15 August 2011

Three Things My Toddler Taught Me at Fest


At the time of Fest this year, we were bracing for a whole new world. She was mobile, and (somewhat) talking, and developing many of her own ideas on how life should be lived and how it should treat her. Little did I know how much she was going to show Papi!
MichFest is amazing event with women from all over the globe. This is our second year with the baby and let me tell you, it was a whole new fest. She kept me laughing and smiling and glad we had a wagon for all the crap (but ironically, very rarely a baby!) She also caused me to reflect on the 8 hour drive home.

1. It's OK to want more Popsicles
She discovered a love of Popsicles about six months ago when she started getting her two-year molars. At home we have tried big ones, mini ones, fruity ones, and even homemade ones. Sometimes she is asking for them before I can even get breakfast on the table. I always laugh when she eats the first one, turns to me, and says "More now!" One would think her mouth would be frozen! However, if I were a betting person, I would bet on one never being enough.

At Fest I got to spend a great deal of time watching and learning and thinking. One of the things that began to stick out to me is a child's willingness to ask for what they want. "More now!" When she finished a protein bar she liked, she would ask "More now!" When she finished the food she liked, she would ask, "More now!" When she finished a drink she like, she would ask, "More now!" And of course, when she finished her Popscicle, she would ask "More now!"

I think it's a healthy attitude to ask for more of what we want. When the day was beautiful and the weather amazing, "More now!" seems a great idea! After a TV show that made you laugh and feel good all over, "More now!" seems ideal! When the kids are willing to hang with you for the afternoon, or you are able to give them quality time, "More now!" is the best.

I think it's OK to want "More now!"

2. It's OK to be mad when they tear down camp
For 7 days and 6 nights we live in our tent. It's home for the week. Your clothes are there, your bed is there, it is your safety during the thunderstorm and it protects you from the bugs and animals of the night. We bring home-like items as well, such as books, night lights, bedside tables, and stuffed animals. (Even the baby brought a stuffed animal this year!) Each night, after all the activities are done, you make your way back in the dark to the safety of your tent for some wonderful sleep in the outdoors. Each morning you wake as the sun starts to shine on your tent. And on occasion, you lay awake at night listening to the pounding rain of a quick passing thunderstorm. It becomes your anchor.

And then Monday morning rolls around and what was your home-away-from home gets stripped of its decorative flags, and bedding, clothes, and stuffed animals get packed away. Everything is put back into bags and car-top carriers, and loaded onto the wagon and then all of it is packed into one van to be unloaded and packed into your van. It's without ceremony or excitement. The week is over and a long drive awaits. And while I carried a screaming baby around, trying to explain what was happening and that Momma wasn't available for nursing at the moment, I had a flash of insight: It's really OK to be mad at something you don't understand especially if it is damaging what you deem as your safety zone.

There was no amount of juice or suckers or cookies or women that was going to make tearing down camp feel good to her. What she had known as normal for the last week was being uprooted. Soon there was nothing but an open space with grass that was flattened in rectangular shapes. And as she looked around at the pile of belongings we had, and the tired and hot people who had created that pile, the only way she felt comfort was to crawl up in my lap and snuggle...because I felt normal and safe in the middle of the chaos.

It's OK to feel angry when your world changes.

3. It's OK to flirt if you are sincere
I will admit, this is my favorite lesson from the week. My little blonde, blue-eyed baby seemed to steal the hearts of many a beautiful woman at Fest. They would talk with her at random times, they would cross the street to say "hi" to her, they blew bubbles with her, they danced with her, and they followed her around smiling and being happy. And that amazing little kid of mine flirted in such a way to put Don Quixote to shame!! She would bat her eyes, or look out of the corner of her eyes, or smile a huge smile, or stop and talk, or even just wave. Everyone around her was pulled into her magnet of joy and good feelings.

As I watched her flirting with a particularly lovely woman, I realized that her secret was in the fact that she was completely sincere in her flirting. She wasn't doing it for attention because her actions were all after someone had approached her. She never promised anything she couldn't deliver. She didn't smile to make someone else feel better. She did all those things because that is her nature...she was in a good space and wanted to share it with the people who came around. I watched her technique as she ran up to three complete strangers to tell them about the baby that just went by in a stroller! They watched her, and talked to her, and smiled with her, and everyone walked away from that conversation in a slightly better mood. It was amazing. It made me proud to be her Papi!

It's OK to flirt with the people who cross your path, especially if you are sincere and are merely wanting to share your happiness with them
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Hopefully you have had some wonderful experiences this summer as you spent time with friends, family, coworkers, and others in your life.

What is one life lesson you learned this summer from a loved one?