Baby see, baby do
Pictured above is my baby cousin Giannis who I felt the purest joy to meet for the first time last week.
During our visit his mom told me that he recently learned how to climb.
He tries to climb everything now. Whatever he can crawl up to, reach, push and pull his way up, he’ll go for. It was pretty damn cute watching him maneuver into the sunken living room, going up and down from the couch, and reaching over me to get to his momma’s arms. It was also equally alarming to see him trying to climb upstairs!
Being 16 months old, Giannis is completely new to life. Maybe this is silly to say but, he literally can’t stand on his own two feet and walk around yet. Giannis is trying to climb upstairs and we’re trying to make sure he doesn’t. He doesn’t understand how dangerous that is. I mean, how could he? He’s a baby. He doesn’t think, ” What are the risks involved in climbing a flight of wooden stairs and how do my chances pair up with other toddlers who’ve attempted the same?”
Baby see, baby do.
And that’s how a baby does. From my understanding at least.
Along with Giannis, the past six months I’ve had the purest joy to babysit and play with my other two little cousins, Kailee and Amelia. They’re a bit older (3 and 5 year olds.) Kailee is this little brown eyed, dark haired, mischief-in-her-voice girl who calls out my name and says, “I’m gonna getchyu!” Amelia, on the other hand, is this strawberry haired, sassy but sweet, always-changing-into-Elsa -and -Moana girl who gives me the Meet The Parents gesture and says, “I’m watching you poopyhead.”
All three of them are fucking adorable, frankly put, and I’m in awe when I see them at play. I’m in awe because there’s something pure and innocent and creative and fundamentally important to learn from them. And its hard to put a finger on because as adults, we think and observe and analyse and get wrapped up in conceptualising everything.
What can we learn from children?
As I said above, children don’t think through their decisions. They aren’t concerned with potential outcomes, risk, and opportunity cost. They’re concerned with one thing and one thing only:
Kids are 100% committed to do what they’ve set out to do. If it’s to climb the stairs, they will try. If it’s to swing on the monkey bars, jump into the pool, or stack block on top of block and then knock it all down with a huge hooray, they will because it is simply fun.
Where children lack foresight, adults lack presence. They live spontaneously, we live by schedule.
In contrast to children, we adults concern ourselves with various responsibilities, some more severe than others. We’re always dealing with people and complex situations that compete for our time, attention and energy. The demands of work, family and social life use up our limited resources everyday no matter how depleted we feel from the day before. Adults adhere to a schedule because we must allocate our resources to what we consider absolutely essential first. Everything else is “downtime.” Time for ourselves (hopefully) to recharge our battery.
Because of this, you see far too many adults become cynical about the world. They become angry, bitter, and self-conscious. They lock up in situations they should be loose, and suffer from social anxiety and depression. Life is void of any sense of imagination and playfulness for these types of people.
“Fun and games are for children”, I’m sure you’ve heard them say. Yet when you make a conscious effort to see the world through a child’s eyes, you can see yourself.
Children can teach us that it’s possible to reinvoke those traits we cherish but tend to lose with age. Traits like enthusiasm, curiosity, playfulness, presence, creativity, and unselfconsciousness.
We all have a Child-like Spirit
Going back to my baby cousin Giannis, seeing him try to climb those stairs without fear or hesitation made me think about all the times I let my own fears stop me from doing something. For adults it’s usually our own internal dialogue that prevents us from moving forward. We not only overthink our decisions, but also our thoughts about our decisions. We paralyse ourselves before we even begin.
If we could somehow muster up the decisiveness a child has at play, we wouldn’t spend so much time wasting time. We’d aim at a target and launch ourselves directly at it, full speed ahead. Without the anxiety that comes along with overthinking, we’d be able feel confident in our actions, not worried about how others might perceive us. The fear of failure wouldn’t even occur to us if we were too busy focusing on the task at hand.
I also think about how many times per day my little cousin Amelia changes costumes. Five, six, seven, maybe even more? One minute she’s Elsa, then she’s Moana, and the next she’s a ladybug flying all over the place. She disappears and comes back with a new dress, and in a way, a new identity. I thought about how children love to experiment and how over the years we change our demeanour, style, and language to reflect our influences and aspirations.
Kids are trying to find their way, where as adults get stuck in their ways. Some people never change because they stop experimenting. It’s like we attach ourselves to an image and ignore anything that diverges from that particular image. It could be new information that contradicts your beliefs, or dropping habits that no longer serve you, or even something like fashion that expresses individuality. Unlike children, adults become static and obstinate.
Seeing the world through a child’s eyes is not about reliving your childhood.
Seeing the world through a child’s eyes is more so about waking yourself up and enriching your everyday experiences. It’s about living with excitement and genuine curiosity. It’s about conjuring that suppressed enthusiasm you have inside and curbing self-conscious beliefs that do nothing but hinder your happiness.
Please give me feedback! That’s how I improve my craft!
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