Learning Life Lessons from Kids
Memories constantly cross through my mind from my childhood that consist of running around the house dressed in my mom’s shoes and a Barbie tube top, or sitting behind one of my dad’s old microscopes playing Biologist looking at rainwater that sat in a backyard planter for a few days…like many kids, I just wanted to grow up. I knew of all these things I wanted to be, and that list was endless (well, it kind of is still pretty long). My parents always reminded me, “Hey you don’t want to grow up too fast!” but of course, I was always too busy asking my mother if I could play with her makeup or catch more insects in the creek to really listen. In grade school, we looked up to the 6th graders as people to aspire too (and hide from), and it wasn’t much different in high school when we were freshmen and admired (and hated) the seniors. We are all taught through school that once we grow up, we’ll be set, we’ll be smart and we think we’ll be some kind of superhuman know-it-all once we reach a certain adult age, but now I look back at my parents’ warning and I think we can take the “don’t grow up to fast” concept throughout our lives. It seems to have another meaning now. It’s funny, it takes growing up to realize that we don’t really truly stop growing up.
A lot of us seem to get pretty smug when we “grow up,” buying into the concept that we’re all set and even turn ourselves off to the idea of learning anything more, whether it be academic or not. Having “playtime” becomes taboo in the eyes of society and we all fall into the stressful rat-race full of road rage, flipping out over the simplest of things that fall in our way as we buy into the superiority complex that the said race seems to give us. Stress becomes normal, and those that are relaxed are often looked at as “irresponsible” or “naive.” Optimism is a lost concept in today’s society, if you ask me, as pessimists label themselves as “realists.” Shenanigans, I say. I’d love to tell that to all the drivers on the road out there who are constantly tailgating or swerving around as if that somehow makes them save time. All they are doing is causing themselves extra, unneeded stress.
One of my coworkers has this adorable daughter that comes in every now and then and always makes a beeline for me, asking for a piece of paper so she can draw me something. Today, accidentally handed her a piece with a coffee stain on it…but instead of complaining about it, she turned around and got to work with my pen in her hand, then proudly turned around to show me she had turned the yellow coffee stain into a bright yellow sun with a happy Easter bunny hopping underneath it. I beamed! What an awesome outlook she had…in a world where people tend to expect everything that comes to them to already be perfect and primed for their consumption. I consider myself an optimist, but it still reminded me the simple value of seeing the good side of everything that life brings.
After our academic years are over, we move more into a “life lessons” or “spiritual lessons” phase, I believe…where we are constantly learning about ourselves, the world we live in, and how to always be the best version of ourselves. I used to be so afraid to speak to kids, not knowing exactly how to talk to them, but within the last few years I have realized that it’s not just kids who learn from adults, but we adults can learn (or be reminded of) so much from kids as well…it comes full circle! That limitless optimism, excitement and ability to always see the good in everything should never be lost in us and kids help remind us of that. I think it’s funny that when I was a kid I just wanted to grow up, but now I find myself wanting to go back sometimes when I find myself in a messy stressful situation, longing to go back into that same, optimistic mental state. I am reminded of my long-distance running training with Chirunning, which in part, instructs us to run like we did when we were kids…arms flailing, relaxed, and just moving forward letting our legs do all the work (ok maybe not literally flailing around making everyone believe we’ve finally lost it) as opposed to over-thinking everything and tensing up—which causes injury. Of course in the perfect world we would all have jobs we love (I’m thankful I do!) but no matter what, we need to keep our eyes on the big picture, and learn to think more in the abstract…keep moving forward and keeping our eyes open to see the brightness (and maybe even opportunity) in everything. What good does it do for us to do nothing but grumble, complain and drive ourselves crazy?