Today is my daughter’s birthday, she is 6 year old. First and foremost, I wish her joy, because life is filled with joy, even in its darker moments, I wish her power, because sometimes life may be unfair, and you need a lot of inner power to overcome the struggles and, last, but not least, I wish her happiness. As some of you may know, I think happiness is a process, not a goal, so, in fact, I wish her to live with happiness, not to search for it. Anyway, she knows better than me.
Each year, since she was born, I tried to identify at least 7 things I learned from her. So, without further ado:
1. No Strings Attached
One of Bianca’s favorite games is using rope to tie things together. The door to the chair, the couch to the TV and so on. In no time, she creates a web of rope in the entire house, and you cannot pass over it without a password. Sometimes it looks like a laser web, like those in the James Bond movies. She’s having a lot of fun. But as the room gets more crowded, she finds it difficult to move around.
It’s the same thing with our minds. We tie words to some sensations, memories to situations, places to feelings. But as we grow older we sometimes forget to clean up those associations and start clean. We get caught in our own web of mind ropes, and we can’t remember how things really are in the first place. Watching Bianca playing this game gave a new meaning to the saying “no strings attached”.
2. Inventing New Languages
A few months ago I went to an improvisation show. One of the numbers in the show involved the usage of gramelo, which is a language made up on the spot by actors, the only restriction being that it must resemble to something in the real life. Like English or Japanese, or so on. A few weeks ago, I started to talk with Bianca in our own gramelo, a language invented on the spot.
The experience was absolutely enlightening. Not to mention that it was hugely funny. Turned out the we managed to understand each other even better than by using normal language. At least a few times, anyways. The funniest part was when we started to talk in “chinka-paah” (that’s the name of our language) in front of other people. In the grocery store, for instance. We had the laugh of our time.
3. Play And Learn
Bianca knows how to write and read. Although she’s only 6 year old, she’s in the first year of school. And, to be honest, I didn’t even realize when she learned to write. I just heard her one day saying the names on the registration plates of the cars, as we drove around. There were meaningless, three letters words, but she got them right every time.
And then I remembered how much we used to play around words, how much we drew new letters, new shapes, new lines. It was a game, at the core. Playing is the best way to learn new things. Even now, when she has tests to do, I try to find a way to wrap the entire thing in some sort of a game, to make it funnier for her. Needless to say that I try the same thing for me too.
4. Limits Are Necessary Sometimes
If I don’t put a stop to something that she does, she may do it indefinitely. For hours, or even days. I remember one weekend she watched her favorite cartoon movie 4 times in a row. That’s a lot. And if I wouldn’t stepped in, she would have watch it even more.
As hard to believe as it may seem, I realized that I do that too. Sometimes I overcommit. I do more than I have to, because I find it “natural”. Just because I can, for instance, I become the “supporter” in a relationship, or in a business, turning it into an imbalanced interaction. Bad, Dragos, bad. Stop doing this
5. Take It As It Is
One thing that really amazes me at Bianca is how easy can take things, when she wants to. For instance, we may not always have the time to go the playground, or to do a walk in the park. When I openly explain to her that this simply isn’t possible at the moment, in like 3 seconds she copes with it, starts identifying something else to do, finds it and then instantly starts enjoying it.
You don’t need expensive gear to feel good, nor do you need fancy cars or places to go, (although they don’t really hurt). All you need is to take it as it comes. See what you can do with what you have and do it. When life gives you lemons, do a lemonade, they say, but I learned that you don’t event need lemons to do that. Just take whatever you get and move on.
6. Speak Your Mind
Bianca doesn’t really have any problems about telling what she really wants or feels. Sometimes she’s tired, but she says it like this. When she’s thirsty, she says she’s thirsty. When she doesn’t like a kid, she says that to that kid. When she doesn’t like the food, she says it like this. It’s not always polite. But it’s better than polite. It’s honest.
We, adults, became way too better at the game of dissimulation. By social constraint, or by fear of rejection, we sometimes avoid to tell what’s in our mind. I surprised myself in this situation too, I confess. But, as I watched Bianca’s way of speaking her mind, I gradually became less interested in what people may think of me, and more in what I really want to do or say. It’s not always polite, I admit it. But I never claimed to be a nice guy, anyway.
Well, I never, ever thought I will learn something about discipline from a 6 year old. Yet, I have to confess Bianca unveiled for me a thing or two about it. We get to spend together mostly weekends and she already got the habit of waking up at or around 7 AM (because she goes to school on weekdays). And because she can do that without a clock or my intervention, she does it during weekends too.
On the good side, we spend more time together. On the “more difficult to digest” side, I get to sleep less. But every time I confront myself with some tasks that have to be done, even if they are unpleasant, I think how Bianca managed to create and maintain her waking up early habit. Yes. It’s all about discipline.