Children can teach us life’s lessons

“Mom . . .Mom. . .Mo-o-om. . . I gots to tell you sumthin’. It’s really, really important,” insists my 4-year-old, interjecting himself into my concentration.

He is so excited that I presume this must be something critical. I cannot afford to miss out on such an insistent message. Perhaps his little sister stripped naked and ran out into the yard again?

Stop to listen. So I stop what I am doing, losing, perhaps forever, the train of thought that was going to speed me to my Pulitzer Prize winning work.

I bend low to hear him better. I am a portrait of maternal devotion and concentration even as within I’m thinking “c’mon kid, make it quick, I’ve got a deadline here.”

Nearly shaking with eagerness, he leans close, presses his lips to my ear, and whispers with enthusiasm, “mom, chickens can’t swim!”

Personally, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. So I’ll write a prize winner some other time.

To my own beloved small boy it was astonishing that despite their similarities, a chicken was not a duck. It takes a child to bring you that kind of excitement in the ordinary.

On victory. In the past the allure of miniature golf was lost on me. I would get my club and my little colored ball and I would trudge around wacking it into the little windmill and the clown’s mouth like a good sport but honestly, I just didn’t see the point.

There was no award. No ceremony. No valuable cash prize at the end. Why waste the time?

Now that I have children I adore the silliness, wallow in the futility, and enjoy the sheer comedy of playing.

When a child actually gets the ball in the little cup after numerous tries he will inevitably crow “I Win! I Win!” and leap around with more fervor than Tiger at the Masters.

It’s a ball (a blue one into a windmill to be exact) to watch a child master this otherwise inane game. It may have taken 76 strokes, but the experience is still the checkered flag, the Triple Crown and the Nobel Prize all rolled up into one.

From this we might remember that we could all stand to prioritize the process over the prize now and then. Getting there really should be half the fun.

On relationships. As adults I think most of us suffer the tendency to try and mold our relationships into what we want them to be rather than accepting them for what they are.

This quest for perfection leads to endless frustration and too many failed relationships. We become angry at loved ones for not being what we want them to be. For daring, in essence, to be what they are.

Meanwhile, a child will tell you with complete aplomb “he is my friend, except sometimes, when he’s not.” It doesn’t get more basic than that in accepting the ebb and flow of your average friendship.

Or, as my son recently said about a playmate’s promotion to “big sister” upon the birth of her family’s new baby, “She has a new baby just like when we had a baby sister and I was very very happy! But now our baby got big and she bites. I’m not so happy anymore.”

Sage advice from the under 5 set. Sometimes, my friends, love hurts.

Worth. And no one, and I do mean, no one over the age of 6 seems to get excited about a penny anymore. Yet, to a child, there is no sum too small to be handed over to the collection in a devoted little fist come Sunday morning.

In that light, even our lowly pennies can shine again. The same goes double for dandelions. There is no more beautiful bouquet than a fistful of dandelions from a child. It is the heart of a gift, not the value, that truly matters.

There are lessons in every facet of life if we choose to really see what we’ve learned to take for granted all these years.

Learning lessons. Winning isn’t everything. Your relationships cannot define you. Dandelions are flowers, too. It is your worth as a person, not the worth in your wallet, that really matters.

If you take the time to really experience life through the eyes of a child, to stop, bend low, and really and truly listen, you too just might learn a lot from a chicken.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt has learned a lot about dandelion bouquets and chickens since having children and values every lesson. She welcomes reader input c/o kseabolt@epohi.com or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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