Parenting is often compared to a roller coaster ride. “Why worry?” you think to yourself, rather smugly. When your time comes you take your seat on the ride, buckle up and hold on to the handrails tightly, hoping that everything goes smoothly. But nothing can prepare you for that ride full of twists and turns. I’m a father to an active toddler, and over the past 26 months, he’s taught me more than education, books or even my parents could have in almost three decades. Collectively they’ve been my guide to live a more positive life and today I’d like to share some of them with you.
Have you ever put a toddler in front of a mirror and observed their reaction? While most of us would fuss about our hair or that persistent acne on our face, they would smile, make faces and sometimes even talk to their mirror image. They adore themselves.
Toddlers will keep trying till they succeed. Just watch them try to pick up something that they really want to get their hands on, from the floor. No matter how long it takes, they will succeed. Defeat is never an option.
Be fearless; trust your instincts
I’ve often felt my heart beat like a set of percussion drums when watching my son jump from up on the dining room table from the chair. But not him. He knows what he’s doing. And when he falls down from a chair or the sofa and hurts himself, he picks himself up and tries again.
Live on your own terms
As adults, we tend to get bound by the “terms” of society. But not these little ones. They are unperturbed by expectations, acceptance, rejection, rules, controls and everything other thing that defines society to an adult. They do what they want, when they want and how they want.
Happiness in little things
My little one has taught me that I can still find joy in the tiniest of things – the crackling of an empty wrapper, making the shadows dance on the wall, or simply dancing in the rain, to name a few. Happiness is all around us.
Of course, not all lessons are profound in nature. Some are just practical, such as:
- Remembering to lock the bathroom door behind you, unless you want them to cheer you on while you complete your ablutions.
- Silence is the most dangerous noise that a toddler can make; if they are awake, silent and out of sight, something is going on somewhere.
- Flexibility: Some parents will hate me for this, but sometimes it’s okay to have ice cream as dinner. Or cake.
- Saving money: You can get the same kind of workout at home as at the gym. Just pick up your toddler’s toys and jump over those dangerous Lego blocks.
- There aren’t many disagreements that cannot be solved by a combination of a genuine apology, teddy-bear style hug and some kisses
- Always buy gadgets with extra warranty. Preferably an accidental damage coverage too. No matter how hard you try to protect it, at some point, something valuable of yours will either be thrown off the balcony, into the swimming pool or down the drain.
- Patience: Reading that same story book fourteen times or listening to that nursery rhyme on an indefinite loop can teach us a thing or two about being patient.
- Lost and Found: Any object that is missing in the house can be found in their toy box.
And finally, the most important lesson that I’ve learnt from my toddler is, no matter what is going on inside you, outside you or around you, smile. Some days, that’s all it takes to make you a better human being.
About Sid Balachandran
Academically an engineer and a product manager by profession, Sid believes that his true calling lies in writing. Having recently relocated back to India after an eight-year stint in London, he writes short stories, social satire and about his parenting escapades involving his toddler son. He can be found weaving his tales at www.iwrotethose.com