Sticky hands and chubby cheeks, non-stop babbling, priceless gummy smiles, spit bubbles, serene faces with dropped jaws during long naps, 264,397 diaper changes, a hundred and one brightly colored toys to play with alternately (i.e. every twenty seconds): these are some snapshots of my first week in my new job as an assistant at an Infant Childcare Center. I never would have imagined that a week could be equally exhausting and rewarding. My six one-year olds are not only devastatingly adorable (I wish I could share pictures here); they remind me of some truths that time tends to fade in my mind which is supposedly gaining more knowledge and wisdom as I get older. Their simple but incredibly deep understanding (or learning) of life makes me wonder if maybe, just maybe, some of the most profound truths we learn are cemented in our minds before we take our first steps…
- Naps are extraordinarily restorative. Take them daily.
- When you are sad or upset, let the tears flow.
- When you are happy, laugh uncontrollably. Emotions are natural. Don’t be a stoic and suppress them under the guise of self-control or maturity.
- Never underestimate the power of a tight hug, whether for consolation or celebration.
- Sometimes, when you think you’re communicating something clearly, it just sounds like babbling to others. It’s okay. Just keep trying. They’ll understand eventually.
- The simplest things in life are often the best. Case in point: bubbles are infinitely more enjoyable than all those fancy toys you thought would bring the most happiness.
- Never lose the wonder of a good story. And don’t ever, ever become too sophisticated to appreciate Dr. Seuss. Whimsy and silliness are wonderful things and keep us from taking life too seriously.
Madeline L’Engle once said, “When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability…to be alive is to be vulnerable.” This seems to be the heart of what one year- olds teach: vulnerability–whether being honest with ourselves or others–is an inherent part of what it means to be human. That’s all I have for now. I suppose the longer I’m around these cuties, the more they’ll teach me. I’m excited to watch them grow and learn these lessons over and over again just like I am.