Sometimes you learn very important things from those younger than you.
During these last months I’ve thought about kids… a lot. My son had his 6th birthday and I made a special image for him. And, I made a set of signature cards for a little boy who just turned 3. As I was thinking of these little boys, I was also thinking about primary colored building blocks, trains, space, rockets, roller coasters, and many other things little children love. I was also thinking about all the things I learned from my son.
I didn’t expect to have children. I didn’t even think I ever wanted children. And, when I found out I was pregnant, I knew having children would change me but I never expected to learn some of my most important life lessons from him. Maybe I went into this with low expectations because it started when my heart was blown open with love the minute he was born. And, that was just the start. There have been others… many… many others. Here are just a few of the most important ones:
Incremental progress adds up… and is hugely valuable
When he was just a couple of weeks old, I heard him making some odd sounds in his pack-n-play. I walked over and saw him looking at the bumblebee mobile above him and noticed he was trying to grab it. And, then I realized he couldn’t grab that mobile because he didn’t know how to use his arm yet, much less use his hand. He could only thrust his arm through the air… somehow knowing that it was the answer, but he couldn’t control it yet. I’d never experienced that before: watching a person learn something FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME. A human building the connectors in their brain for the first time.
I watched my boy for the next few days and I saw this amazing determination. I saw him try and try again. I saw him work through frustration and learn to control his shoulder, then his arm and continue to throw it up until he controlled it and connected with that darn bee. Then after more trying, he eventually learned to use his hand and he grabbed that bee!
This is the ‘Lesson of incremental progress’. It takes time to learn to use your eyes, then your head, then your shoulder, then your arm, then your hand. Then, use your body. Then, one day you walk, then eventually run. It takes years, but it happens. You don’t learn to run first, you learn to use your eyes first. Then everything progresses. It’s like this with almost everything in life…especially new things.
Incremental progress adds up…and is HUGELY valuable. Value the little steps that build upon each other.
This was pretty recent and I actually learned it through one of his friends. The friend was staying the night and the boys were talking. My son didn’t want to do something, I’m not sure what, and the friend said very specifically, very simply, very factually, ‘You just have to have confidence. That’s all. Then you can do it.’
It was so simple and true. Somehow even when we ‘know’ something, hearing it from someone else is just what’s needed to sink it into our psyches.
Out of the mouth of a 6 year old and the matter of fact, no big deal manner he said it. It reinforced what I’d been telling myself all along. Yet that simple thing gave me an extra bit of enlightenment and freedom needed here, for this.
It’s no big deal… Just have confidence and do it. No big deal.
Creativity takes minutes, not hours
I learned it from watching my son create pictures. He has so much joy drawing a quick crayon drawing in just a few minutes. And, some of them are pretty darn good.
It was a huge weight off my shoulders to realize this and it’s become part of the basis of this work. Quick enjoyable time and seeing what comes from it. When I was painting before, I took hours and hours and months and months on a single painting. It was overwhelming. Ultimately it was one of the reasons I didn’t enjoy it and stopped producing. Now, I allow myself to do quick spurts of activity, consistently, and enjoy the results. Now, there are lots of images instead of one of two.
It’s been great to produce consistently because of this one life lesson. Creativity can take just minutes; set a timer, get to work and enjoy it.
There are more and I’m sure there’ll be more to write about for future posts. These are some of the most important basic and foundation life lessons I’ve learned from him so far.
Have confidence and even minutes of continuously working on the ‘little things’ adds up to huge progress.
Know these and follow your gut…. You will ALWAYS come out right. It might be the hard road, and it might take years to be able to run it, but you will finish it.