What the young can teach

I’m in the middle of setting up a mentoring program through work and one of my guiding values in creating the program is that mentoring is a two-way relationship.  The pairing of mentor and ‘mentee’ shouldn’t just be about the older person sharing their wisdom with the younger one because they, too, have a lot they can teach.

It’s funny then that I hadn’t really applied this same thinking to my own family life.  At home, I’m the parent to a toddler and I would have said at first ‘tell’ that I’m the one running the show.  I’m decades older than her so doesn’t it just go with the territory that I would be the one teaching her all about life?  Well, it occurred to me the other day that I still have a few things to learn.  Don’t worry though – Chelsea is bringing me up to speed.

My daughter helps me to do the things that I’ve always wanted to do.  You know, I live in a coastal city but in the three years before Chelsea was born how many times do you think I’d actually made it down to the beach?  (I mean actually walk on the sand.)  The answer is probably once or never, I can’t remember, but both answers are appalling.  Now, though, our little family takes the time to frolic on the beach here and there and enjoy being near the water.  We also now go to parades and parks, two more things that I hadn’t really done much of before my daughter came on the scene.

Chelsea also helps me to do things that bring out the kid in me.  In the last month alone we’ve:  made a wish on a penny and thrown it in a fountain; walked on a retaining wall; run wildly through a park; played catch; skipped; played peek-a-boo; made a “fort” in the living room with a blanket thrown over the couch; taken silly pictures of ourselves; brushed baby goats; exclaimed over vibrant flowers growing in a community garden; dug for worms; gone down a long slide together, and … the list goes on.  I mean when does any other “normal” adult get to do those things?  With her at my side, I’m recapturing what it means to be so very young and so easily entertained by the smallest things.  It’s wonderful.

So here I sit, revelling in all the simple things that my little girl can teach me at the ripe old age of two.  Simple things that can add up to so much – a life lived more fully perhaps.  Tonight I’m wishing for myself that I will always remain open to what she knows for sure:  that the world is a wondrous place full of infinite possibilities.

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