Today I’m going to tell you four lessons I’m learning from my boys. They’re three and five, and in between legos and hot dogs and Netflix, they’re teaching me about what it means to be human.
Always run toward people you love.
For these boys, life is always the third act of a romantic commedy. Every reunion, even if it’s only been a few hours since last time I saw them, is a cinematically epic run into my arms.
When I pick them up from school, I watch until they spot me. They turn and wave, waiting a moment before breaking into a full toddler-sprint toward me, arms and lunch boxes flailing, blonde hair bouncing in their faces.
It’s a good thing, I think, to run toward people you love. Without words it says, “I AM SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU!” And what could be better than that?
Take time to snuggle.
The first words out of the three-year-old’s mouth every morning are always: “Daddy, you snuggle me?”
Sometimes it’s at dawn, just a few minutes before we need to get up and get ready for school. Other times it’s a few hours after midnight. But always, there he is, standing in the doorway of my room with his diaper and his blanket, ready for cuddles. The older one usually joins us too, a few minutes later, saying “Move over so I can snuggle you too.”
Naptime is the same way. We can read a book, find the stuffed animals, and argue about the terms of nap time, but they don’t want to go to sleep until I’m curled up on their little bed too, running my hands through their hair.
Tell people what you really think.
I’m getting ready to do a night-time dance-party 5k run tonight, and as part of the preparations I’m wearing a pink tutu and pink knee-high socks (obviously).
“How do I look?” I asked the five-year-old, thinking he’d be impressed (or at least amused).
“Dad, you do not look cool,” he replied. “You look stupid.”
Maybe I’m supposed to be offended. I’m not. I appreciate his real-talk. I know this is a guy who I can trust to give me no-bullshit feedback on my clothing choices — and other important decisions too.
I like that.
Feel your feelings.
There are a lot of tears in our house. There’s also lots of laughter, yelling, cheering, and a healthy amount of flailing on the the floor in utter despair.
My boys feel their feelings, all of them, so very much. And they express these feelings with all the energy in their little bodies. You never have to ask them if they’re happy or sad. They’ll never pretend like they’re ok when they’re not. The are absolutely one hundred percent in touch with their emotions, and very capable of expressing them.
Sometimes it gets annoying, sure. I don’t think that cherry yogurt (instead of strawberry yogurt) deserves a full-on meltdown. But you know what? These boys know how to feel their feelings. And that’s more than I can say for myself a lot of the time.
There’s a lot of advice out there about how to raise kids, how to prepare them to be healthy, functioning adults. As parents, we spend a lot of time and love trying to make sure we do it right.
But I never want to stop learning from my kids. I think they have a lot to teach me.
[ photo by Abi Busch ]
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