I’m blessed to have four babies, currently all middle school-aged and under. And as much as the wifey and I strive to teach and model good choices for them, they end up teaching us a lot, too. Okay, me – they teach me a lot.
So I’m pleased to offer you four lessons my kids taught me…
“I want to be the first girl president.”Baby Girl #1 at age 7
“I wanna be Captain Underpants.”Baby Boy #2 at age 2 ½
Even if your goal is the longest of long shots (“Girl President” also said she would become a “Princess Astronaut”), don’t listen to the critics and the naysayers who say it will never happen. Why can those folks be so angry at times? Often because they’re secretly hurting, knowing they’ve blown opportunities by playing it safe. And Captain Underpants? He doesn’t actually exist. You know what also doesn’t exist (yet, at least)? Most of the jobs that these children (and your children) will one day have. The future is unwritten – so go write it.
One day, Baby Girl #2 (4 at the time), persistently, but sweetly kept asking me to play with her. I told her I had to work until 5:30pm, but after that, I could. Cut to 5:40pm when I make my way out to where she was playing with her siblings…
“Hi, Daddy. Looks like we don’t need you after all!”Baby Girl #2 at age 4
Don’t pin your all your happiness or plans on someone else. Keep momentum on your side. Don’t give your agency away. So many things are out of our direct control, so stay busy managing (and being responsible for) what you can control.
Same Baby Girl, just days later…
“I have a hypopsis.” (hypothesis)Baby Girl #2 at age 4
Don’t just play back and see what others do. Show up with an idea to try. Show up with a theory (or a “hypopsis”) to test. Be willing to be wrong. Be willing to look foolish. Remain humble enough to learn. Ask the question everyone is thinking, but no one is brave enough to voice (see also “Daddy, can monkeys pee on you?”)
And I can’t wrap this up without imparting this last bit of wisdom given to me when our oldest let one rip just moments after the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve…
“First toot of the new year!”Baby Boy #1 at age 8
Take time to celebrate the little victories.
– Matthew Porter
P.S. Have kids interested in science? PBS Kids has some great resources for you.