in spite of all the lessons I am called to dish out to my children at a moments notice, as any parent worth their pinch of salt will agree, there comes that rare moment where all the education, experience, adult wisdom and understanding must take a moment and bow to the inexplicable honesty and brutal truth that comes from the mouthes of our children.
In my case, as much as life has been my biggest and most brutal teacher, those extra special lessons the ones that take your breath away because of their simplicity, have come through the teachings of two beautiful warriors, neither of whom at present, stands taller than my belt buckle.
Who would have thought some of life’s most important lessons could come from 2 little boys whose cumulative ages stands at a little over 7 years. And you thought God didn’t have a sense of humour when he created parenting.
1. If you do that one more time…
Probably the greatest life lesson and the one taught with as much finess and grace as blunt force trauma from an I Beam is Patience 101. I used to think it quite novel that my wife was the patient one, the problem with that is, the course still needs to be passed, I just was “that guy” sitting in the back of the class with a smug look on his face throughout lectures, but come exam time, “that Guy” begins to cry and wishes he’d paid more attention to the lecturer ie: LIFE!
An example of how far I have come due to the gentle coaxing of my children resulting from numerous unanswered requests, flat refusals or explanations like “I didn’t hear you, I was listening to God” is my response to spilling water on the keyboard of my Macbook as I am writing this piece. I didn’t freak out, openly anyway, I calmly, patiently, walked into the coffee shop and with the grace of a gentle summer’s breeze asked for a cloth to save my beloved. Now I was freaking out on the inside, as most of us do when our patience is tested, but the joy of children is that when you refuse to give away the power and give the impression that you are cool, calm and collected, they start to become concerned, at your come-what-may demeanour and instinctively realise their mom/dad knows something they don’t, so best start listening. Thanks boys, now I hope I can finish this article without electrocuting myself.
2. Bob the Builder 101
I love Lego, I built it, I bought it, I was given it, I stood on it and subsequently even bled on it. As a child, imagination is king! Creating a glowing “S-shaped sign for Shakespeare’s globe theatre equipped with electricity or building the most non-aerodynamically shaped bricks that could be propelled to light speeds in a manner of seconds with the wave of a hand, these were all a daily occurence.
Then one day we wake up and between making breakfast, brushing our teeth and driving to work our imagination disappears. The sky is no longer the limit and our super vision becomes mere eyesight, our hulk like strength fades into back ache, and when things get a little tough, we exercise our constitutionally protected right to stop doing what is hard.
But then you have kids, and in my case, there seems to be nothing wrong with expecting Daddy to create the Death Star or a Nuclear submarine that can both drive and fly from a hand full of multi coloured bricks. “Whats wrong Dad?” their confused little faces seem to say “Surely you can make a plan?”. To quote the Lego Movie, due to the continual encouragement and demands of my children I have progressed through the Bob the builder course on perseverance and have become a Master Builder, take that President Business!
3. I’m angry, I forgive you, I love you
Adults have a terminal condition that rears its ugly head as our child likeness takes a bow. It is fascinating how my boys can go from roses and daisies to the Nuclear apocalypse and back to roses and daisies in a matter of minutes. There are no grudges, no “I owe you’s” or vendettas needing completion. Sure the wars can be brutal, sudden and collateral damage is a daily occurence, but the speed at which children can get over themselves, express sorrow, give love and move on, astounds me.
Between ISIS, Boko Haram, politics, corruption and all other forms of hatred that we feel justified in not “getting over” or letting go, imagine how far a little childlike love and forgiveness would go. Imagine what the world would look like if we were to forgive as quickly and as completely as children.
4. Catch me if you can
So it’s 5 minutes before bedtime and much to my wife’s dismay, I am following through on my promise to wrestle on mommy and daddy’s bed. It’s the ultimate royal rumble, no holds barred, free for all with the last man standing being declared champion over all. Just then my son’s tag team, they cut me off and attack me from opposite sides, they launch themselves at me and with the airtime of a Pro Basketball player making that game changing dunk, they crash into me. I use all the strength I can muster to save them from crashing to the floor. For me it is quite a feat, for them, it’s just another game.
It amazes me that it doesn’t cross there mind, not even for a second that perhaps tonight daddy won’t catch us, perhaps we should tackle him and not launch ourselves upwards expecting him to catch us. Nope, not my boys. That trust children place in our hands, that unconditional and never-failing expectation that we will always be there, this is something I wish them to keep, and wish I never lost. Sure people let you down, your feelings and expectations are trampled, but what a world they must live in when they know with every fibre of their being that they can trust and not have it be a mistake.
We become so guarded and careful, treating people with such caution often expecting them to let us down even before giving them a chance to try. Once again, thank you for Trust 101.
5. Engage your tickle button
The last lesson for today, and one of my favourites. Sometimes I am woken up at night by an odd noise, it’s not the breaking of glass, the grumbling of thunder or the ringing of my cellphone. Sometimes, if I am lucky, I am woken up by the soft giggles of my son as he dreams a dream that fills him with such happiness that it causes him to laugh in his sleep. One of the most life-giving sounds is the sound of a child’s laughter.
They can laugh at a tree, a funny shaped bug, the lamest of jokes or the weirdest noise, but when they laugh, it’s as if God has reached into their souls and pulled out the joy he placed deep within them. To laugh uncontrollably is to exercise the gifts of a child. I think we need more of that and I am so thankful for the lessons of rolling on the floor, laughing at seemingly nothing till your stomach hurts, taught with such expertise by my sons. If there is one button I will never tire of seeing my kids push over and over again it is my tickle button and theirs, here’s to laughter.
Send me your lessons, I’d love to hear what you’ve learnt and are, much like me, still learning.