July 30, 2013

5 Unlikely Lessons I Learned from My Preschooler. ~ Brooke Kochel

My firstborn is a precocious little thing.

She’s a yogini, belly dancer and amateur fairy catcher who aspires to play the tuba.

Pushing four, she’s taught me almost as much as I’ve taught her.

1) She taught me to karaoke.

I don’t sing. Not in the shower and definitely not on a microphone in front of people. I’m totally okay with my voice, just as yoga has taught me to love my body. I wasn’t meant to be a back up singer for Britney Spears (although I’m still shooting for back up dancer), but a few nights ago in an old Hollywood restaurant, where talented young things waited tables by night, she convinced me to get on stage and sing her favorite song, “Call Me Baby.”

2) She taught me to love unconditionally.

When you have a terrible voice and a bit of stage fright and your child looks at you with pleading eyes and asks you to karaoke, you might find yourself saying yes. It is in that very moment that you fully comprehend what unconditional love is. You will jump off a cliff for this person and they know it.

3) She taught me to try new things, again.

I’ve always jokingly said that I would try anything twice, until now. My three year old is as picky as any other preschooler, but here’s the thing—even if she knows she doesn’t like something, she’ll try it again the next time. She has a theory. In her simple words, “You should try new things, they might be good.”

I think this idea comes from her compulsion to not miss out on anything in life. As an infant, she’d fight sleep until she was positive nothing exciting would happen if she closed her eyes. Her hypothesis doesn’t stop there. She believes that with each changing day, your taste buds or preference could shift slightly. So, if the opportunity arises, you should try it again to be certain you’re not missing out on something really great. I can’t argue with that!

4) She taught me to eat seaweed.

I don’t like seaweed. It’s fishy and foreign. I feel like it’s for people that live in Asia to consume or perhaps, snuck into my favorite fried sushi roll.

She’s part of this new generation of children whose parents practice (or teach) yoga and protest against GMO’s. She and her friends prefer sheets of dried seaweed in their lunchboxes instead of chips. So, when this child whom I love unconditionally asks me to try new things because I might be missing out on the best things that ever happened to me…I eat seaweed and you know what? It’s starting to taste a little less fishy and a little more buttery and delightful with each bite.

5) She taught me to practice what I preach.

When I had children, I’d planned on having more responsibility. It’s the accountability I hadn’t bargained for. Not much gets past my daughter. If I tell her she can have a treat in the morning if she’ll go to sleep now, you can bet she’ll open her eyes the next day and ask for her reward before she yawns.

If I eat a piece of chocolate after I brush my teeth at night, I might as well be heading to the bathroom with a toothbrush in hand. When I leave for work, I must hug all family members and tell them how much I love them or she’ll barricade the front door until I do and I shouldn’t even think about starting the car without putting on my seat belt.

She’s like a little angel that sits on my shoulder. I never imagined raising a child would propel me to be that ideal person I wanted her to become.

Because of her, I’m not a hypocrite with cavities.

As we move together into our next phase of life together, past baby and toddlerhood, I shudder to think of what else she’ll make me eat. How else will she raise the bar for me as a person? Now I realize the relationship is mutual and it will partly depend on what I teach her to be true.

She will be holding my hand as she grows, not letting me fall behind morally, hygienically or experientially. It will also make me think twice before I hold her to unrealistic standards.

For, the greatest lesson she’s teaching me is no matter how old, we’re both human.

We’re not perfect and there’s always room to grow.

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Assistant Ed: Steph Richard/Ed: Bryonie Wise

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Brooke Kochel