Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from Children

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


"You learn something every day
if you pay attention."  -Ray LeBlond
We are often reminded that we learn as much from our children as they learn from us. As my son is just turning a year old, he has much yet to teach me. But his lessons so far have been miraculous: more than any meditation practice in which I have participated, my son reminds me to be present, in the here and now, at all times. I am not just talking about being present so that I can be vigilant and watch for his safety. 

No- Rowan wakes with boisterous enthusiasm, laughing and smiling at the new day and slapping his sleeping mama's form next to him so that she can wake and witness it with him. It's hard to be morning-grumpy when he's so simply happy to be alive.

At 11 months, he now points at everything and asks "eh?" which is his pre-vocabulary way of asking any and all questions.  Often, he does it when he sees something for the first time and wants to know what it is and if he can touch it. 

I have been astonished at all the things he notices that I am simply not seeing- usually items of great beauty- rocks, flowers, birds, that sort of thing. Here is a mundane example: the morning right before our big holiday meal, I was at the grocery store, frantically putting my list items in my cart, with Rowan in the front seat. I answered his "Eh?" questions about canned foods, produce, and bagged bread, but there were more "Ehs" than I knew what he was referring to. Then he got his chance to show obtuse mommy what it was all about. There was a foil helium balloon at my eye level on a holiday baking display. "Oh, look! It's a balloon!", I said, thinking that I was showing him something neat. "Ballooooon." And I moved it closer to him so he could see it, touch it, and explore it. It was shiny and sparkly, like most of his favorite things. 

After a minute or so, I put the balloon back and started my shopping again. Soon, he was like "Eh?" "eh?" "eh?" "eh?" "eh?" "eh?" "eh?" "eh?" pointing everywhere. How did I miss that the store had decked out the entire place with helium balloons for the holidays? (Forehead slap) They were freaking everywhere, and I had failed to see any of them. Rowan didn't. He not only has what the Buddhists call beginner's mind, he has beginner's eyes, too.

"All the world is a laboratory
to the inquiring mind."  -Martin H. Fischer
It was quite telling to me that what I missed was a balloon. These are items solely created for pleasure and decoration- I was missing beauty and whimsy because I was too caught up in my agenda for the day! Lesson learned!

As Mark Twain quipped,  "Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned." I have got to unlearn my hyper productivity and slow down and simply BE with my child.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 11 with all the carnival links.)


  1. Greetings from Malaysia! Hopping over from the Carnival!

    Beautiful lessons! Yes, children often make us stop our busy and hurried life to you know, smell the roses and enjoy life as it passes us by!


    ~ Jenny @ http://www.imafulltimemummy.com/

  2. Oh it's just beautiful isn't it - your post took me right back to that sense of wonder my daughter reminded me of. THis line "my son reminds me to be present, in the here and now" just sums it all up. As adults we are in the future and the past, but our little ones remind us to breath into the present. Such a great reminder - thank you!

  3. What a wonderful post! I love the beginner's eyes idea. It's so true that kids see these things we miss — the beautiful instead of the functional. Thank you for the inspiration to be present and mindful.

  4. What a beautiful reminder! Love this post. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. I wonder how many things of beauty, how many memories and incredible moments we miss, because we are too busy thinking about the next meal, the next item on our to do list, the next paycheck, etc. If we slow down and listen, I think you've hit on one of the biggest lessons toddlers can teach us!

  6. I love this post. I have been thinking about trying a meditation practice to help me be present and mindful but I should start with my children. Their joy every day is miraculous and I worry, am busy, and I miss out on being present in their joy and therefore, my own. I need to make a change. Thank you for the reminder.

    I also love the Mark Twain quote. I wrote some posts about unschooling last year and I have a hard time explaining it to newbies to the idea. That quote sums it up.

  7. It's so true that kids teach us to be present! I love your balloon story. =)

  8. lovely post and so glad to know others are also having those facepalm moments of i-thought-i-was-teaching-you-stuff. :)

  9. It's so true! My daughter is always reminding me of the little things in life :) Thanks for sharing!

  10. Nothing profound to share. Just joy at imagining Rowan pointing to things and saying "Eh?"

    You must have clapped your hands many times in delight. Thank you.

  11. Nice lesson to learn -- noticing the whimsy and beauty. I love it!

    My children have been wonderful dharma teachers of mine. :) I am grateful to be on the path with them.

    Blessings to you and yours,
    (found you via the carnival)


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