Sunday, July 11, 2010

Insights from a Four Year-Old

As I’ve been spending time in Ellensburg, WA this weekend I’ve been dazzled by my sister in the community theatre presentation of “The Pirates of Penzance,” and I’ve spent a lot of time with my four year-old niece Tiffany.

Tiffany is an interesting story in and of herself, but this precocious child is also one of the most articulate kids I know. Driving home from dinner Saturday she was having major self-recrimination issues because she couldn’t think of the word she wanted to use. If you’ve seen the YouTube video of the three year-old girl who is Justin Bieber’s biggest fan ( than you have a bit of an idea of the scene in the car – minus the tears. The word she couldn’t remember? RECOGNIZE. That’s right. We asked her to describe the word and she wouldn’t. We asked her what a synonym for the phantom word was and all she would say was, “Oh man! What is that word? Oh man!” My four year-old niece was beating herself up because she couldn’t remember the word RECOGNIZE so she could use it properly in a sentence.

Maybe you’re laughing at this story, because I know the adults in the car were during this experience, but how many times do we beat ourselves up over such miniscule and things that aren’t really important? To us, they are life and death, but in the big picture…do they really matter? To Tiffany, she was upset because she couldn’t remember the right word, albeit a pretty impressive word for a four year-old – but in the grand scheme of things it really wasn’t that big a deal.

Hanging out with this adorable little girl also reminded me how special kids are. A bundle of energy who talks a mile a minute, her positive perspective about life and unique viewpoint is a nice contrast to my sometimes pessimistic. She loves to pretend: Pretend I’m wearing purple, pretend I’m a dog, pretend you’re my mom, pretend I’m a raccoon, pretend I stole all your jewelry and you’re chasing me, etc. Usually happy and smiling, her ability to choose her outlook humbles me and reminds me that we are, ultimately, the deciders of our attitude. I decide if I’m happy, sad, mad, etc. No one else can make me feel that way unless I allow them. If I’m in a bad mood and I want to be happy, I have to pretend I am until it’s true.

Those are just a few of the many lessons I learned from a four year-old this weekend…and I also learned that a hug and kiss from a child is one of the sweetest you can get. Thanks Tiffany!


Julie said...

What a cute story! Kids are so perceptive and say the cutest things. It is true that we beat ourselves up over silly things. Just the other night Natalie fell asleep before I could change her diaper. She was sleeping soundly in her crib for 30 minutes before I remembered I forgot to change her (at least it was pee). I agonized over waking her up, or letting her sleep with a wet diaper. I decided to let her sleep, but then beat myself up over being a horrible mom who forgets simple thing like changing a diaper. But like you said it's all about our attitude and deciding to have a happy outcome instead of a negative one.

On a side note, I love your writing style and voice. You have a way of bringing simple things to life and relating them in a comfortable way. So jealous!

Patty Cady said...

Thanks Julie...and spoken like a true English teacher! :)