I’ve been with my nanny family for more than five years. Since the first days of kid number two’s life. I’ve watched them discover their world and learn to navigate their little lives. Part of the plan is that I’m there to guide them. But I got to thinking the other day that working with kids has actually taught me a ton of lessons as well.
Try, try and try again. Build a tower. Watch it fall. Do it again. Change a few things, do it again. I’ve watched kids do this over and over. But they keep building and keep trying. Even if they have completely unrealistic expectations that defy laws of physics… They keep in building that darn tower. I love that kids keep going with something when they really believe in it. And when they fail they just try it again. I’ve learned that sometime just trying isn’t enough. Trying again is sometimes just the trick.
To find a new perspective. I shuffle through the house all day on my feet…. Eye level for me is more than 5 feet in the air. Little ones see from a foot or two off the ground. I’m really only that low if I drop something. But sit on the floor like a kid… Doesn’t everything look different? Sometimes I realize things in a new way. How many times has one of the kids found something (on a bottom shelf or on the ground) that you never saw and brought it to you? In my grown up life I think a new perspective can do wonders. Whether I need to actually walk away from something and come back with a fresh perspective or if I need to take a deep breath and come at an idea in a new way… a new perspective can do wonders.
Ask “Why?” The “why?” stage is probably my least favorite stage. I think we all get really tired of answering and re-answering all of those inquisitions. I maintain my sanity by reminding myself that asking all of those questions is how a child learns. They are observing, reasoning, using those little noggins to grasp new concepts. I’ve started doing the same. I ask myself why I’m feeling a certain way. Or I’ll ask why I am making a certain choice. Sort of like giving myself a small second guess to keep me in check. Am I being practical? Are these feelings or choices founded in a good place? Why?
Dust the dirt off. We’ve all watched a kid stumble and fall. Usually the first thing they do is get up and dust off the dirt. Then they to right back to running along. So in life, when I take a stumble, and the occasional fall I try just think of it as a little playground dust on my pants and I shake it off. In the big picture I’m okay and I can go back to playing. After all, its just a little dirt.
Practice what I preach. Once upon a time Santa brought a sweet big wheel with casters as back wheels…Which meant it could spin in any which way. The 7 year old was pretty good at it. He could whip it in figure eights, do full 360’s and go again in reverse. But 27 year old nanny wanted to show him how it’s done. And I did… Without a helmet. And it crashed that sweet big wheel into a ditch and ended up underneath it. Um, ouch. I bruised my behind and my ego. And the first thing the 7 year old did was remind me that “that’s why we wear helmets!” Even still I’ll remind him to wear a helmet and he’ll remind me that I didn’t wear one. Next time I wait until the end of the street to buckle up, or I don’t have anything nice to say, I’ll be sure to take my own advice.
Take a compliment. So often when I get a compliment I discredit it with, “Oh but….(insert self doubt) ” Or deflect it off of myself and onto someone else. But if a playmate tells a kindergartner that he likes their shirt more often than not the response it a simple “Thanks.” I need to learn to really hear and accept a compliment. The self doubt and discrediting footnotes aren’t necessary. Nobody wants to hear that. Kids keep it simple and so should I.
Wait my turn/be patient. I tell kids all the time to wait their turn, or to be patient. I’m a broken record. But I can’t say I really am good at those things myself. I’ve tapped my toe impatiently in line at the grocery and hustled to beat my husband to the last of the coffee that was rightfully his. Not only am I not being patient, I’m setting a bad example for the kids. I think a big part of this is that I always am in a hurry for no particular reason. Maybe it makes me feel more efficient or like I’ve accomplished so much in a day. But along the way I’m impatient and probably look like I’m a giant ball of stress in a silly hurry. I see less hurry and stopping to smell the roses in my future.
Work hard, play harder. Everyday I tell the kids that their homework is first priority. If they get it done in a timely manner we have the rest of the day for fun. It makes a good after school routine for us and I like to think I’m teaching them good habits. In my own life I am a procrastinator. I’ll leave the least fun things (laundry, yard work, bills) for last. Yes, I go have fun first… But then that awesome fun bubble is burst by my not-so-fun stuff that I had left for last. I am trying to be better about just getting the not-so-fun stuff out of the way so the fun can start.
I’m sure there are so many more lessons I’ve learned from them. What have your charges taught you?