1. When encountering a forbidden object, warn yourself with a loud, “No, No, No!”
Apparently, Raelynn must hear this word often, because she has quickly latched on to saying, “No!” with the cutest shake of her head. (The problem is when it’s cute at all the wrong times and her mom has a hard time not smiling or laughing. Oops.) Sometimes I’ll be doing my own thing, ignoring her, when from the next room I hear, “No, no, no!” I know it’s time to investigate and that I will find my small child playing with photo books… Mom’s Bible… her hair-clips… the diaper bag… (insert anything exciting that needs to be explored). You would think her proclamation to herself would, you know, deter her. But no. It just brings Mom running instead.
What would happen if I’d say, “No, no, no,” out loud when reaching for extra chocolate… my phone… a grudge… (insert any forbidden item, thought, or action). Would I be forewarned of the consequences and not yield to the temptation?
2. Running away rarely works.
Who doesn’t love a good chase? Well, maybe a lot of people, but Raelynn loves to be have someone come growling on her heels as she takes off for the furthest corner of the bedroom. All’s fun and games as long as all’s fun and games. Not so fun is when she’s caught running from a command or discipline. The good news is that she’s learning! Slowly.
Note to self: running rarely works. Not from responsibility. Not from painful conversations. Not from God’s convicting Spirit.
3. If they can, I can too.
Of course, the opposite of this is usually much better wisdom. Really. Haven’t your parents said, “Just ‘cause everyone is, doesn’t mean you should too?” So true! But I’m thinking more of learning to model good example. For Raelynn that means, “I can wash dishes too! or feed eggs to my doll or climb up on the furniture or feed the chickens or put things in the trashcan or brush my hair… just like mom!” I’m amazed at each next thing I find her doing, wondering, “Who taught her that?!”
If they can, I can too. If they can follow Jesus radically. If they can be unafraid to share the Gospel. If they can be humble enough to apologize. If they can… If they can, I can too.
4. Take advantage of unexpected opportunities.
Of course! Here’s a refrigerator drawer taken out for washing; let’s use it as a chair! Here’s a laundry basket; let’s turn it over to use as a horse to ride! Here’s a sheet of stickers; let’s decorate the whole house with froggy-like smiles! Here’s a whole bag of chicken feed; let’s get a snack (“Num, num!”).
(Sorry, grammer-lovers, I know that “let’s” is not at all proper in this context, but it just wants to be there.)
But let’s learn from the eagerness of a toddler! Instead of passing up all the delicious and exciting opportunities God sends our way, let’s take full advantage of them. Here’s a neighbor to talk to. Here’s a moment to pray or meditate. Here are flowers to buy for someone. Here’s a tired mom who would love a meal. Here’s a young girl who needs someone to ask her how she’s doing because she’s too scared to take the first step to open up to someone.
Maybe those just are my opportunities. Maybe yours look a lot different and come in the form of a sheet of stickers or a laundry basket. Regardless. Don’t miss them.
5. Delight in the little things.
Nothing new here. Toddlers across time have delighted in the tiniest pleasures, and my child is no exception. She will stop to enjoy everything I miss, like a small patch of snow, her reflection in the van bumper, a dandelion, or a discarded price tag on the floor.
Wow. Why do I insist on passing up the joy of simple things?
6. Be friendly! even if they aren’t in return.
Raelynn loves to wave to people in the store. The other day she waved at a man and I don’t believe he returned it. We crossed paths a bit later, and Raelynn happily began waving again. He still didn’t pay her much attention. No matter to her; she wasn’t deterred by someone not noticing or appreciating her efforts!
Remember: the hardest people to love are probably the ones who need it the most.
7. Outside > inside.
This one’s simple! Raelynn would spend a lot more time outdoors if I allowed her. Maybe I should.
Hint: fresh air and God’s creation are good for you. For both body and soul.
8. Read more books.
One of my favorite moments is when I go searching for Raelynn (after all, she’s being far too quiet…) and I find her quietly reading a book. I love it. At other times, when Ben or I suggest a story, her little face just lights up! and she goes tearing off to find a book.
Reading is so good for me too. And you. Read more books! Read much more of The Book.
9. Clean up after yourself.
The other day, Raelynn bounced into the kitchen carrying a rag. I distractedly told her to go put it back, but stopped when I realized what she was doing. She had created a puddle on the floor with her sippy cup (quite intentionally, I’m sure), then decided it needed to be wiped up. She swiped her rag toddler-fashion across the floor a few times and diligently wiped off the sippy cup as well. I stopped paying any attention, but it all came back to me later when I found the rag neatly deposited in a laundry basket, mission accomplished. All I can do is just smile and praise her and hope the responsibility continues! Now for picking up toys…
Lesson # 1: Do I go back to clean up after myself? Apologize when needed? Admit I was wrong? Once I learn that, maybe I’ll tackle that crafty wreck on my sewing desk…
Lesson #2: Don’t buy cheap sippy cups.
10. The best time of day is when Daddy (“Da-ee!”) comes home!
She’s ready to welcome him home! She runs, she bounces, she smiles, she laughs! Daddy is home! She wants his coffee cup, his beanie, his hugs and kisses. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Am I ready? Oh joy! Soon my Daddy is coming some day to take me HOME! Oh joy! Then I can say, “It doesn’t get any better than this!”