Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Things I’ve Learned

It feels like yesterday when these eyes looked up into mine for the first time. Innocence upon their faces. For eight years they taught me all about life. How to love, how to give, how to be selfless. I was given an education, worth more than rubies, and at the time I didn’t even know it. 

It all started as an innocent part time job. Little did I know a part time job would follow me through my senior year of college, a trip overseas, the death of my stepfather, graduate school, our engagement and then, our wedding. With our own little one on the way, it’s difficult not to reflect, to consider, just how they have shaped my thinking, my parenting, my life.

Little boys half grown have given much, more than they know, and in return I pray I have not left scars on their little hearts from my first ill attempts at care. At 3 and 1, I was thrown into Thomas and stuffed animals and at 5 and 3, another joined the family and a new chapter began, balancing requests and plenty of tears. A life I have always loved.

DSC_1373 (R & L @ 4 & 2)

So without further adieu, little lessons from a life I once knew.

1. Limited screen time can be a great thing

With little ones aging from the very young to age 11 when I left, these kiddos were allowed 30 minutes of screen time a day. What this meant for me; getting very creative in keeping said kids busy and happy. And I’m so grateful for this experience. Not only am I a more creative and on my toes mom-to-be, but they helped me embrace the importance of play, which my years in child development only solidified. There was rarely the opportunity to throw on a show when life became too chaotic and on the flip side, these three are some of the most creative and inventive kids I know. I want this for my own.

2. Unrealistic expectations breed disappointment

Actually the phrase above is one of my favorites but it’s from a dear friend from college. Regardless, the fact remained true. A great learning process though trial and error. The more you want your own way (adult) the more likely the children are to be stubborn, upset, and needy. Not sure if this always reigns true, but it sure did for these 3. Some quality time first, adult time second usually worked better. A great lesson in being selfless. Hope this comes in handy, especially in those first few months.

3. Experiences are perfect means for learning

Their mother was amazing. The things she knew and explained often left me scratching my head, relieved I did not have to answer that question. But they truly are little sponges, ready for anything you give them.  Truth is essential. We often went on little trips; walking to the park, the grocery store, along the creek, to the lake. Life around us provided hours of fun. From climbing on fallen trees to building cardboard chariots after reading about them. I learned that engaging in the fun was more enjoyable than watching from the sidelines. And in turn, I learned that comfortable clothing and shoes made for a more energetic and enthusiastic nanny.

DSC_1363 (the boys and I with their christmas gifts a few years ago)

I learned many more things; how to clean up vomit without making a bigger mess, how to best change a top bunk sheet, and how to incorporate real life without missing out on the preciousness of playing with a child. I became very efficient in my other tasks so I could delve into the world of Thomas or watch an imaginary dolphin show. And I did because of what it did to the hearts of those little three. Life is short, things do need to get done, and as an introvert, I fully believe in the need for time away. But there’s nothing like laying on the floor with minds in the world of make believe.

I pray for the days of enjoying these moments with our own little one, long awaited for moments in time. As difficult as the waiting was, it was worth it, because if not for it, precious knowledge would have not been gained.

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