5 Things You Understood As A 3-Year-Old. (But Somehow Forgot.)
My son is almost 3 years old now, and although I teach him new things each day, it seems that he too, is teaching me about who I am and what I have forgotten as I’ve grown. Here are 5 reminders of mindsets we once had, but have somehow lost focus of as the years have passed.
1. Everybody has the potential to be your new best friend.
As my son plays on any playground, he gladly greets his new friends. It’s not just a playground these kids have come to play at, no, it’s a ship, or it’s a castle, or possibly a jungle with lava all around. He, along with these other little hobbits running around, have entered into a mythical world and within that world lies adventure. When you’re on an adventure, everybody is your friend, we don’t have time for enemies or mutinies, no, we need our friends to help us along in our adventure.
As an adult, we hand pick our friends, avoid conversations with strangers and often make small talk because we are “too busy” for one more friend. If life is an adventure, then we shouldn’t hesitate to find more people to join in the fun!
2. It’s ok to wave, say hello, and “see you later” to whomever you meet.
We have become obsessed with “stranger danger” and rightfully so. We live in a crazy world with crazy people. My son doesn’t hesitate to say “hello” to anybody. Not once has he said “hello” or given a friendly wave and not received a smile. More commonly, he gets a wave back, or a “hi, how are you?” He doesn’t hesitate to engage and interact with people.
As an adult, we far too frequently avoid this interaction with a stranger. We may freely give out the awkward half smile, or the slight head nod to acknowledge that “yes, I made eye contact with you, but I’m not wiling to say hello right now because I don’t know you and I need to get to where I’m going!” Maybe it’s time we greet people again, not just our friends, or the people we know only slightly, but to say “hello!” with honest excitement to whomever we come across. You might even brighten somebody’s life in a powerful way.
3. Life was a grand adventure and anything was possible!
Mud was meant to be stomped in, not avoided. Leaves were meant to be jumped in and tossed in the air, not raked into organized piles. A stick had a million uses. Rocks were created to make large splashes. Flying was almost possible. There was no rush, no worry, just a world in which anything could easily turn into a playground.
While on a hike recently, I noticed that somebody was not keeping up and being way too quiet. I turned around to find a boy elbows deep in mud and a bull dozer that was once yellow, now turned into a thick mocha colored mess. An older couple came across him, and he said “hi” without hesitation. They had strong british accents and encouraged him to keep on playing in the mud, because “from here on out, life is just muck and bullets!”
I had never heard this phrase before, but with an accent like that, it sounded like some sort of profound wisdom this kind man was bestowing upon my son. After a quick moment with google, I learned that this phrase was a WW1 phrase about life in the trenches… it was a life full of “muck and bullets”.
We go from a life where anything is possible, to a life of a mortgage and student loans. We enter a life where we begin to avoid the puddles in fear that we might get our vehicle too dirty… Our days are spent trying to understand our retirement plans or health care packages… Can you remember days in which anything was possible?
I think it’s possible to return to those days. We don’t have to wake up day after day living in the trenches covered in muck and hiding from the bullets. We can live free from that! I’m working on it, and it will be a lengthy process, but I believe we can all return to our carefree days if we begin to reset our priorities and remember that this life is truly a grand adventure.
4. Who cares what you look like!
I don’t know what it’s like to have a 3 year old daughter, just a son. I have never once seen my boy look in the mirror and worry about his hair. He just doesn’t care. He also doesn’t care about the oatmeal on his shirt. He doesn’t care what brand his jacket is, or if it’s “in style” or any of that. Clothes only serve two purposes for a toddler. 1) Keep you warm. 2) Something to get dirty.
We accumulate years standing in front of a mirror. We spend absurd amounts of money on hair products to impress people. We buy these clothes with logos all over them to help show our status or say “I’m outdoorsy… sorta.” Let’s spend less time worrying about how we look, and worry more about how much we love.
5. You begin to understand the importance of sharing
This one might be a bit of a stretch, because lets face it, we are born selfish. We find a toy, and it’s suddenly “ours.” Have you ever been around a two-year-old? They call it the “terrible twos” for a reason. As a parent, I have to constantly teach the importance of sharing. If you have ever worked with kids, you know how awfully challenging it can be to teach a child to share. But slowly, they begin to get it. They don’t like it at first, but they understand that they are supposed to share.
We are quick to teach this ability, but as adults, we have forgotten the importance of sharing. We own so much stuff these days, because we do not like to share, and we are too prideful to ask “can I borrow that?” so we buy more and more stuff.
Some of us do share, somewhat. But, do we share with people we’ve never met? If I’ve got endless amounts of clean drinking water, why am I not sharing that with somebody across the globe? If I have access to a great education, shouldn’t I want that same education for somebody else? If I have shoes on my feet and clothes on my body and a closet full of unused items… shouldn’t I share what I’m not using? What about food? I’ve seen my son share his snacks with total strangers without thinking twice about it (do toddlers ever think twice?), but as an adult, with endless supplies of food at the grocery store, what is stopping us from sharing our food with somebody who will be going hungry tonight.
If the world was ran by three-year-olds, there would be more sharing, less worrying about fashion and status, more playgrounds, more fist bumps, and we would all have more friends. Sure we would still have our meltdowns from time to time and we might need a few more naps, but wouldn’t life be more enjoyable if we worried a bit less and got a bit dirtier and shared a lot more?