Life Lessons From a 2-Year-Old

After 2 years of trying to make sure I impart wisdom on my daughter, I realized that maybe it’s us grownups that should heed a word or two from the toddlers in our lives…

Setting the Stage

I have been blessed with an absolutely incredible daughter and I know all the goodness comes from my wife (brownie points).  She’s a two-and-a-half year old sweetheart, dancer, singer, easy going, self-entertained, polite, beautiful, funny princess that has me wrapped around her little finger and I never want to let go.  She spoils us and made parenting seem easy. We’ve got one on the way and everyone says the second one will be a polar opposite. We’re keeping our fingers crossed just in case.

She is my little Cinderella that never ceases to amaze me.  As she’s gotten older and more talkative (a trait she’s naturally gotten from both her grandfathers), I just had to put to paper the things I am remind of from her to better myself.

Ask “What’s her name?”

While in a store a few days ago with my wife and getting ready to leave, our daughter politely told the worker thank you. As she turned to leave the store she looks up at my wife and asks, “What’s her name?” She was speaking quite loudly so my wife quietly told her that we don’t know and that she should ask her. She asked, “Why?” I’m not sure if that was why should we ask people their names or why it should be her asking and not my wife, or somethings else. Regardless, I learned from my daughter that we need to take genuine interest in the people we encounter. Everyone is worth saying “hi” to and meeting them.

It’s strange that the social norms say we can spend a minute in an elevator with a fellow human and not say a single word. We can even sit next to someone for 5 hours on a plane without learning their name and be perfectly normal; maybe just throw in a “work or vacation” question after you’ve landed (so you don’t have to talk the entire flight) and you’re good.

I want my daughter’s mentality to be the social norm. We are all people living in the same world experiencing remarkably similar events and issues. I tend to lean slightly towards the introvert so acting on my daughter’s example isn’t the most fun part of my day. However, whenever I have taken the time to meet someone, I’ve always found something interesting about them that enlightens me in some way.

“If someone doesn’t seem interesting then you simply have not asked the right question yet.”

Learning from my daughter, I’ve made a point to always try to meet at least one stranger whenever I go on a work trip. Each time I’ve followed through on it, it has brought someone into my life that I can learn from. I’ve met presidents of companies, entrepreneurs, software developers, real-estate developers, and many more.

I remember a very specific time where the guy next to me on the plane seemed like a real jerk. I dreaded asking “What’s your name?” to him. But I followed through. I learned he was going through some rough family times and seemed to need to talk. After that was out of the way, he mentioned to me how he was developing an app. I was excited to hear that because I had just started a similar project myself. We ended up talking for about an hour and I learned a lot from him about our similar interests. I’m glad I said hi and I know my daughter was proud of me for asking. 🙂

Get to know your fellow humans…if you take the time you’ll learn something interesting each time you meet someone new.

Believe in the realization of imagination

“What do you want for Christmas?” we asked our daughter. “Umm, a pink and yellow castle that I can go in,” she would say. It didn’t matter where we were at or what was going on, this was always her answer. She would describe it to us in detail as if stood right in front of her. To be perfectly honest, my wife and I weren’t planning to spend $800 on a big playhouse so we planned on a little play castle for her dolls and figured that’d be good.

Our daughter didn’t miss a beat, though. She always added the “that I can go in” part. Some of my previous posts talk about how your thoughts control your life. My daughter seemed to be applying this principle. We looked for used playhouses but never found anything. She never stopped thinking and imagining this castle of hers.

All the way up to December 23rd, we didn’t have any castle for her. But, my in-laws happen to see one on Craigslist. Wouldn’t you know, it was pink and yellow, only $150, in perfect condition, and a mere 10 minutes away from us. I picked it up. She was thrilled on Christmas morning!

Everything real began as a dream. Up until age 7, our brains primarily generate theta waves which are characteristic of imagination and creativity. This is why kids can play pretend so easily. They literally see the imaginary objects in the physical realm. When you imagine something with incredible details, your brain goes to work to make it a reality.

Never stop dreaming. Never stop imagining. What’s your pink and yellow castle?

“The world becomes a stalemate when we exist only as realists.”

Politely persevere to procure

There is nothing more powerful than perseverance in this world. It’s incredible how a two year old can wear you down. I’m both extremely proud and scared that my daughter doesn’t like to take no for an answer. It’s easy as a parent to say no if your kid is being rude about something. However, when it turns in to a repeated, “Dad, can I pretty please have hot chocolate and cookies before bed, please, Dad?”…it’s hard to stay firm on their bed-time.

However, to caveat that, fortunately my daughter will eventually accept no…as long as we have rationalized it for her. Sometimes it takes some time but if we explain that she can’t have hot chocolate right before bed because she might wet her bed like a few nights ago, she’ll come around. That’s another important lesson for us all. Fight for what you want, but also consider other’s input and be willing to admit your fault if you learn you were wrong.

I had to throw “politely” into the header for this section. Even though aggressive or manipulative behavior may get you what you want in the short run, it is not sustainable. There are too many people that think they can boss people around but it never fails to backfire on them eventually.

“Always strive to find the win-win, be respectful, and see your influence grow!”

A joke a day keeps the willies away

Nearly every time we sit down for a meal, our daughter likes to say, “Hey Google, tell me a joke, please.” It doesn’t matter what we are talking about. It can be about some bad news from the doctor or some stressful family drama. Our daughter seems to like to remind us to never stop laughing. She has a favorite joke (What kind of shoes do ghosts wear? Boooooooots!) she loves to tell. But when that fails, she seeks out some assistance from Google.

Laughter is so beneficial for our health, it’s amazing that a pharmaceutical company hasn’t marketed it in a capsule for millions of dollars. It lowers blood pressure, dulls pain, alleviates stress, and even burns calories!

Our daughter’s ability to find humor in any situation is a great example for us all to remember the lighter side of life. The scene from Harry Potter comes to mind when they have to face a “Boggart”, the thing that takes the shape of what you fear most. To make it go away, you find humor in it. I think that’s a great lesson for life.

“Humor has an uncanny power to soften hard times.”

Tiredness feeds craziness

There is a fine line between sweet nap time and crazy hyper fuss time.

It is clearly evident when we’ve crossed over that line with toddlers. We can go from snuggling on the couch to a Hallmark movie to screaming because you asked if she was tired in a few seconds. The transformation is so extreme from the screaming prior to a nap to the happy and content sweetheart that it makes you wonder what’s going on in our brains when we get tired and don’t get enough sleep.

Naturally, as parents of toddlers, we get a full and uninterrupted 8 hours of sleep every night. Nevertheless, when those times come where we don’t, we need to prioritize getting some rest. We won’t always be able to but too often we sacrifice sleep to finish a few episodes of a show, catch up on social media, video games, etc.

Lately, I’ve been getting up pretty early to get some work done without sacrificing family time and then staying up later because thats the only time to just have with my wife…burning the candle at both ends. I thought it would be the best option, but after a while of doing that, I realized that tired family time is just about as valuable as no family time. So, lesson learned from my daughter, sleep needs to be prioritized so you can prioritize the rest of your life correctly.

“Love, laughter, and sleep…the three ingredients for a fulfilled life.”

Keep an open mind around your toddlers and you just might be surprised with some life lessons from them!

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