This morning, I was watching “Dora the Explorer” with my daughter. Not yet two years old, this beautiful child has been singing since before she could talk and dancing since before she could walk. It doesn’t matter what kind of music, or even how long it lasts, if she hears a beat or a note, she drops whatever she is doing to move to the rhythm. This morning was no different.
When one of the songs came on during the cartoon, she started singing. She didn’t know all of the words and given that she is not even two, she couldn’t even pronounce half of the words. It didn’t stop her. She hummed in perfect timing and pitch with the song! It was amazing- this girl just has an innate sense of music. I watched her closely and not knowing the words didn’t bother her in the least. Didn’t slow her or stop her in her tracks. She simply kept right on doing what she was doing and with a smile.
She will wiggler her little hips to a song, or twirl in circles on the carpet, or stretch her little hands to the sky as far as they will go, or walk around on her tippy-toes. Whatever the kind of dancing the moment calls for, she doesn’t hesitate to jump in and have fun! She has fun in just about everything she does.
My son recently turned four. He is the most creative kid I have ever met. Ever. He loves to sing and play with his guitar and keyboard. He plays drums on my bed and says “Daddy, this is a good rock and roll song”. Then he proceeds to make up a beat, strum his guitar and tap the piano keys, and make up his own lyrics! Let me tell you- the kid is talented. At bed time, we used to read a book every night. Lately, we started making up our own stories, usually at his prompt. He contributes, he is not just a passive listener but rather a very active and vocal participant.
He brings home projects from preschool. I picked him up early about two weeks ago and got to see him doing his color, cut and paste project. It was completely evident he was enjoying what he was doing. Creating. Learning and doing something new. I got to talking with his teacher and she mentioned his talent and affinity with numbers. How he can count to 100 and beyond and knows which numbers are larger and smaller than one hundred. When he doesn’t know- he asks. She commented that the work we are doing at home with numbers is clearly paying off. I commented that yes, we do talk numbers because he wants to talk numbers and that I was glad they were going over this in school because that was really paying off. She was confused- she said they are working on the letters of the alphabet and things that correspond to each letter but they haven’t delved into numbers yet (except basic counting).
I am not sure where he gained the interest of numbers (though his dad has an affinity for numbers as well), but it doesn’t matter. I was blown away that he took an interest in something new, something unfamiliar, and learned it almost entirely on his own at a level that is far beyond his age.
This might sounds like me bragging about my children (and maybe it is a little) but really, there are lessons to be learned. I certainly learned from these experiences with my toddler aged kids. What they taught me was that there is magic and power in creating and doing in the absence of fear. Kids don’t know fear. They know play. They know inquisitiveness. If fear enters their little thoughts, it doesn’t cause delay that is for sure. From them I learned that it is of the utmost significance that we enjoy what we do with our time and have fun and smile while we’re doing it. Not just because it makes life fun, but it also extinguishes the dangerous flames of stress. They taught me that curiosity leads to learning and that learning is a key ingredient to a wholesome life. My children show me that it is more than OK to jump in and do, even if you don’t know the words or exactly how to do it. And that if you do jump in and do without knowing all of the words, you won’t look silly or make a fool of yourself, rather you will find something wonderful waiting for you. Kids do it right. They live life right.
Maybe I knew some of these lessons before, but it really is easy to forget when life gets busy and there seems to be a never-ending list of things to get done and just not enough hours in the day. But watching my children play, seeing and feeling their magic—it has inspired me to live my life as a creator and someone who will keep moving forward even when fear is present and clearly competing for my attention.
When we enter adulthood, we often become entangled in the mindset and habits of paying the bills, working full time and then some, fixing whatever is wrong with the house, maintaining the lawn and the thousand other things that occupy the mind. The freedom and lightness with which we approached life in childhood seems lost in time. A lifetime ago. It doesn’t have to be. We can and should change our view of the world and our role in it and see things through the eyes of a child. I’m not saying abandon your responsibilities and quit your job, I am simply suggesting to experience the joy and wonder in what you do in life. Even if only for a little while each day. Just like a child does. Because after all- kids do it right.