When you have an open mind, you can learn from anyone. Two of my favorite teachers are my three-year-old grandson, Taylor, and his one-and-a-half-year-old brother, Teagan. Taylor is a very intelligent and loving little fellow; he is very sensitive to people’s feelings and moods and very adamant about everything being fair. Teagan charges into everything head-first in order to test an outcome; these are two totally different personalities, from two very special boys.
When I visit my daughter’s house, Taylor and Teagan run to the door to greet me. They can’t wait for me to greet the adults so they can grab my hand and pull me into Taylor’s bedroom. His bedroom is the hang-out. Everyone visits in there, on the floor. There, you are on their level, and in their fantasies.
When you are a parent, even a stay-at-home mom like I was, there are so many stressors. You worry about everything. Adults become consumed with the money, bills, time crunches, clothes, shoes, and material needs, besides wanting desperately to make sure we raise well-adjusted, happy kids that we sometimes get overwhelmed. Parents worry about what people think, how people perceive them, what people think of their kids and how they get treated. Try as I did, keeping up with six of them left me frazzled a lot of the time. They are grown now, and I cherish the closeness we still have, plus the addition of grandkids. I am one of the very fortunate people in this world who have a very special relationship with their grandchildren, and I love it.
As a Grandma, I play with, feed and tuck the boys into bed, and then I go home. My daughter and her husband take on all the worry, as the caring parents that they are. That’s what makes being a grandparent so relaxed, compared to being a parent. With my grandsons, we take our time, we talk, we wonder and we teach each other. My grandkids have remind me of things that are important; like the little things that get lost in all my busyness, things that adults need reminded of from time to time. Children live in the moment, when we are playing, that’s all that matters; they’re not thinking about what they’ll have for dinner or whether the dryer has stopped. If plans change, then oh, well, we’ll do it differently. I think I’ve learned more about slowing down and being content from them, than I have in the past years. The most recent lesson happened last weekend.
I took the boys to the farmer’s market with me to pick up a few things. It was a nice warm afternoon, so the street was crowded with people. We’d stop briefly to greet people and pet puppies, but they weren’t at all interested in vegetables. Thinking back, I don’t know if I would have been able to carry anything, we were all holding hands to keep us together. We were searching for a drink when we came across a man playing the accordion. The man was playing the kind of music you would expect to hear in a French Café. The boys were both mesmerized. They stopped in their tracks and just watched and listened. People would walk by and throw change into the man’s empty case and then continue on their way. Taylor looked at me and said, “I’m going to give this to that man.” He pulled out the money his mom gave him to buy her some popcorn and he put it in the man’s case. The fellow was very gracious and stopped playing to give Taylor a ‘high five’ and chat with him for a moment. Both boys were excited, and then ready to move on.
On the next street, we came across two men playing instruments; one had a washtub bass and the other a banjo. They were playing some very lively bluegrass tunes, and this time, Teagan took off dancing. Not just rocking back and forth, but totally absorbed in the music. This two-foot-high bundle of energy had his head down, both elbows alternately jacking toward the sky, knees bent, feet spread and stomping from one to the other. He didn’t care what anyone thought, who could see him, or what anyone would say. He just danced his little heart out. He seized a moment and made the most of it. That was total joy. I just stopped and sat on the pavement, clapped my hands and cheered him on. People would stop and smile, kids walking by saw what fun he was having and joined in, too. At one point, there must have been six other young kids all dancing together. If you know anything about toddlers, you know that most will mimic your moves if you dance, for about 5 seconds, and then they’re done. That’s why this struck me so deeply. He was on his own, feeling the music and flowing with it as if it was a totally natural thing to do.
Those are moments you can’t plan, they just happen once in a great while. But you have to be willing to interrupt your schedule to enjoy that moment. Don’t look at your watch, at people or any other distractions, just stop and live life. Without little interruptions like this, life is so tedious and demanding, that it drains us. I totally encourage this kind of spontaneity in my grandkids because I lack the confidence to be this free. It reminds me of the saying “Dance as though no one is watching.” Taylor, the older one, is a little shy, maybe a little more aware of things; he danced a little, then he hid behind me until the other kids joined in. Although he had fun, and we laughed and giggled, it was Teagan that was engulfed in the music. Then, I think Teagan wanted to thank the players for his great time, he must have remembered seeing his brother give the other musician money, because he knew just what to do. Before I realized what he was doing, he had taken the quarter out of his pocket, walked up to the bass player, smacked him on the knee and handed him the quarter. The fellow, again a great sport, gave him a ‘high five’, thanked him and then continued to play; Teagan continued to dance. That is another lesson straight from the heart of child: always take the opportunity to let people know that you appreciate them and their talents.