The other day I was at a shopping mall with my 4-year-old daughter. We stopped at a little play area for a few minutes and instantly she had made friends with another little girl. They were talking and laughing and hiding together in one of the tunnels as though they had known each other forever. We had only been there 5 minutes! That’s when it struck me… being 4-years-old is pretty awesome! It’s the age where you are old enough to be fully communicative and expressive yet young enough to be completely and totally UNselfconscious.
When was the last time I had become friends with someone within 5 minutes of meeting them? Hmmm, I couldn’t think of a time. I felt so inspired by that moment that I started to become aware of other ways her little 4-year-old personality has inspired me. I realized that I could take a lesson from that impulsive, joyful nature she has. As her Mother, it’s my job to teach and guide but along the way, I’ve learned a few things from her too.
1. Happiness Is Contagious
There’s a certain kind of joy that a small child is capable of spreading. Whether it’s a word they mispronounce or chocolate smeared all over their face, they just make people happy. My daughter radiates delight and gets excited about the littlest things (“Popsicle! Popsicle! Popsicle, Mommy!”). It’s contagious and a great reminder to me to always seek the joy in things and to spread that happiness to those around me.
2. Be Brave
The older I have gotten, the less likely I am to go out of my comfort zone. But when I watch my daughter jump into the pool with abandon or happily board the scariest of roller coasters, I remember that sometimes you just gotta let your courage take over when fear grips you in its bony fingers. Facing fears and moving forward with confidence is its own kind of thrill. Life without a little fear is hardly worth living.
3. Hugs Make Everything Better
My daughter is a very serious hugger. She has to hug each one of us before she goes to bed and before we leave the house and as soon as she wakes up in the morning. She’s been known to run to the front door frantically to catch her brother before he leaves for school yelling “HUG ME!!!!” There’s probably not one person who has visited our home that hasn’t gotten a hug from her. She’s even tried to hug a very uncomfortable plumber as he was leaving. Now, I’m not suggesting we all go out and hug every stranger we see but sometimes a good hug is just what the doctor ordered. If we hugged each other a little more, the world might be a sweeter place. Just my two cents.
4. Make Friends Wherever You Go
To make friends, we have to be friendly. And I must admit, when I’m at the supermarket and I have a million things on my to-do list, making chit-chat with the person next to me is not a high priority. But if I’ve got my little 4-year-old “friend maker” with me, we are talking to everyone. “What’s your name?” is the question she poses to each person she encounters. People can’t help but be engaged by her charm. And this forces her Mommy to stop in her busy tracks and be a little friendlier too.
5. Take Fashion Risks
Ooooooohhhhh, is my girl a fashionista. She would change her outfit 5 times a day if she could. As we’re walking out the door to go anywhere, we have to wait for her to go run and grab a pair of sunglasses, or a tutu or a hat. The frillier, the sparklier, the pinker, the better. She parades around the house wearing Mickey Mouse ears, a pink tutu and red boots on the wrong feet and she couldn’t be prouder. This is a reminder to me that sometimes a gal needs to wear something just because it makes her happy. Who cares what anyone else thinks?
Now don’t get me wrong, she’s not joyful and upbeat ALL the time. In fact, she can sometimes be a little rascal. And I know this won’t last forever. Self doubt has a way of creeping in on us the older we get. But I just wanted to stop and take a moment to recognize that the blissful joy of childhood is something that can inspire us all. It’s good to remember that life is meant to be fun. And that maybe, once in a while, we should still let ourselves get really excited about popsicles.