I know the concept of what my children have taught me is pretty overdone. I mean, a lot of it goes without saying, right? Love, of course. Patience … not yet, but I’m working on it. Imagination and finding a sense of humour in life, without a doubt. But maybe more superficially then all that, I’ve been thinking about some things that my children have taught me on a practical level, in ways that have actually helped me in day to day life. And it’s stuff that is very specific to their personalities.
Take for instance my lovely daughter E. She is without a doubt the most determined character I have ever met. She just does not give up. It’s wonderful and inspiring and sometimes exhausting. She’s working right now on this whole walking business. She took her first step just before her first birthday, so she is absolutely right on track, but it didn’t come as easy to her as it did for her brother, who just sort of floated up in an energetic buzz at ten months and has yet to come down yet. But for my stolid, solid girl, she’s had to work at it. And she does, without complaint, without tire. Day in, day out, she practices. She just taught herself how to stand up without holding on to anything. I watched her as she struggled to right herself, teetering precariously and finally finding the balance she needed to keep herself up, legs splayed and arms out. She allowed herself one gummy grin of triumph, before sitting down and starting over again. She would not stop until she felt she had it down, then she toddled away, immensely pleased with herself. Now she knows she has the basics down and she can get up when she needs to.
I’ve been trying to take that same dedication and commitment to learning movement with my yoga practice. Movement has never come easily to me – I’m about as spastic and uncoordinated as they come. I’m neither strong nor flexible, yet, but I’m working at it. I’ve been trying to do the crow pose for about six months now. It’s an arm balance pose and initially I couldn’t even conceive of being able to get up into the position. And working at it is hard and frustrating, especially when I don’t see a lot of improvement. But I watch E plugging away at whatever it is she’s decided to do, and it makes me realize I can do that as well. Everyday I work at the posture, sometimes improving, some days feeling like I’m backtracking. But I keep on doing it, and whenever I get a small triumph (I stayed up for five seconds!) I allow myself a little smile, then get down and start all over again.
Now on to X – thanks to him, I find myself spending WAY more time than any person should actually spend planning my escape in case of dinosaur attacks. For reals. Not even like pretending with X, more like thinking through my strategem of how to get the kids to the car and the garage open if velociraptors attacked.
All joking aside (sort of), X is my crazy hyper active little whirlwind – we don’t have a lot in common. All he wants to do is run run run or occasionally bike, while all I want to do is just please god let me sit down and finish my coffee before it’s cold too late. One way that we are entirely different is he is the most extroverted little person I’ve met in my life. I am very introverted – I would never willingly go up and speak to someone without an express invitation, and even then I’d awkwardly stumble over small talk (even worse when it’s in a foreign language). But X has no compunctions about dashing up to someone, anyone, and assume they want to play with him. It doesn’t matter if they are 10 years older than him, he just thinks anyone would be crazy not to play with him. And he’s usually right. If you look around a playground, no matter how crowded it is, I can guarantee you X is the one who is having the absolute most fun. He exudes joy and laughter and other children flock to him. Definitely a natural leader, that one. But if he does run up to a kid and introduce himself and ask them to play, occasionally you’ll meet someone who gives him a look of disdain and turns their back on him, or tells him to go away. My mother’s heart immediately breaks for him.
I should know better by now. X takes zero offence. He’s just like, okay see you later, and runs on to someone more fun. It’s amazing how kids being mean just flows right off of him as if he’s immune. I’m sure part of it is he’s just too young to understand, but that can’t be it entirely. Even when I was his age I was shy and awkward, terrified of people. It would take me weeks to speak to someone. I think X is very confident in himself, so sure that people would just want to be around him, he has chill just dripping off of him. And I wish I could be more like him. I’m never going to be extroverted, but I’ve been trying to be a bit less easily offended and sensitive. If I’m given a cold shoulder, I try to just give a little shrug and think “okay see you later,” and go off and have more fun somewhere else. It’s a work in progress, but I definitely would like to develop a way to be less sensitive (and awkward and shy). And so I’m learning from my little social butterfly.
With the help of these two little monsters, I’m becoming a better version of myself, a little bit each day.