Parenthood

The Tao of the Toddler

By Alasdair Cunningham

Wisdom is supposed to come with age but that’s not always the case. Take my kids for example, they can drop Zen bombs with the best of them. Just last week I was humbly reminded that “sharing is caring, Dad.” This was from my youngest who has just turned four, and sure, it was because I still had ice-cream in my bowl while he clearly did not, but his heart and his head were in the right place.

I try and blame my wife for this, but when I hear them say it, it comes out in such a brogue that they could have learned it from no-one other than their Scottish father.

Then, just a few days later, my other little outspoken person of truth surprised me with words of Tao’ like brilliance that astonished even me. I was moaning about something ( I find I do this more often the older I get…not sure about the supposed wisdom part though) when he put his book down, reached out, put his hand over mine, looked solemnly into my eyes, and recited with all the cadence of a 1000-year-old Buddhist monk that, “ You get what you get, Dad, and you don’t get upset.”
This from someone who can’t even tie his shoelaces and still digs merrily for diamonds in his nasal cavities!
I presume they learn these little koans at school because they definitely don’t get it from me or my wife.

From me they get half-muttered expletives in rush hour traffic that they then proceed to (much to my shame) repeat in front of their peers and teachers.
I try and blame my wife for this, but when I hear them say it, it comes out in such a brogue that they could have learned it from no-one other than their Scottish father.

The nicest nugget of wisdom was delivered by my then 3-year-old to his older brother who was five at the time. The eldest (whom we’ll call Steve after his favourite Minecraft character), was fretful about a race that was happening
the following morning. It was fairly far, a hare and a tortoise over one kilometre, which I thought was quite a distance for a nipper like him, hell, to be honest, it’s quite a distance for me!

Anyway, he was in a bit of a funk about it, hoping he was going to win it and was beginning to build up some serious  expectations that I knew were going to be dashed, so I decided to do what every Dad would do and head that kind of crazy talk off at the pass. I sat him down, tried to calm his nerves and reminded him that it wasn’t all about winning. I knew he would do well but winning it wasn’t an option just yet. The youngest (whom we’ll call Alex after his favourite Minecraft character), ambled into the bedroom, put his arm around his big brother’s shoulder, and said, “Steve, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, just as long as you have fun and do your best.”

Now, coming from me that would have just sounded twee, but coming from someone who is about the same height off the floor as my knees, made it sound as if it had been uttered by Yoda. Alex was so sincere, I was actually little choked up by it. Steve said, “I guess you’re right.”, hopped off his bed and that was that. The race was run, fun was had by all, with no pressure on him at all.

The funniest one happened on our way to school one morning. It wasn’t exactly a chicken nugget of wisdom, but it did make me laugh. The boys were working on their rhyming skills as part of their homework: car, star, bar, far, you get the picture, when another vehicle appeared out of nowhere cutting us off, nearly causing an accident.
Steve said, “Dad! He’s driving like an absolute muppet!”
I concurred while trying to watch my language and my temper, while the youngest leaned forward in his car seat, and said with unbridled glee, “Yeah, baby! I’m gonna poop in his soup!” I nearly drove off the side of the road, I was laughing so much.

So, whenever someone does you wrong, just repeat that mantra to yourself: “Yeah, baby, I’m gonna poop in your soup”.
Kids, they say the Taoist of things.

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