Today is my daughter’s 2nd birthday and I brought her on a short coastal walk to Vista Point to see the views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. What I realized during our excursion today is that life is much more interesting from a 2-year-old’s perspective. I see a wall, and she sees someone’s name carved in it. I see the bridge, and she sees the bird flying overhead. I see boats in the water, and she hears the boats.
I look back at pictures of my daughter especially in the past 6 months and find that I have a lot to learn from this little teacher of mine. Maybe if we all start to see life like she does, we would all be a little bit more appreciative, more happy, and more alive.
Here are 10 Little Lessons I’ve Learned From My 2-Year Old:
1) Stop and Smell the Roses (Literally…)
This is something that happens quite frequently, whether we’re taking a walk or she’s sitting in the stroller. Everywhere we go, she notices everything, from the flowers in the tree, to the penny on the floor, to the helicopter flying in the sky, to the “BUG!” (the one crawling on your shirt…). Next time, just try to notice something beautiful around you, in your neighborhood, during your commute, at school, at work, or maybe even at home. Be grateful for clean sidewalks, working traffic lights, clear skies, or maybe some falling leaves overhead?
2) Express Your Unique Self
Where did my daughter learn this? I’m pretty sure she made it up on her own, at least the no-handed variation of a sort-of downward dog/headstand yoga pose. As we get older, we tend to fit ourselves into different molds based on jobs or roles we take. Don’t be afraid to do something differently, and to add your personal flair. Be unique. Be creative. Be yourself, not a toned-down version.
3) That’s So Cool…
Who doesn’t love bubbles??? There’s something magical about bubbles and how they float, glow, and disappear! There’s so many magical things around us that are just plain amazing and we often take these inventions for granted. Airplanes fly, lights turn on and off, water runs from the shower head, bicycle wheels turn… My car battery died this week, and I am sure you understand the inconvenience that always causes. As soon as it got fixed and my car was running again, I realized how grateful I am just to have a working car. There is so much else that could go wrong inside of a car that I don’t understand, so to me, cars are absolutely magical.
4) Take On Challenges
“YEAH!” is the usual reaction we get whenever we propose trying something new or different. The lack of fear of failure is really refreshing. Everything is an exciting challenge in my daughter’s eyes and to her, it is fun to keep trying and trying. As adults who may have failed many times already, that fear of failure is scary. It can be painful, it can be disappointing, it can be traumatizing. Do we keep trying to pursue our passions or have we given up?
5) Make New Friends
This is a classic example of my daughter. We were walking in a mall and a slightly older girl runs past us. My daughter? She immediately starts chasing the girl, giggling and following her everywhere. The girl notices and begins running faster, circling, hiding, and my daughter is happily chasing her in this self-created game of tag. Similarly, we go in elevators and my daughter always is the one who pops her head out of the stroller and says, “Hi!” to the stranger. Maybe she’s on one extreme of super-friendliness, but I’m pretty sure there’s a balance where we can all be a little friendlier too. Maybe we can start by making more eye-contact or maybe a simple nod to acknowledge someone. Your friendly gesture just might make someone’s day.
6) Everything Can Be a Playground
Who needs slides or swings when you have two ropes with bells hanging down? My daughter is able to turn any object or place into something fun to play on and she doesn’t need much more. She can find plenty of ways to stay active and healthy. No treadmill needed! As adults, many of us tend to choose the less-active option if given a choice. Sitting versus standing, driving versus walking, elevators versus stairs… we would all be so much healthier if we incorporated more physical activity in our day-to-day schedule like children do! Why don’t you try the “harder” way next time?
7) The Grass is Green
We all know the phrase, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Adults just complain too much. It’s understandable. We have work, errands, projects, deadlines, meetings, appointments, plans, etc. But we complain about our current situations and think that if circumstances were different, it would be better. This results in too much stress, worry, frowning, and general unhappiness. What is it about kids that really make them different from adults? They are carefree. There is no worry of future. It is all about the present moment and making the most of it. I think there’s something to be learned from that. The grass you are on right now IS green, really green in fact. Can you see that?
8) Chores Can Be Fun
This past month, my daughter wants to do everything that I am doing… laundry, cooking, washing dishes… so now I just let her help me. She takes out the clothes from the dryer and helps to sort them by “Da Da’s pants” vs. “Pants mine.” She helps me to mix ingredients in bowls, wash vegetables, and move slices from the cutting board to a plate. And she likes using the sponge to wash her dishes and rinse off the soap. She even scoops and feeds our dog kibble everyday (sometimes hand-feeding…). Somehow having her participate in these chores has made it more fun for me too – it’s no longer a chore, but an activity for us to “play” together.
9) Say, “CHEESE!”
One of my favorite exhibits that is currently at the Exploratorium in San Francisco is the laughing video. You sit in a chair in front of a TV that loops a couple seconds of different people laughing hysterically at something. In just a couple of seconds, the laughing just becomes contagious even though you have no idea what they are laughing about. I love it, and so does my daughter. We all need to smile and laugh more, don’t we? And just like the exhibit, if we laugh, then others around us will too!
10) It’s OK to Make Mistakes
A few weeks ago, I went to get my daughter in the morning as usual, but when I opened the door, she was completely undressed. She had learned a new skill – taking off her pajamas and taking off her DIAPER!!! And instead of saying, “Good morning,” she just kept saying, “ALL WET! ALL WET!” Yes. Your bed is wet because you took off your diaper and then you went pee-pee. Of course, who could get mad at that? Fortunately, it was a one-time occurrence because she understood the consequence of taking off her diaper, and it hasn’t happened since. That’s ok, we all make mistakes, and what matters is that we learn from them!
I can’t resist posting the picture…
Too memorable to leave out!
Parenting has been hands-down the most challenging task I’ve ever done, and I only have a 2-year-old! Nothing prepares you to be the perfect parent, and I am constantly learning and changing and trying to be a better mom. It is a humbling experience, and yet, it is the most rewarding and wonderful gift I could ever ask for.
Thank you, Zaydee, for teaching me to see the world through your eyes. Happy 2nd Birthday!