Teachings from a Toddler

Parents are biased. Fact. We think our kids are the cutest, smartest, funniest, most adorable little beings on the planet… well most of the time. Sometimes we literally pay people to take them off our hands and run out the door, grasping at the shreds of sanity slipping through our fingers.

We spend our days teaching them what they need to know; what they can and cannot touch, how they should behave, how to clean up after themselves. I recently put up a canvas with our “Family Rules” displayed for the boys to see, and smile that the first three Caleb can recite are Listen, Obey, and No Whining.

Listen, Obey, and No Whining (with the implied caveat, that we’re only listening and obeying to those teaching/correcting us out of love). Oh, if it were only that easy, but that’s not reality. Reality is knowing that whether your thirty or three, we all have the gift of free will, and when we listen to something that we do NOT want to obey, the whining, or out right rebellion follows. We might know in our hearts that we SHOULD obey, but we don’t, the choice is ours alone. It doesn’t make us bad people… just people making bad choices, a small but important distinction.

While I spend my days teaching, the boys are not the only ones that need to be listening and learning. When I step down off my pedestal of “Mom”, I realize they are teaching me WAY more important things, then how to properly wipe a tush so as not to leave ‘residue’ behind… although let’s be honest, this is also pretty important!

If you read this, you likely see most of my posts on FB too, surrounding some of Caleb’s cuter moments…. A video declaring his innocent, heartfelt love of his family. Choosing to help kids that would otherwise eat ‘sticks and bugs’ with the only dollar he has. Saying with conviction that guns don’t keep people safe, hugs do. That is a whole lotta wisdom & heart packed into a pint-sized package. I would LOVE to take credit for it, but I can’t.

My first impulse when he told me he was gonna give his dollar away, was to tell him he didn’t have to do that, that it was his money and he could use it on anything he wanted. I’m thankful I stopped the words from coming out of my mouth, because as I thought about it, what would I have taught him with that statement. That he should second guess his decision to give, and think about himself first… what kind of education would THAT have been?!? I found myself ashamed that my 3 year old taught me this, and not the other way around.

Then yesterday, when I learned his response to what keeps people safe was “Hugs keep people safe”, my gut reaction was, aww he’s cute, too bad that’s not the case. What are we teaching him in saying we need guns to keep us safe? He’s got it right on this major life lesson too… if we love God AND love our enemy, we wouldn’t need guns to keep us safe… the power in our corner would be a WHOLE lot more powerful than any ‘ol gun! It’s pretty humbling to have a three year old point out the flaws in our way of thinking.

Our society heaps so much prestige on titles, position, and influence. From corporations down to a single family unit, we are set up to have leaders, orders, and rank, and are cautioned to be mindful of our position, and not step too far outside its bounds. We’ve minimized the value of children, especially young ones, to cute things that we need to manage. To me, it seems societies view of success is found in the parent that has complete control over their children, that has essentially replaced the gift of free will, with a forced will… and we see the ramifications of that throughout society.

What if we, *gasp*, stepped off our pedestals, let go of our titles, and acknowledge we are all just people, making choices, sometimes bad ones? Would it be so awful to learn forgiveness, grace, and patience at the hands of our children, in exchange for teaching them to eat vegetables, exercise, and say please and thank-you? We make ourselves believe its our job to show them how to live life right, but I’m learning the more I stop teaching and start listening, the more they are teaching ME how to live life right.

Whatcha think???? I'd love to know!