Disclaimer: I have the world's greatest 3 year old grandson. How else can you explain learning valuable life lessons from someone younger than any shirt I own? While I like to believe he is smart beyond his years, I would guess most kids have something to tell us, if we'd only pay attention. So I did pay attention during a long weekend with the family in Flagstaff. Here is my takeaway from that time together.
Finding Joy in Everything
He can find joy and excitement in the most common of daily activities. There is almost nothing that doesn't cause him to smile, gush enthusiasm, or run toward whatever it is that has captured his attention. He has yet to unlearn the precious belief that every moment of every day can bring a new adventure.
Sometime in the next 3 or 4 years he will probably lose this innate sense of joy. Disappointments, a bully at school, a friend who says unkind things, or a clearer understanding of the existence of bad things in the world will cause him to exercise caution. He will moderate his enthusiasm and be a little less free with hugs and smiles. He, his family, and our world will be a little less sunny when that happens.
Show Respect for Others
Something that used to be quite common in America, but now is often restricted to the very young is respect for one's elders. You might argue that he isn't showing respect, as much as awareness where the power in the family is. He may throw an occasional temper tantrum but Mom and Dad are going to win and he knows it. Even so, he speaks with respect to them and his grandparents. He listens when one of us is talking. He acknowledges our presence.
Respect for experience and for gaining some perspective are attributes that come with age. Respecting what someone older than you can teach you is a missing part of our society's character.
Being polite gets you farther than being nasty. He can overpower his little sister (who is also an absolute gem!) and take what he wants. But, he has learned the uproar isn't worth it. By asking politely to share more often than not he gets what he wants. Honey does get you more than vinegar.
The public discourse in our country has become quite unpleasant. Polite exchanges of honest differences of opinion are out of favor. Yelling and name-calling are more our style. Those who don't agree with us are not simply misinformed, they are probably evil. Politeness has become a weakness and we are the worse for it. We need to listen and learn from the children.
Money is often overrated
Money is completely unnecessary for many of life's greatest pleasures. I have yet to see my grandson decide not to explore something or taste something or do something because he has no money. He loves watching trains. He adores family picnics. He goes crazy over dinosaurs. He plays for hours by himself or with his sister. He doesn't miss any of this just because he has no wallet.
I'd contend that many of the sweetest experiences in life are absolutely free. A glorious sunset, a conversation with a friend, a cup of coffee on the back porch, a hand-in-hand walk with someone you love are still untaxed, unregulated, and available to you. 3 year olds have no concept of limiting their joy because of finances. We would benefit from remembering that lesson.
Control your own schedule
Eat when you are hungry. Nap when you are tired. Stop doing something when it bores you. Don't worry. My grandson has these guidelines pretty much figured out. Sometime soon he'll lose the freedom to act on them whenever he wants. But, for now he has life by the tail.
I wish I was less controlled by the clock, the to-do list, and my schedule. Come to think of it, it is time for a nap right now.
Before I go, a question for you. What lesson or fresh insight have you learned from a younger person in your life? What did a child say or do that reminded you of an important life lesson? I'd be quite interested. Thanks!
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