I have seen this child look in the mirror with a busted lip and scratched up face from taking a tumble, only to smile at herself and tell me me she was beautiful.
In the above photo she said she was beautiful and asked me to take her picture. I thought she looked a mess, rolling around all day... but so be it. This was just one of the days that I just watched her be free in her moment.
We sometimes just need to learn from our kids. We see our faults and or imperfections and try to hide them or become ashamed. Sometimes we focus on small things and fail to see the art or value in it.
It doesn't cross my mind anymore to ask her "what is wrong" with her and I try to limit my "changing" her if she has a different preference. I ask her opinion whenever I can give her an option.
There is beauty in our mess because everyone has mess, many of us have heard this. There are some things that money, marriage, or the right job can't solve.
We will be a work in progress for as long as we live. We all have quirks and things that we're a little more concerned about. One thing I wish all people did was always being open to learning... about themselves, in particular.
Little kids don't seem to have negative self-image until the people around them start pointing out their flaws. Truth is most of our flaws can be managed but at times we give them too much influence both mentally and via behavior.
As adults we become more aware of our flaws but the difference between us and little kids is we seem to let our imperfections stop us in our tracks more than they do (assuming the child is in a safe environment in the first place).
Sometimes I watch my daughter and reflect on how much of her reaction to things are influenced by how she has seen me react .
When she blows up at herself because she can't make something work it makes me more conscious that I shouldn't do that when I struggle or she will think it's okay.
When she says she hates something (or someone), it forces me to ensure that I frame the context of how she is using the word hate and make sure that she doesn't hear me using that word in relation to other people or things that are simply inconveniences.
We cannot shelter our children from all the bad in the world or keep them from sometimes doing bad things, but I am believer that as parents we should be their primary teachers.
My perspective is that my child should not be mainly taught by her care providers or YouTube videos when I am fully capable of being a positive example and carry the responsibility for her upbringing.
I also believe this works in reverse. My daughter has become a Litmus test for much of my choices or behaviors. Not only do I consider how the outcome of what I do or say has impact upon my child directly, I also factor in whether or not I would be happy or ashamed if she emulated me.
One of the main things I focus on now is teaching her positive direction over herself or a better way to respond to fear. It sucks it took me 30+ years to learn what I can begin showing her under five. And it doesn't mean you have to tell lies, just the truth in ways they can understand.
For example, at first she really didn't like thunder and lightening. She asked why God keeps doing things like that that scares her.
My explanation was that God designed the sky so that sometimes when the clouds play with each other, they make electricity and we hear them go "boom boom".
Later I picked her up from the sitter and it was about to storm. She told me she liked the thunder now because her Uncle Todd told her it was God's work and soon we would have more plants and trees because of the water.
Now I know that to some degree lightening has elements to fear but even children must learn there are two sides to most things. I realize that my kid has helped me tremendously with my communication with other people.
How often do you confront yourself in the most basic, simplest way as you would your child, relative, or family friend that you likely counsel? Why, as adults, do we allow ourselves to overthink and overanalyze?
How often do you modify your behavior or choices because you consider that you could be leading someone down the wrong road otherwise?
How much do you get better by wanting to show someone else how they can do better or be better? You may be reading this thinking I am solely talking about adolescent children but I mean younger people in general.
How much are you willing to grow from the teenager whose music or style you don't understand? What can you learn about yourself or about the world from that college kid heading down a career path you know nothing about?
We should be growing mentally and spiritually every day. We should be finding compassion, pushing past fears, operating through motivation and striving for transcendence as often as we get the chance.
Allow yourself to be elevated sometimes by those little rascals that sometimes need to be unleashed rather than controlled. Look at them through the eyes we once had, especially since now we know what we know!
It's not always about what you are passing down, it's also about what you are passing up. Valuable experiences don't only come from other adults.