They say the best way to learn a subject is to teach it. I don’t think that’s more true than the parent-child relationship when it comes to learning about life. For some reason my son and I have had a lot of life lesson chats lately. Here’s what I have learned from him:
1) Self control: If you eat all the garlic bread because “it tastes so good”, 1) there will be none left when you want some tomorrow, and 2) your tummy will hurt. As I tell him that he can only have 3 pieces of the garlic bread, I am reminded of all the times I should have just stopped while I was ahead….before that 4th candy bar or 4th glass of wine or … you get the point. As I teach him about self-control, I’m reminded I should exercise it as well.
2) As long as you like yourself, that’s all that matters: “Mommy, do you like my artwork?” “Mommy, do you like my hair?” “Mommy, some people at school don’t like me.” My response is always, “Do you like you/your hair/your artwork? That’s really all that matters. Are you a person that you would like? Do you have a good heart that Jesus would like?” That last question brought tears from my little man for some reason. He couldn’t articulate why so we just hugged and I told him that I loved him. What matters most to you, what makes it easy to look at yourself in the mirror, what makes you proud should be all that counts.
3) It doesn’t have to be perfect: My son doesn’t like to do something unless it’s going to turn out perfect. “I’m no good at karate. I don’t want to go.” It’s not ever going to be perfect. Your best is good enough. That’s true for all of us. I’m reading this great book that my stepmom gave me and it said “It is impossible to appreciate a good situation when one’s focus is on the illusion of perfection.” You’re going to continue to be mediocre at karate (or whatever it is) if you give up and don’t figure out how you can be better. That applies to just about everything in life…relationships, weight loss, cooking, painting, work…you name it. That’s why candid photos are sometimes the best because they show life as it actually is, not some perfect version with everyone posed and sucking in their gut.
It’s not going to be the romantic comedy or Disney movie that you watch on TV. It’s real life and that’s what makes it so great. You create your own imperfect future with laughs and tears and stretch marks and smiles and bumps in the road all the while making you smarter and stronger hopefully.
What have your kids taught you?