Be the change you wish to see in the world...

- Gandhi

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What You Can Learn From A 4 Year-old

Jake Dreyer portrait by Just Add Color Photography
2012 Just Add Color Photography

I recently received a compliment about my son, Jake.  He said "The special thing about Jake is that he wants to connect with you.  He's not just there next to you; he's with you."  I thought about that and realized how right he was, and how much I took that for granted about Jake.  My little guy is more thoughtful than most kids his age (so says the proud mother).  When he is in the room with you, he is all about on you.  He wants to know what you are thinking, what you want to do, and if you are happy.  This is special for a 4 year-old, during a stage when developmentally, kids this age are very egocentric.    

Jake knows a thing or two about connection and being in the moment - and he does it so lovingly and effortlessly.  It is part of who he is - and I suppose, part of just being 4.  It wasn't until I received this compliment recently that it dawned on me to take note.  So, here it is, my notes from Jake on making the most of the ones we are with... 

  • Focus.  I mean, really focus.  Look deep and lovingly in their eyes.  Shower them with smiles.  Jake does this beautifully.  
  • Repeat yourself until they answer you.  This sounds obnoxious, but it's not.  My little guy makes sure he's engaged with you.  If he asks you a question and you do not answer, he patiently continues to ask the question until you do answer.  He doesn't pull at your leg or keep tapping you.  He just calmly repeats the question until you provide an answer.  I marvel at his lack of awareness that I may be browsing on my phone or reading something at the time.  This is his time with me and he wants to hear what I am thinking. The repetitiveness jars me out of whatever less important thing I am doing and brings me back to being with him.
  • Be affectionate.  Connect physically, as much as anything else when you are with someone.  Jake deserves a prize for all of the loving he showers us with.  Put your hand on their hand as you talk (or play).  Sit close so part of your bodies are touching.  Give a hug.  Steal a kiss.  Life is too short not to show the ones we love how much we love them.
  • Express how you feel in the moment.  When Jake and I are playing, he'll stop in the middle, look up and say things like "Mommy, this is fun," or "I am happy," or "I like this."  Then, he'll ask me the reciprocal question ("Are you having fun?  Are you happy?  Do you like this?")  How great to spontaneously express oneself so joyfully and solicit those feelings in others.  It makes me giggle every time he does it.