This I Believe

Katy - Jacksonville, North Carolina
Entered on May 4, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe in the possibility of learning life lessons from my three year old.

Last week my husband and I were in the midst of a heated argument revolving around the logistics of running our weekend errands. As it sometimes happens, we became slightly irrational about such a trivial topic. After watching us argue for a few moments, Zoe, our three-year-old, turned to face me, shrugged her shoulders and, assuming it was acceptable to copy her parents’ behavior, said “Fine. Whatever, Mom. Fine. Whatever.” As I fought to contain my laughter and explain why her words were inappropriate, I realized how ridiculous my husband and I sounded and how juvenile the entire argument was.

Zoe has a talent for keeping me humble by repeating what I say. This happens often enough, that I am almost convinced the purpose of a preschooler’s mimicking phase is to allow parents a mirror into their own, often absurd, behavior. My own mother will be happy to know that I have finally learned the lesson she attempted to teach me for years; four letter words are offensive and make people sound unintelligent instead of cool. This was learned after several embarrassing public “lessons” in which Zoe loudly repeated my choice phrase of frustration, allowing me to hear with my own ears the crudeness of the language while also experiencing the icy stares of disapproving bystanders. I have seen the error of my ways. Of course, humility is just one of the lessons I have had the pleasure of learning from our three-year-old.

There are many times Zoe has shown me how to enjoy the simple things in life. Engrossed in one of many household chores, I opened my mouth to scold her for knocking over the crisply stacked pile of clothes I just finished folding, but paused when I heard her bellow “Look, Mom, the room is spinning!” The sparkle in her eyes and her goofy grin eclipsed my concern for neatly folded clothing and seconds later I found myself giggling and spinning around the room too.

I have learned to place less value on material objects as a result of several permanent stains, a sandwich filled VCR, an incident with scissors, and the inevitable writing on the wall. I have learned that I am not the center of the universe as I originally assumed, that a traffic jam is the perfect time to sing silly songs (not mumble unpleasant epithets under my breath), and that I need a little more work in the patience department.

I believe that there are lessons everywhere if we open our eyes to see them. I believe that three year olds succeed in opening even the most tightly shut eyes with their intense, disarming honesty. Thanks to Zoe, I know that nothing is more important than slowing down, hugging my children, and laughing at myself.