My 20-month-old started talking in sentences this week.
He ran up to me and said, “Mum, I did a poosie!” while pointing to his hardworking nappy. It certainly wasn’t the most literary choice for a first sentence but I couldn’t help scooping my smelly toddler into my arms and dancing around the living room to celebrate this developmental milestone.
As I caught a glimpse of my Beyonce-inspired moves in the mirrored splashback, I started thinking about how my children’s development has encouraged my own.
Patient. Mindful. Fun. These aren’t adjectives I would readily associate with my pre-baby self. Career-focused and insecure, I wore myself ragged head-butting the glass ceiling and leaned in so far I frequently face-planted.
Then I had kids and they opened up a new world of joy, chaos and love. I’ve watched with baited breath as they learned to roll, then sit, crawl then walk. I’ve listened attentively for their first words; secretly hoping it would be “mum” (it was “car” and “no”).
"Then I had kids and they opened up a new world of joy, chaos and love." Image: supplied.
As a toddler and preschooler now, I watch them argue, negotiate, fight then cuddle and I realise how much they have taught me about being a more well-rounded person.
As a working mum in the final stages of completing a Masters degree, things can get hectic. This week I considered deferring one of my subjects as it all felt too hard. But then I remembered the calm persistence frequently demonstrated by my three-year-old, Max.
After receiving his new sets of Duplo for his birthday, he patiently built a train. When his baby bro bulldozed it with one swing of his chubby arm, Max howled about the unfairness of life and I expected him to give up on his career in construction. Minutes later, he collected all the bricks and started again while reprimanding his brother if he got too close. Watching him start from scratch and seeing the joy on his face when his train stood strong was a lesson in not giving up on something important to you. Long story short, I am totally going to nail this final semester.
It’s true that an active imagination can take you anywhere. My kids recently emerged from the spare room dragging the “don’t touch” bedspread behind them.
When I asked them to return it I was informed that they needed it “for da roof”. Using the outdoor seat cushions as walls and the coffee table as the boundary they created a castle in the living room and insisted that the bewildered dog take up residence in their new abode.
As I climbed through the ‘east wing’ to shrieks and giggles, I reflected on how ridiculously stringent I used to be about maintaining a perfectly tidy house. Now? Now I reckon the living room cushion castle is our home’s best feature.
"After receiving his new sets of Duplo for his birthday, he patiently built a castle." Image: supplied.
When my best friend first met me she thought I was a bit of a cold fish, although her language after a few mojitos is probably more colourful than that. I was never big on hugs and affection until my kids taught me how glorious it can be.
My little one, Hugo is always asking for a “kissy” or a “cuddy” and still loves to nap burrowed into my neck while Max frequently declares his undying love for people and things. This morning he said he really, really loves potatoes with a sincerity that could rival a Nicholas Sparks protagonist.
On car rides he will often list how much he loves every member of the family, tacking on the garbo and Wayne from down the end of the street for good measure. Now when someone hugs me, I hug them back. I also try and pay people the respect of listening, really listening, because if my kids can show love and compassion to everyone they meet, then I reckon I should follow suit.
"Now when someone hugs me, I hug them back." Image: supplied.
Seeing life through a toddler’s microscope can really put things into perspective. Kids don’t care about how senior your job is or whether you score an invite to the races or not. Is it OK to be ambitious, love beautiful things and attend fancy parties? Of course it is but I’ve learned that in the grand scheme of things aspiring to material possessions alone is a hamster wheel to misery, at least for me.
While I still Instagram the occasional lust-after handbag, I’ve learned to admire someone’s character over their new car. I’ve learned that there are far worse things in life than not fitting into size 10 jeans and I’ve learned to embrace the moments, every glorious one of them.
So thank you to my gorgeous kids for injecting my life with laughter, patience, resilience and imagination, I can’t wait to continue growing alongside you.
What have you or your child learned through play?
LEGO DUPLO is a colourful and fun world where preschool children aged 1 ½ to 5 years can play and explore with bigger-sized LEGO bricks, specially designed for their smaller hands and innocent curiosity.
The LEGO DUPLO system of play is versatile at its core with a variety of bricks, figures and other elements - the perfect toolbox of creative materials for young children to explore and strengthen their creative and imaginative skills.