It sometimes feels like as parents we are so obsessed with teaching our children things. Teaching them to eat, to sleep, to sit, to walk, and then how to jump and dance and sing... then read, write, count! It's a seemingly never-ending list of skills that we have the responsibility to impart. As the grown ups we are expected to lead by example, to show them how and to pass on the things we've learned over the years to a new generation. To teach our children how to grow up to be bright and polite and kind.
But lately I've been thinking about all the things that I have and could learn from my children. And the more I think about it, the more I think that actually I would rather live in a world full of people like them. I honestly wish that more people looked at the world, and really saw things in the way that my children do... myself included.
Because I'm not sure when it happens that you stop noticing all the tiniest details of the world, but it seems to happen somewhere on the journey between childhood and adulthood. And that makes me so sad. I think as adults go, that I am pretty good at looking for the beauty in the ordinary and appreciating the simplest pleasures of life. I definitely look for the good and gorgeous as I go through my life. But my children completely put me to shame. Because as an adult it's something that I have to "switch on", but they just do it without even thinking.
Recently I popped into the supermarket with my son, and upon seeing the massive display of flowers right inside the door, he asked if he could get me some as a present. I laughed, said what a lovely idea that was but tried to explain that it wasn't really a present if I was buying it myself, and it was okay because I didn't really need any flowers. But then his bottom lip looked like it might wobble, his eyes looked up at me suddenly very big and very round, and he said "But can I get some for you anyway, because I really want to, because you love flowers." I felt a little lump rise up in my throat. No I didn't need flowers, but who ever needs flowers? So I let him. And once I had agreed he pondered the flowers for ages, saying that he wanted to get yellow ones and blue ones and white ones, because those are my favourite colours. He had remembered my favourite colours, remembered that I love flowers, and just wanted to pick out the perfect ones to make my day... I mean, honestly... couldn't we all learn so much from that simple act of kindness? Yes, I may have paid for them, but those flowers were 100% from his heart to mine.
And he didn't stop there, because since getting the flowers home he has told me several times to stop whatever I'm doing and come and smell the flowers with him. We have been legitimately, actually, properly "stopping to smell the flowers"... how awesome is that?
My beautiful girl was walking hand in hand with me on the school run the other day, when she stopped in her tracks, looked up at the sky and said "Hello Mr Sunshine" followed by "Isn't it a beautiful day Mummy?"... I mean, seriously... where did these adorable little creatures come from? Because I was so busy thinking about the housework I needed to do when I got home, about getting across the road to drop her at preschool, about the fact that my hands were a bit cold, that I just hadn't noticed the big, bright blue sky. And she had. And I'm so glad that in that moment she made me take notice.
He noticed a cloud shaped like an elephant. She noticed a slightly strange coloured duck. He noticed a perfect dandelion clock in a whole field of wild flowers. She noticed a piece of seaglass in a whole beach full of shells. And they notice these things because they are looking. All the time. Really looking. Not just paying lip service to the idea. But properly looking. And seeing. And noticing.
This kind of mindset isn't reserved for my big two either. Because while my littlest lady may not be talking or even understanding things yet, she stares at the world with such big wide eyes, she takes big deep breaths of blustery wind and then smiles about it, she kicks and wriggles with glee when her toes hit the bath water. Beauty is all around her. Wonder is all around her. And she sees it. And seeing the world alongside her really makes me see that too.
It really never ceases to amaze me the things that my children notice that I take for granted. The moon is a big one. My space obsessed children spot the moon all. the. time. They notice it's shape. They talk about why they can see it in the day sometimes. Or they talk about why it is that they don't always see it at night. They look for stars on late night car journeys, they look for Venus too. They try and count the stars, and they ask questions about them that I, nor I'm sure anyone else on this planet, could ever fully answer.
Have you looked at the sky lately? The day time sky or the night time sky? Because when I'm with my kids, and I look at the sky with them... well, it kind of blows my mind.
It reminds me of that quote, "While we are busy teaching our children all about life, they are teaching us what life is all about." How incredibly true is that? Because becoming a parent complicates your life in so many ways, but it also simplifies it so much too.
And that is why as long as I live, whatever I achieve, I will never do anything as amazing as I already have in creating these little marvels. And I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I'm determined to help them hold on to their inquisitive minds, their abilities to notice, and their joy in the simplest of things. Because I have learned so much from the way that they look at the world. And while I obviously want them to grow up to be amazing adults, I'd also like to grow down to be a little bit more like them too. Because seeing the world through their eyes, it's a totally magical place.