Wisdom from a 1-year old: What my son retaught me about living
When taking on the role of a stay-at-home dad to Jack, my one-year-old I made a commitment: I would apply myself fully as his primary carer, mentor, and of course coach. His example of how to ‘do’ life.
After 16 months in the role, I’ve been reflecting not only on the ways I’ve nurtured and guided him, but also on his impact on me. If I’ve taught Jack how to ‘do’ life, he has very much been reconnecting me with how to ‘be’ with life. What an unexpected gift.
Below are some of the learnings or should I call them re-learnings from my experience:
Jack can be left fulfilled and infatuated by the most simple of things. A tennis ball or cardboard box can provide hours of engagement. As an adult, I now recognise the times I’ve overcomplicated straightforward objectives, tried to over plan instead of simply showing up, being clear, putting one foot in front of the other, and getting it done.
The learning: Keep it simple…simple!
Authenticity and truth
Jack does not hide how he feels. He is straightforward, direct, and often loud. From a situational perspective this isn’t always ideal (no parent is a fan of a toddler meltdown in Sainsbury’s).
There is, however, no mask-wearing or game playing. No time-draining confusion, arguments, and inevitable fall out. Jacks honest, direct communication means we can be clear on the matter, negotiate, and efficiently move on.
The learning: Truth and authenticity always work out better in the long term.
Play and learning
Jack learns instinctively and he learns fast! His approach isn’t forcing himself through structured exercises, instead with minimal structure (e.g. the boundaries of the sandpit) he simply plays, explores, and gets creative.
Learning, instead of being robotic, becomes an engaging and fun affair and the propensity for maintaining new knowledge and mastering new skills significantly increased.
The learning: Keep agenda and structure minimal. Leaning space for creativity, fun, and seeing what shows up.
Jack needs a significant amount of shut-eye. In general, an 11-hour nighttime stretch and a two-hour nap during the day, for good measure. He is actually asleep more than he's awake. Vital kip too.
At this stage with the rate he is growing, both physically and mentally, he rightfully demands significant rest. However, what he will not do is gun a strong coffee and push on through unlike his adult dad or work through the night to improve his ‘lego’ game. Jack responds to what his body is telling him.
The learning: Make the early night and afternoon nap a staple part of the sleep diet.
Jack operates in blissful ‘being’ mode all of the time. He isn’t worried about the fact that he pooed himself sitting by the swimming pool yesterday, or the fact he has his first set of jabs at the doctors' tomorrow. He is simply here all of the time - completely immersed in every moment. In the now.
His magic is infectious amongst adults. Walking into a coffee shop I’ve seen firsthand the impact of his presence on strangers: heads turning as they tune out the mental buzz of their neocortex for a few seconds to ‘be’ with guru Jack. This final lesson has been the most powerful lesson of all:
The learning: The real magic is always in the ‘present’ - right now!
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