Wednesday, 28 December 2011
How to live a long time without growing old...
Life as a child must be such an amazing and exciting experience. I have been giving a lot of thought to what it would be like if, for one crazy, madcap day, we could become children again, still retaining what we know now. How much would it change of how we view the world? I believe there are various principles that we lose over time, as we grow up and become jaded by our contact with the world, that perhaps we could use more of in our lives as we live them now. Just watching the boys and Little Miss Snoopy over this time of being away on a family holiday, I have come up with these Guiding Light Principles of being a child that we could apply to our adult lives with very little detriment, and perhaps a whole lot of benefit:
Principle Number One: If you love something, do it over and over again. And over and over again after that. That way when you look back, you will never be able to say "I wish I had done that more". We recently took our lot to the Water Recreation Centre, where we spent about four and a half hours in the lazy river, swimming around and around the central concrete block in the current of the river. Every time we rounded the corner, and the twins yelled "Again!", I realised that it was like the first time they had tried it. Every time. And each time, the enjoyment was the same, the breathless anticipation, the excitement and feelings of joy. Wow - how powerful is that?
Principle Number Two: Extract the utmost enjoyment out of every single moment, anticipate it for hours before and love every moment of it during, then think about it for ages afterwards. We got given a box of mixed chocolates for Christmas, and for about 45 minutes as we were traveling in the car, the boys were pouring over the illustrations on the box, deciding which chocolate they were going to choose for an after-dinner treat. When they finally got to have one, they savoured each moment, then immediately asked for their second choice as a follow-up. For quite a while after that, they were talking to each other about whose had been the best/biggest/most exciting.
Principle Number Three: Feel. It never ceases to amaze me how much emotion my little ones can squeeze into the smallest occurrences. A little act like biting one's tongue in the middle of eating something nice can provoke heart-rending howls far unequal to the trauma of the occasion. Likewise, putting on their new Spiderman outfits is a moment suffused with such excitement and breathless anticipation they almost are unable to speak (almost). They seem to experience emotion in a purer, more distilled form than we do, and are not ashamed to give vent to those feelings. We should learn to laugh with feeling, heartily and without reserve, and conversely to cry and grieve, and perhaps there would be less depression in the world?
Principle Number Four: If something means something to you, hang onto it at all costs. This includes if your sibling or twin wants to try to take it from you (cling to it for dear life and utter ear-piercing shrieks of dismay), if your mom tells you to "Give that here" (in which case you run and hide and hope she doesn't find you), or if you have to go to bed (and then you decide to take it with you to bed, rather than trust that it will be there when you wake up. Even if the object is something inappropriate for bed, like a large fire-engine, complete with a prickly ladder and working siren that goes off every time you turn over).
Principle Number Five: If you love someone, tell them. Unreservedly, and without wondering how they are going to receive it. And also without expecting anything in return. When the twins snuggle their little bodies into bed beside me in the mornings, they unreservedly utter "I love you Soooo much Mama". They also seem to think that I am "the most beautiful lady in the whole world" (ah, to have a pair of those eyes again!). What would it do to the ones we love if we told them that sort of thing every day? And how would our relationships change?
Principle Number Six: Sometimes the best presents we can give are the simplest things, but those which involve a bit of effort. There is something about the wilted flower that is proffered in a grubby fist that outstrips all the perfumes, jewels and money in the world. And it doesn't matter if that fist is a small, childlike one, or that of the man in your life!
Principle Number Seven: Allow the pain of someone else to affect you deeply. Watching the two boys discover a dead shark on the beach today, and their sincere grief and outrage at his death, made me think about how open they are to feeling the pain of others. "Poor creature," they both said, with tears in their eyes, and they speculated about how he might have died, and whether his mommy was missing him.
There are so many more principles - perhaps this could be part one of a series! But suffice it to say that there is so much we can learn from our kids - what are yours' teaching you every day, if you take the time to listen to their lessons instead of giving too many of your own?