Seven Life Lessons I Learned From a One-Year Old
Proverbs 1:5 “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel . . .”
As you grow older life becomes more and more complicated. A prudent man or woman will take to heart wise counsel from those with greater experience. But sometimes it takes a one-year-old to help you push pause and relearn some simple life lessons. When you listen carefully and follow through you’ll find life becomes a little more enjoyable and a lot more satisfying.
It was another busy week – work schedules, meetings, deadlines – all as usual pushed me to the brink of exhaustion and my sanity. Then Ruby stepped into the picture!
Wednesday afternoon, after a nine-month wait, Luke took Brianna to the hospital. One-year old Ruby came to Nana’s house to await the arrival of a new baby sister. And I stepped out of my busy, crazy life and back into time. Déjà vu took over as I relived the days of caring for a toddler. I had forgotten about the uncomplicated moments of small but essential things. Somehow all the busyness of important stuff had sapped my joy. It took a one-year old to slow my whirlwind dash for accomplishment enough to rediscover the wonder and delight of the simple life. In just a few short days I was reminded of several important life lessons.
- Live in the moment – stop everything to experience the things you enjoy.
So often I sacrifice small pleasures to the god of accomplishment. The afternoon was waning and dinner needed preparation. But Ruby heard Apache outside barking. She didn’t seem to care that dinner hour was approaching. She wanted to see the “Arf Arf.” So reluctantly I set aside the unchopped vegetables, picked her up, and together we stood at the window watching, barking, and giggling at the silly doggy’s antics. It wasn’t until later I realized the release and joy of putting aside needful tasks to just “be in the moment.” We ate dinner just a little later than planned, but my heart was peaceful and nobody starved.
- Eat slowly and dip every nugget into the sauce more than once.
I have a bad habit of eating fast. I never could get the hang of my grandfather’s advice of “32 chews.” Instead I gulp and swallow so I can get on to the next thing. Ruby isn’t like that. Abigail and I took her to a favorite local haunt for lunch on Valentine’s Day. She savored every bite, dipping each chicken finger and French fry into the sauce multiple times. Long after we were finished eating, Ruby was still dipping and enjoying. The slow pace gave more time for talking and observing the other guests around us. What was the big rush anyway?
- Sing along even when you can’t keep the tune.
Why do adults become so self-conscious? We don’t ever want to mess up or look silly, so we often shut down. In doing so we lose many opportunities to join in fun. On the way home from lunch, Abigail and I spontaneously started singing songs from last year’s high school musical. Suddenly from the back seat we heard Ruby singing along with us. She had no idea of the words or the tune but she didn’t want to be left out. Her sweet voice brought huge smiles to our faces and warmth to our hearts.
- Take a nap when you need one.
Our success driven culture rarely sleeps. We think somehow that going to bed late and getting up early will give us more time to achieve big things. Instead there are a lot of tired and grumpy people clawing their way through each day. Wouldn’t it be so much better to do what Ruby does? She goes to bed at a decent hour and then takes a nap when she needs one. If adults did this there would be a whole lot more nice people in the world and we might even accomplish more with our minds clear and rested.
- Learn peoples’ names and say them over and over.
Ruby doesn’t say a lot of words yet. She loves to talk, but her vocabulary is limited. That doesn’t stop her. She has learned the names of those she loves and says them over and over. I will never get tired of hearing her say, “Nana.” It makes me feel loved and wanted. All people need this. They want to know they are thought of and significant. As adults we also should learn people’s names and use them over and over.
- Laugh a lot. It does the heart good!
Somewhere in the journey to adulthood people often lose their sense of humor. We become so serious and businesslike that we miss laughable moments including the benefits that come from them. Ruby giggles constantly. Belly kisses, funny faces, and silly games all produce chuckles. If only adults could break out into uncontrollable belly laughs more often we would be so much happier and healthier.
- Open all the drawers and explore. You never know what you will find.
I have become very predictable. I go to the same restaurants, take the same roads to places I visit, and generally stay in my patterns of daily living. But Ruby showed me the joy of exploration. She opened the drawers in my desk, my hall cabinet, and bathroom and was thrilled with the things she found. And believe it or not, she discovered some things I had forgotten about or thought I had lost. Maybe it would be a good idea for me to break out from my comfort zone and try something new. I might just find joy beyond the borders of my usual routine.
Before I could snap my fingers it was time to take Ruby home. Baby Lilly Anne needed her big sister to teach her all about the world she had just entered. But this Nana had learned a few things too. Life is not all about the hustle and bustle of accomplishment. Sometimes you have to hit pause and slow down. A wise man or woman can look through the eyes of a one-year old and relearn important life lessons. When you do you will discover there is joy and satisfaction in the simple life.