under the time out chair like a snake waiting in tall grass. Under times of extreme stress, most parents have found themselves doing whatever it takes to calm their children down. And yes, even the best parents in the world can say they have given in before and met every demand until peace had filled the dwelling place, or eating establishment, or airport, or wherever the tantrum takes place. This gives the child ultimate control (and for the effort put forth) the power they feel when it is all over. 

9) Cuteness = Even more Power … Part 2 to the aboved mentioned power comes the power of being just too darn cute for their britches. After most heated battles in our house between parent and child (most the time my 3yo) comes acts of cuteness, and kidness, and I’m talking sugar, spice, all things rice. It gets laid on us like a 100 pound sack of wet rice, and both my wife and I tend to become putty. It’s the power to bring your shields completely down as well as gain their much wanted love, affection, and for the most part, attention. The wide puppy dog eyes, the slow walk over to you, the bear hug, and the soft “sugie” are weapons of mass destruction on your defensive front for control of the house.

8) They meant it! … Long before their language skills are developed enough to ramble on for hours about their favorite toy, children communicate through babble and gibberish and when it seems like they are letting you have it, they probably are!!! Okay, maybe not fussing at you, but when they look serious about what they are trying to communicate, they know exactly what they are saying and they mean it! 

7) Anything you can do I can do too! … Children develop very quick and in no time you find yourself with a “mini-you” following your every footstep, hanging onto every word you say, and closely studying your every move. And ultimately this means everything you do and say, your children will do their best to do and say as well. Everything from “Uh-oh” and “Pee-Pie” to The electric bill is HOW MUCH?!?!’ your children will try desperately to repeat. Not only an excellent way to try to learn and use new language skills, but to try to be just like the people they love and depend on the most. Everything from the way you dance, to shaving, to your body language when you talk, they will try their best to do. Any body language you display quickly becomes a part of their communications (and occasionally becomes a dance skill to them). Then of course is what they consider “cool adult stuff”. No, not that. Talking about washing dishes, talking on the phone, using the hair dryer. These are fascinating actions to go through for them and it is none the cooler to be able to perfectly imitate them to you for your approval.

6) No matter what your friends, your boss, or your parents tell you, you can be anything or anybody you want to be … Playing ball, playing Spiderman, playing house, playing school. These are just a small sampling of answers you could get to the question “what are you doing?” A child’s imagination is wild and ,sometimes, flat out entertaining and hilarious. They have the ability to be whoever they want and do whatever they want, at just about any time that they want to. It is fascinating to watch all the different people they can be and places they can go without ever leaving the living room. If they want to be the soccer monster, then they are the soccer monster. If they say the stuffed elephant is a dinosaur, then it is. When Caleb walks out of the room and says he’s going to the house, then that’s where he is going. In the land of the imagination, everything is possible. You can be anything, anybody, anywhere, any time you want.

5) Bedtime does not always mean peace and quiet, relaxation time, or alone time … Ah, the night sky has risen, the crickets are chirping and the kiddos are tucked away in bed for the *whining on the baby monitor* … I’ll be right back … Okay where was I? Oh yes, *whining on the monitor again* … Excuse me. “Caleb lay down and go to sleep you don’t need any water.” ….. As I was saying, the kiddos are tucked in bed and I’m now praying with all my might they will sleep now till sunrise. The downside to bedtime with children, and adults for that matter, is that you never know when a tummy ache, nightmare, or a good ole sleep walking incident will interrupt what could easily be the best part of any young parent’s day. Night time is the time you look forward to the most when there can be silence and peacefullness. But we all have those nights where it just seems that it’s written in stone that you will look like a raccoon with bags under your eyes the next day. 

4) You are a hero no matter how much you feel you have failed … All of us parents go through times where we feel like we have ultimately failed our children. When they get hurt, when they are angry at us, or when things just don’t seem to be going right at all in life. But no matter what is going on in your life, you are always a hero to your children. You are superhuman to them. Our children depend on us for their well being as well as their emotional stability. When they get a boo boo and you kiss it better, you are their hero. When they are sad and you can find a way to make them laugh, you are their hero. Even when all you have done is something they consider extraordinary and super cool, you are their hero. No matter what life is throwing at you and how difficult it is to handle, you are still a hero to them. And with that, you can have a little peace of mind even in the toughest of situations just knowing that someone in this world still thinks you are a hero.

3) Actions speak louder than words … Everything from the discipline of our children, to arguments with our spouses, to cheering for our children at their soccer games, actions we display speak to them a lot louder than our words. Just as much as they are watching and trying to imitate everything we do, children are also trying to learn when to use certain actions and words. And most the time, the actions are more easily used than the language skills. They will learn about flailing their arms, hitting things, the action of putting your finger to your nose in an attempt to silence them. What to do in stressful situations, or happy occasions, or in times of sadness, are all things our children will learn from us before learning anywhere else. ALL of our actions are observed and repeated. And this should call us to be vigilant and choose carefully our actions for they will affect evn the littlest of people, the kiddos.

2) Faith like a Child … Kids will believe just about anything you tell them. “Daddy, I wanna watch football birds”. “Sorry son, football birds is broken. Why don’t we watch Blues Clues?” … “ALRIGHT!!!” See how easy it was to change the programming choice? The same rings true with almost anything you tell a child. Children have a blind faith that the Vatican only wish it had. Children cannot see around little lies and truth bending we do to avoid certain situations. They have blindness to real world events and hardcore adult feelings. If you tell them you are okay, then you are. If you tell them you are sad, then you are. Even in play time, you tell them you are a dragon that’s going to “skit” them, then you are a big fire breathing dragon. A child trusts their parents and cloase relatives and friends because they do not no anything different. All the way from first time spending the night away from home to the first night spent in their college dorm, our children trust our judgement and our words withh 100% blind faith, a faith we seem to lose when we grow up and become aware of a lot more. But it’s a faith that is not to be taken for granted, to be inspired by, and to remain in awe of.

And the most important lesson I have learned from my children: To love without boundaries, is to love without hesitation, without question, and with an open heart. All parents love their children with a love like none other. Stronger even than the love you have for a spouse, or family member, or family pet. And the love children have for their parents is without a doubt a love that can never be explained, never be reciprocated, and always make you feel better than a triple stacked ice cream cone on a hot southern afternoon. A child’s love is as blind as the faith that allows this love to exist. It’s a love that says you will never know how much you mean to me and how much I appreciate you in my life. A love that reminds us all, that in the face of uncertainty, and in a world that seems to crumble away day by day, there is a reason for hope, and a reason to look towards the future with blind ambition. 

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