Wednesday, 7 September 2016

What Babies Teach Us

The arrival of a baby is cause for a major celebration for most families.  Babies seem to turn even cynical, life-hardened adults into cooing, face-pulling and blabbering beings, all just to illicit a smile from a sleepy infant.  Babies instantly change the dynamics of a family and reinvent the established routine of most households.  The content of conversations also change to the extent that we ask ourselves what on earth we spoke about BB (before baby)?

The majority of parents are totally wrapped up in the care of their little miracle, and they are eager to teach their children everything they need to know. Yet having a new born in our family, and not being the primary care-giver has given me the opportunity to observe my delightful granddaughter and I was suddenly struct by this truth:  this little bundle is already adding value to our lives just by being here, dozing off in a little bubble of bliss,  With her every breath she is teaching us about life and living.  Observing her, she taught me a few things and I would like to share them with you:

1. We need people

We as adults like to think of ourselves as independent and self-relying individuals.  We like to believe we know all the answers, and we seldom if ever like to ask for help or guidance.  We want to do everything ourselves.  Asking for help or advice implies weakness.  But babies instinctively know they need help, and they accept it without it affecting their self-esteem.  In fact they can get quite vocal when they need assistance.  Babies know that we need other people in order to survive.  We need to connect to other people, in fact our wiring is such that we can cope better in most situations if we can share our thoughts, ideas, worries or problems with somebody else.

2. Just the basics

Babies are satisfied and happy little creatures when their basic needs are met.  Their basic needs are love, sustenance, comfort and safety.  They flourish when their simplest needs are met.  They do not need things, they need to be cradled in the loving arms of their parents and they need their attention.  They do not need expensive dinners, meals in fancy restaurants or gourmet food, no they just need milk to fill their tummies and help them grow.  They do not need a palace or a room filled with all the luxuries money can buy, they just need a place filled with love and a warm cozy bed and as for safety, where better than in your mommy's arms, holding you safe and the monsters at bay.  No baby has ever demanded to be driven around in a luxury car or to sleep in a five star residence waited on by a dozen servants.

3. Unconditional

Babies are unconditional beings.  They do not care who their parents are.  They are not impressed by the title of CEO, Doctor or Professor.  They do not care whether their parents are the prettiest, the richest or the most clever people.  They do not care whether we walk around in PJ's and slippers or wear Prada.  They love us and smile at us regardless of who we are.  We are their hero's and their people and they look at us with total adoration.

4. Free to be themselves

Babies never pretend to be who they are not (except for role-playing i.e. pretending to be a tortoise for a whole day).  They are completely themselves.  They are not afraid to chuckle with total abandon or cry when they are unhappy.  They sleep whenever they want to without caring whether they snore or drool.  They are not scared to be vocal or excited, and they could not care less if other people like them or not, they are quite comfortable with whom they are.

5. Never give up

Have you ever seen a baby who has tried to lift up his head when he is doing tummy time, but then his head flops back down?  Have you seen that baby then refuse to ever try that again?  No, you did not.  Babies try and fail, but then try again until they get it right.  Babies never give up, even when they fall and bruise their knees, or knock their heads they get up and try it again.  Babies persevere, they have this inherent believe that they will succeed.  The option of quitting never enters their minds.

6. A inquisitive mind

Babies are ready and eager to learn.  They observe everything around them with wide open eyes, drinking in every little detail.  They touch and taste everything they can get hold of.  Just watch those little fingers reach out for a piece of fluff, their whole being is focused on reaching it and examining it.  Even the smallest thing draws their attention and they marvel at the wonder of it.  They do not merely notice the new toy, they also notice the box, the wrapping and that fascinating piece of cello-tape.  Oh, how amazing that piece of sticky plastic is!  Through the eyes of children we have an opportunity to re-discover the wonders of life!

7. Trust and have Faith

Babies do not worry.  They do not fret or get stomach ulcers from stress.  They trust that those strange sleep-deprived cooing humans will take care of them, will look after them and provide for them.  They have full confidence that their parents and any other significant adult are totally reliable and have their best interest at heart.   They have faith that everything will be as it should be.  They open themselves up with no fear of being hurt, rejected or neglected.  They believe in the goodness of people and take the truth at face value.  They never doubt for one minute the words of their parents.  They understand the key concept of faith.

How blessed I am to have such a tiny little tutor reminding me once again about the core principles of life.  It is amazing what the effect of living out these seven basic rules has on our lives.  When we refocus on the things that are truly important all the other nonsense and baggage we tend to hold onto just fades away.  Let us heed the lessons these tiny humans teach us.

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