Here’s a few things I learned from my little people:
1. Suit up and show up. When in doubt, choose the superhero costume.
It’s so easy to tell our kids – or our spouses – that we’re too tired or too busy to meet their needs. After all, is another game of Chutes and Ladders really a need? Do we really need to explain the theory of relativity one more time? Does the big guy really need a from-scratch blueberry turnover? (I think I’m kind of convicting myself here… I don’t know if it’s working on any of you…) I’ve learned from my kids that YES! …the needs of my family are important! Soon, they will not want to play Chutes and Ladders with me! So, go ahead: tie a bedsheet ’round your neck, find your best underoos and get playing!
2. Eat small, simple meals. Make those calories count. If you don’t like it, feel free to puff out your cheeks.
Maybe this is just a lesson for me (ooo… more conviction). Kids only eat when they’re hungry. I learned early on to make sure the calories they were taking in were good ones. I want to do the same for myself. I don’t want to limit my diet due to pickiness, but maybe it’s acceptable to skip an item once in a while. I hate beets. They have always made me feel seriously ill. It turns out that I’m allergic to them. So… maybe it’s alright (once in a while) to puff out my cheeks and head to broccoli, kale or cauliflower instead. As long as I’m not spending those calories on cookies instead.
3. What goes into my head will inevitably come back out. Loudly. In public.
Have you ever caught your children saying some really awful, mortifying thing in the middle of a crowded sphere of people – like the foyer at church? Have you ever wondered where in the world they heard such a thing – until you catch yourself saying the exact same thing the very next day? Kids repeat what they hear. They emulate what they see. Here’s the kicker: so do we. Everything we hear, read and see impacts some part of our psyche. Don’t believe me? Why do you think advertisers spend such an unbelievable amount of money on 30-second commercials? It certainly isn’t because they don’t impact behavior.
4. Lighten up! Life is funny.
Look, if your kids aren’t making you laugh at unbelievably silly things, maybe they’re broken. Or – maybe you are. Try laughing. Just once, try laughing loudly and hysterically at one of their silly jokes, funny faces, or adorable faux baby kisses. Then, keep laughing; it’s good for you.
5. It’s OK to cry. It’s also OK to get over it.
I remember when our smallest child fell and cracked his skull. He (understandably) cried, wailed and hyperventilated. Then, he peeled himself off my tear-soaked shirt, patted my face and went to visit his brother, who was digging for worms. Much laughter ensued (as I called the pediatrician and watched him for signs of nausea). What’s the point? It’s alright to cry, and to mourn. Just don’t forget to stop crying and revisit point number 4.
6. Sometimes my friends are mean. They just need a hug.
OK, dear friends… just know you are never mean. But if you were, perhaps a hug would make it all better. Sometimes the best way to break the tension at home is a great big hug. It certainly works for our boys when Mommy has gone over the edge.
Those are just a few of the lessons from my little people. Care to share some of the lessons from yours?
~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is the author of When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther (Fortress Press, 2015), Wonderfully Made (CF4K, 2016), and Bible Road Trip. Her work has been featured in internationally-recognized children's magazines over 150 times.