I’ll be honest with you: when I was preparing to become a father, I had this image of myself handing out life lessons right and left. I imagined myself being this wise man with deep thoughts and ideas for my children that would mold them into incredible beings, perhaps one day reaching my great heights.
Well, my daughter is 16 months old, and although I haven’t been able to teach her so much yet, what with her inability to speak/listen, I’ve become distinctly aware that my imagination was way off.
The truth is, my daughter has taught me so much more in her little 16 months of existence than I will probably ever teach her over the rest of my life. She’s just awesome like that.
What did she teach me? Let’s start from the top.
I tell you, when I was lazing on my couch watching Netflix the last year, it was pretty intimidating to watch my daughter. First it was crawling. Every day, for months and months, shortly after coming into the freaking world, this little ball of energy was wagging her legs and arms, trying desperately to get moving. For months, the poor thing couldn’t do much more than get a workout. She just didn’t have the muscles.
If I was in her place, I would have said “screw it,” asked for my bottle back, and chilled. She was living in a world where everything was provided for her. Fresh milk, a sweet mom, and nonstop swaddles. Who the hell cares about crawling when you’re hooked up like that? My daughter, that’s who.
Then she started crawling. A person who went from literally being unable to move herself to scuttling across a room, and it took her just half a year or something. And she wasn’t happy with that! She immediately started trying to stand up, trying to walk. That’s persistence, man, and I never wanted to get off Netflix more in my life.
Didn’t work, though.
How To Be Happy
There is nothing quite like coming home from a long day of work to a daughter that squeals at your arrival and rushes over to give you a hug.
See, we live in this world where we’re focused only on ourselves. We think about how much our day sucked, how we are giving giving giving, how things could be so much better.
And sometimes all those worries stop us from realizing the immense amount of beauty around us.
I guarantee you that every day, my daughter works much harder, and deals with much more difficulties than me. She’s trying to learn how to speak, how to freaking go from not saying a word but babbles, to speaking an entire language. About once an hour, she slips and bumps her butt or her head. She’s dependent on another person for every bite of food, every drink of milk she gets. The girl has it rough.
And yet, every day she sees me, she runs up to me and gives me a hug. Then when we take her out, she smiles at everyone she sees. Even the big scary people on the subway. And those people just can’t help but smile back.
Imagine if we lived like that? Imagine if we could spread cheer just because we could get over our stupid petty lives and realize how beautiful the world, other people, and everything else is? Imagine, how happy the world would be.
Life Is An Adventure
Anyone that has ever read Calvin and Hobbes knows the power of a cardboard box over a child’s imagination.
Growing up with video games, movies, and all that business, I forgot just how true that was.
And then my wife and I bought our daughter a beautiful toy. It was this ball with all these little gadgets on it that twirled and distracted and which we were convinced would rock her world.
We gave her the toy. She looked at it for a second. Then she threw it away and went to grab the box we had just taken it out of.
She spent the next few hours, days, weeks, playing with that thing. My wife and I congratulated ourselves on a good purchase.
The truth is, though, this maniacal obsession with boxes children have is just a microcosm of the way they look at the world. Us idiot adults spend our lives drugging ourselves. We listen to music, watch TV, movies, all that business, and we forget to just look around us. We forget to enjoy what life truly has to offer.
That’s why now, after our daughter was born, my wife and I are starting to realize just how much of an adventure life really is.
When we go to a park with our daughter, and she is fascinated by the grass, like to the point where her mind is blown and she’s staring at it like she’s on Mars or something, I just can’t help but realize how truly freaking amazing grass really is. When she squeals with delight when she sees a chicken at the petting zoo, man, chickens are suddenly the coolest.
The truth is, those things are all just a taste of what my daughter has taught me in her short life. Once she starts talking, I’m going to start handing down life lessons and all that business… but if history is any indication, I have a feeling she’ll put me in my place shortly afterwards.