I read the first chapter of a book called The Four Agreements before attending the leadership retreat in January of this year. I am sure I will badly summarize what I remember of what I read, but what sticks out to me today is the part about how living by the rules of society is an agreement that we make – and that we are taught by our parents.
This week Little J turned 2. And in the midst of all of the fun and celebration, I realized how much we were teaching him about a little thing called birthdays. Like how you celebrate them. And the song we all sing. And blowing out a candle. Wearing a party hat. Eating cake.
We started with some outside play. Little J received a t-ball set for his birthdya last year... and well, with all of the massive heat this year, I just hadn't opened it yet. So a year later (I know!), we opened up the box and let him play.
The thing is though, playing t-ball isn't instinctive - like knowing to put the food in to your mouth. There's holding the bat. And knowing the object is to knock the ball off the stick with the other stick. Hmmmm.
Here's Little J's first attempt:
A little later, we were getting ready for the big song. I handed all of the kids the whistle-type noise makers. One of our guests, who is almost 5, took great joy in showing the other kids (3, 2, 2 and almost 2) how to put your mouth around and blow.
It took Little J a few attempts, but he figured it out.
He got it though.
Presents are whole other minefield of lessons to learn. How to open. How to say thank you to the person who gave you the gift. How to move on to the next gift and not decide present #3 is awesome and ignore the fact that there are other people waiting for you to open their equally awesome gifts that you just don't know about yet.
Saying good bye is something he knows how to do well. And I was really impressed when one of his little friends left first that (a) he noticed E was gone and (b) insisted on syaing goodbye to him. I think we must have done well on this part of the manners department.
Birthday parties are also a lesson for me. Last years shindig was big and loud and full of people and cake and food and... and ... and... In doing that I learned that it is hard for me to pay full attention to Little J and to my guests. This year we went a lot smaller, family and very close friends. I had a chance to talk to everyone. And I also knew that someone always had an eye on Little J.
I wonder what I will reflect on learning next year......
(c) Lessons from Cooper