Archives For Toddler Teachings

Everyday when I get home before I can even close the front door Ladybug has usually thrown herself on me or is running full speed in my direction.

“Mommy, mommy, mommy,” she says laughing with her arms outstretched.

She runs up to me and jumps on me. If I don’t bend to pick her up soon enough she starts to pout calling my name more firmly. I have to assure her, “One second and then I’ll pick you up, I promise,” if I want to take my coat off.

She hugs me, she laughs and she hugs me some more. She is shining so full of love that it’s almost blinding.

What strikes me most about my Ladybug beyond how blessed I am to have her (and her siblings) is how openly and freely she shares her love. It’s not just with me, but with everyone.

She is a living and breathing embodiment of love. She is love.

She loves openly and freely without fear because that’s the way she was born into the world and she’s still young enough that she hasn’t been jaded, twisted or cracked as a result of sharing her love.

She is still connected to the Divine and sees everyone as a friend.

As an expression of her love Ladybug frequently wants to hug people.

She waves hello to everyone. She hugs other babies and kids at parks. It’s perfectly normal for her to go up to another child, look them in the eye and immediately hug them. Most kids hug her back or are completely caught off guard but don’t seem to mind. She hugs them for as long as she seems to feel they need it (or she needs it) and then she lets go and goes about her business.

She even tries to hug adults that she sees.

This past weekend she wanted to go from my arms to the arms of a woman standing next to us at Philz coffee shop. She put her hands out to the woman and launched herself into the woman’s arms before the woman could say anything.

The woman and I both looked at each other, uncomfortable.

“Well, hello,” the woman said to Ladybug eyeing me cautiously, as if I were a lioness that might bite her for coming too close to my cub.

I was hesitant but didn’t immediately pull Ladybug from her arms because Ladybug hugged the woman tighter and put her head on the woman’s shoulder. A real hug brimming with love.

The woman relaxed and so did I (though just a teensy bit). The woman thanked her for the hug and for the love and just held her while the woman and I made small talk. Then they called out my order and I told Ladybug it was time to go. She released the stranger, came willingly into my arms and told her new friend goodbye.

The woman still seemed dazed by the unexpected baby love-by as we walked out the door.

See, it’s natural to love and to be kind. Maybe Ladybug could sense that the woman needed a hug, or maybe the woman looked friendly, or maybe Ladybug was annoyed I wouldn’t let her grab things and throw them and she thought the woman might. Whatever the reason, Ladybug was unafraid and greeted a stranger with a hug.

There is something both profoundly moving and profoundly sad about that whole exchange.

The profoundly moving is the fact that the ability to love freely is something within all of us. It is still there inside you and inside me if we allow ourselves to access it. With every interaction we have with a stranger, we can choose to treat them like a long lost friend. We can treat them with kindness and an emotional hug of sorts.

(A baby jumping into the arms of a stranger is nonthreatening but an adult may doing the same thing may be met with a more hostile response. And possibly pepper spray so kindness should be thoughtful and respective of a person’s space.)

The profoundly sad part of the whole exchange is that, as a parent, I have to teach my child that she can’t just love and hug on every person she sees. Because some people are creeps, and that is the reality of the world we live in. Sometimes the expression of something so innocent and so natural is dangerous.

All “people can suck” lines of thinking aside Ladybug reminded me that loving is natural and now I’m reminding you.

It’s our natural state to perceive everyone with love and kindness; to treat everyone as if they were a brother. By simply smiling at people, expressing kindness and giving folks the benefit of the doubt we can slowly but surely heal the world.

The next time you’re in line at the coffee shop or Safeway or the post office, make like a baby and greet the people who are around you. Not only will you brighten their day but your own.

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Lovebug has discovered Yo Gabba Gabba!.

I’m not sure how or when or who’s bright idea it was to put it on…

Ok, ok… I admit it was me.

I needed a moment to think and to do something and even though I know the television is a horrible babysitter sometimes you do what you gotta do.

Lovebug had never really watched or seemed interested in any television shows so I figured it was safe and would maybe give me five minutes at the max to breathe.

As soon as she heard DJ Lance’s voice she was immediately drawn in.

She loved every song. She was clapping and shaking her little booty.

The “Dance” episode is her favorite.

It’s so much her favorite that she’s learned how to clap and sing one of the parts. She also knows that we can make it magically appear on the TV with the remote control.

She’ll come up to us and say “Dabba Dabba,” placing the remote in my hand. Well, she doesn’t really say it – her tone demands it almost.

If that doesn’t work she’ll plead, “Be-de-be-be-cwap-cwap” while tapping a rhythm on her legs, just like they do in that episode. And she’ll nudge the remote closer.

She has started to have full-on YGG meltdowns complete with sobbing.

“Dabba, Dabba,” she pleads in a tone that is so mournful and sad.

We can’t even say the words – Yo Gabba Gabba! – anymore. We have to call it YGG because if she’s not even thinking about it and hears the words she’ll take it as a suggestion.

On the one hand, sure it’s a little troubling that she’s so into it, on the other hand it’s really something that we (bigger folks) can take a lesson from.

Every time Lovebug watches the “Dance” episode, it’s as if she’s seeing it for the first time. Every time it makes her just as happy as it did the first time she watched it. She shrieks happy baby sounds and does the “jumping jellyfish” with the characters.

She knows “dancing’s easy, dancing’s fun, dancing’s here for everyone.”

She can watch it five times in a row with the same level of excitement. It doesn’t get old to her. Not because she doesn’t remember what happens in the episode because she does.

She knows the songs and the dance moves.

She sings to us, with her limited 21-month old vocabulary, the songs. She knows the cadence of the words, the melodies.

The older we get the more we’re exposed to new things. There is so much creation from new portable devices to blogs. There are so many new things to have, learn and to see that sometimes we forget to enjoy the old things.

The media is always telling us to get the next best thing. You have an iPhone 5, well in six months there will be in an iPhone 6 and it’ll be cooler and better than the phone you were so happy to get when you had it.

You need the latest most current everything, the media tells us. You need it.

We forget how we got goosebumps the first time we heard a song, read a line in a book, or that we shed tears the first time we saw a certain movie. We’re so busy moving onto the next thing that we may not even go back to appreciate the old thing again.

But for Lovebug, even though it’s the same ol’ Yo Gabba Gabba! video it still moves her because her mind isn’t thinking about the next or the newest.

Because mindfulness isn’t something she has to practice – it’s something she lives with every fiber of her being.

I challenge you to find a song that moved you the first time you heard it. That spoke to your soul but maybe you haven’t listened to it and maybe you’ve even forgotten about it until now.

I challenge you to listen to it and imagine that it’s the first time you’re hearing it. Listen to the nuances and allow it to touch your heart again.

It will because there was something there, something special that moved you the first time around. The magic isn’t lost just because it’s not new. Sometimes, it’s the age in things that makes them more special and that doesn’t just apply to wine.

If you don’t have a song then try a book, a movie… something you’ve loved the first time you saw/gheard/read it that you haven’t watched/read/listened to and do it again.

As if it were the first time.

Be fully present in the moment.

Sometimes I feel like my baby is my guru.

Watching her with even the littlest things gives me a new perspective. She is always reminding me to be fully present and enjoy what is right now. Through her, I am seeing so many things for the first time again.

What song moves you? Please share in the comments!

(The video below is one of mine.)

As a busy mom, it’s easy to get caught up on the everyday humdrum things. There is just so much to do!

When you throw together a handful of kids, a full-time job, chores and bills, and sleep deprivation – oh my! – it’s a lot for anyone to handle.

It’s no wonder that so many of us feel overwhelmed, overworked, undervalued and may not be enjoying our lives as much as we could be (and in all honesty were born to).

There are days when I’ve woken up and  thought, “It’s time to get up already,” “Work is going to suck,” “I’m sooooooooooo tired,” or immediately started crossing off the many things that I needed to get done that day.

Obviously, starting the day like that is not only bad for the psyche but pretty much assures that you’ll have a shitty day.

This is not the way to start a day, the way to live, and is in opposite of having a happy life. It is, however, quite possibly the quick road to depression, burnout and physical and emotional ails.

When Lovebug wakes up she’s pretty much always in a good mood.

Even if she hasn’t slept well, she opens her eyes with a smile, as if to say, “Hello world, I’m so happy to see you again! I am here and I am ready for you!”

She usually rolls over to hug me or pat “Dada” a loving good morning and often starts to clap. Sometimes she calls out for one of her sisters to tell them good morning too.

She is laughing and giggling and happy with joy that is pure. She is living in the moment.

Sure, her diaper may be soaking wet and if it’s been a really bad night her jammies too. She may have tossed and turned due to teething pain, or growing pains, or whatever. She may have fought going to sleep the night before, or had a not so hot day.

But she wakes up everyday with a smile.

In that moment, everything in her life is okay. It’s actually better than okay – it’s great because she woke up and it’s a new day!

She’s just so damn happy. Just to wake up.

Children truly are our teachers. They remind us of the little things, like the fact that waking up is something to be happy about.

Lovebug’s clapping reminds me that I should have gratitude for the day, for the moment, for the love that surrounds me.

Her laughter tells me that I should be mindful and live in the present because it’s a gift. (So cliche but so true!)

I don’t need to start worrying about all the things in the future that may or may not come to be, or immediately start focusing my attention (energy) on things that will be there later. In fact, I shouldn’t focus on those things.

Instead, she tells me to wake up and be happy just because I woke up.

With her sweet baby laughter she reminds me that a new day is reason enough for excitement.

And she’s right.

The great thing is that when you start your day with mindfulness, feeling fully present, you set your intention for the rest of the day. No matter what comes your way, even the not so fun crap that’s out of control like missing your train or burning breakfast or whatever, when you start the day the right way it’s easier to shake it off.

Since we are all energy it makes sense that what we put out we attract back into our lives.

By starting the day with a smile and goodness, you’re attracting positive energy back into your life. All “hippy woo-woo” talk aside, it really is true.

Not only that but it feels so much better than waking up feeling like Oscar the Grouch (even if your bed-head makes you look like him!).

There are a few things that you can do show yourself a little self-love and help get your day started out right:

Meditate

Before your feet touch the ground, take a moment to center yourself and just breathe in silence. I actually try to wake up before Lovebug so that I can have 20 minutes to meditate. I have been doing a Chakra Cleanse meditation (unguided a.k.a. free version) but there is also the mp3 guided version.

{There are lots of different guided meditations available for free on YouTube if you want something to help you along the process.}

When you meditate you’re not only clearing your mind and starting the day in a calm way, but you’re raising your unique energy field which helps you feel good, attract abundance in your life, and keeps toxic things and energy that you’d rather not have around from crashing your happy party.

{Before you tell me you can’t sit still, don’t have 20 minutes, or you can’t quiet your mind – TRY IT! I had a hard time in the beginning (and sometimes still do) but it gets easier with time and I always am happy and feel great afterwards.}

Give Thanks

Express gratitude for five good things in your life out loud or say them quietly to yourself. Write them down or thank the Universe, the One, God, Goddess or whatever higher power you believe in. By expressing gratitude for what you have, you’re welcoming more groovy vibes into to your life.

Cause we are the mirrors of our life, right? Whatever we’re putting out we get back.

Sun Salutation 

Now, I am a pretty newbie yogi but doing a simple Sun Salutation can help get your blood flowing and get your body singing. It’s also a good warm up before meditating so if you do this and then meditate you’re really setting yourself up to feel great.

Journal 

Keep a journal by your bed and write your first thoughts, your dreams, your intentions for the day, or anything you want. Take the moment for quiet reflection and allow your inner creativity or intuition to come to the front.

Listen to Your Favorite Jam 

If you have a song that just gets you going, throw it on while you shower or cook breakfast. Dance around while you get dressed. Feel the music. Feel the love!

Is there a lesson that you’ve learned from a child? Tell me about it in the comments! This is a place to share and learn from each other, so please get involved.