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Sometimes it’s really difficult to see who is growing more from this relationship of ours, sometimes it seems the roles of teacher and student quickly reverse and yet most of the time we discover a better version of each of us in the process. It seems every time I take advantage of a learning opportunity with her, I’m the one learning a lesson in the end. Sure, most of these (if not all) are lessons I’ve encountered before but it wasn’t until I stressed them with her that I realized just how important and forever applicable they really are.

  1  
PATIENCE HAS TO BE GIVEN TO GET IN RETURN

Patience, much like respect, has to be demonstrated before its received. I’ve noticed the more impatient I am with her, or anything really, the more likely a lack of patience will be reciprocated. If I rush her to put her shoes on so we can leave, she’ll rush me later when she wants a snack. If I take my time and explain it’s time to go, she’ll have an easier time understanding later that a snack waits until after dinner. Providing an example in my actions gives her a reference point to reflect on which helps her mirror my behavior later (scary, but true).

  2  
FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE

Flattery will get you everywhere… or at least somewhere. There’s nothing wrong with a genuine compliment and she’s learned that if she mentions how much she likes my shirt or her mother’s hair that our mood, regardless of any state prior, tends to swing her way and so she applies this lesson often, sometimes to waiters or cashiers or strangers in general. She’s proven to be a very positive kid and she often reminds us that every day “is a happy day” before she questions our facial expressions should they display otherwise.

  3  
EVERY DAY IS A NEW DAY

Sleeping in is overrated, one should wake up early and seize the day. Unlike the sleeping habits of late infancy/early toddlerhood with this one where she slept late and throughout the night, now she fights bedtime and rises early like a bird in some cliché attempt of catching the worm. She pushes open the door to the bedroom her mother and I share with as much force as she can garner and shouts “Boo!” to startle us awake. It works. As much as it pains me to pry my eyelids apart from a sought after slumber, once opened her enthusiasm for a new day becomes contagious.

  4  
LONG LIVE IMAGINATION

Imagination is not something we should allow ourselves to grow out of. Maybe it’s work or maybe it’s age or maybe it’s just life in general, but as time goes on the more I notice creativity and imagination extinguishing itself… and that’s a sad epiphany. I wear whatever hat or headband or character she assigns me and I sit in the floor until my back hurts because whatever game she’s playing, I want in. Everyone should grasp the imaginations of our children and hold tight with both hands, regardless if the world is truly becoming a better place or not at least we’ll have the ability to pretend it’s true.

  5  
COLOR OUTSIDE THE LINES

It’s okay to color outside the lines (both literally and figuratively).  Her coloring has come a long way since she first picked up a crayon and while it’s nice to see the pictures colored in as intended, part of me misses the freedom of expectation that came with the books she filled in the past. Every time I hear someone say “make sure you color inside the lines” a little part of me cringes in fear that individuality is being silenced and conformity is being encouraged. A little deep? Probably. However, if she wants to color outside the lines or give her Ice Queen a purple dress instead of blue for the time being, I see nothing wrong with that. Stepping outside the box, outside our comfort zones, should be something we all do a little more often.

  6  
THE BIGGER THE MESS, THE WORSE THE CLEAN UP

For a while, it was a free-for-all when it came to her toys and often our living room and/or her bedroom looked like a toy store exploded leaving remnants of games abandoned or dolls in various states of dressing. When asked to clean up, she didn’t know where to start. Recently, we’ve asked that she put toys away when she’s done with them or when she decides to play with something else in effort to maintain the chaos. Much like when she’s older, resolving one issue before tackling another will help keep any problems and their potential for piling up at bay.

  7  
THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH ASKING FOR HELP

If someone needs help with something, they shouldn't be afraid to ask; we all need assistance from time to time which is exactly why everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. That being said, one shouldn't ask for help if they truly don't need it. When she asks me to hold her cup so she can have a sip simply because it's cold to her hands, I encourage her to do it herself because we both know she can. If there's something she needs on a shelf she can't reach, then I'm there to lift her up. As someone who rarely asks for help because I've subconsciously convinced myself I can do it all, this lesson is one I constantly need to be reminded of.

  8  
WORD CHOICE IS IMPORTANT

As easy as it is to litter our vocabulary with mindless words, we should really make more of an effort to focus on the choices we're making before allowing the letters to leave our lips. With kids especially, the words that stick are always a gamble and why supply them with elements that leave their speech less than desirable. When hearing certain words you've said from the mouth of a toddler, it's clear word choice is imperative and should be applied across communication as a whole. This isn't to say we should water down our conversations, I've heard her say words that seem foreign for her age and she's received compliments on her own word choices, but we should be cognizant that the words we choose have purpose and meaning leaving those with negative connotations behind.

  9  
IT'S NOT ALWAYS WHAT YOU SAY; IT'S HOW YOU SAY IT

As crucial as it is that we choose our words wisely, it's also necessary to focus on how we deliver those words. I've been reminded on several occasions that how I speak to her almost means more than what I'm saying. When reprimanding her, I should still be patient and respectful and firm without crossing into angry or yelling or nasty territory. She seems to respond well when her mother and I are calm and direct versus the opposite. Granted, this is easier said than done but it applies in every aspect across every age in every stage of life. 

  10  
SOMETIMES WORDS AREN'T NECESSARY

This may seem to contradict the last two, but it's worth mentioning. There are times where words aren't able to carry the weight of a situation and a hug or a listening ear proves to be more sufficient. Sometimes we need to listen more than we speak. Sometimes we need to provide a shoulder instead of advice. Sometimes people really do forget what you may have said, but they almost never forget how you made them feel... a lesson better learned early instead of the hard way.


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