A friend of mine wrote this post about helping her young one to begin a path to learning kindness. 🙂 I am working on this path with Dorian everyday as well.
This month, my sweet and silly 11-month-old baby has developed a new habit of swatting. She does it when she’s tired, excited, or frustrated, and it’s her way of communicating that emotion or need to us. Regardless, being swatted in the face isn’t pleasant, so 3-4 times a day my husband and I lightly redirect her hands and encourage her to be gentle.
That’s a powerful little hand.
Be gentle. I’ve repeated that phrase so often lately: patiently, calmly again and again.
I’m not always the most patient. I don’t always communicate my needs with grace. I can be downright demanding. I can approach a disagreement with a certain amount of righteousness. I’m often quick to judge and quick to speak, and the result is sometimes that I say things I wish I’d said kindlier—or not at all.
When I tell my daughter to be gentle, I’m asking her…
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Mama and Daddy and me all go out for walks and runs and play sessions outside a lot. I can go and ride on my little balance bike, and I can run as fast as I can, and I can go and play with the bugs under the rocks and throw little rocks into the water near our little house. I love being outside in the warm, warm sun, and I love to feel the ground beneath me when I run so fast, so fast, that no one can catch me… not even the wind can keep up. No one, apparently, but shadow me.
When I was outside last time, I noticed while I was on my little bike and I noticed that a bigger version of me had made the ground dark in the shape of me, but bigger. I said, “what is that?” because I had never noticed that I had another me following me around before. My Daddy stopped me, and he explained that it was my “shadow,” and that it goes everywhere that I go, all over the place. He didn’t get too much into the “how” yet because he said I wouldn’t understand until I was a bit bigger, but he showed me instead how he had a biggggg shadow and that when you lean down really low that you can make shapes with your hands and move your shadow around the way that you want for it to go.
Then I tried it out myself, and I made my hands move all around while my shadow-hands moved with me. Everywhere I moved, they moved, and Daddy was right… I couldn’t get away from my shadow. My Mama says there is a boy who once lost one somehow named Peter that had to have it sewed back on, but she says not to worry because that can’t happen to me. I’m glad, because I like my shadow Dorian. I am never alone as long as I have her with me after all.
My Daddy is so, so smart, and he says he will teach me all sorts of things as I get bigger. As I tell Mama, I am so, so big already that I am practically grown. I have to admit, though, that I still have a lot of things to learn, and my Daddy is the best teacher that I could possibly have as I figure everything out and as I grow.
“All children, except one, grow up.” — J.M. Barrie
My great aunt Chris’ birthday was yesterday, and a little bit before that, we had a surprise birthday party that my cousin Mandy planned so that we could all celebrate with her. My great aunt Chris is one of the very nicest people that you will ever hope to meet. She gives and gives and gives and gives all of her heart to all of the people around her that she loves (and there are a lot of those).
Chris’ celebration was also because of the end of her treatments for something that the bigger people around me call “cancer.” I don’t really understand what that is, but my Mama says not to worry because I don’t need to know anything about it quite yet. She said, though, that Chris had a long time of getting medicines that made her kind of sick to make her all better again. That is why she is wearing that fancy headscarf, but now that she is all done with the treatments, she won’t be wearing the fancy headscarves for too much longer (unless you want to Aunt Chris… you do look really fashionable you know).
I got to do a lot of things at the party like eating food before I was really supposed to (my Mama says that I can get away with these things because I am so little), playing with hula hoops and giant balls, and running around in the giant gym over and over again. I also got to stare at the Peanuts cake that was right in the middle of the room every time that I passed it.
The best part, though, was getting to help blow the candles out of that Peanuts cake with Chris. She said that she couldn’t blow candles out quite as well these days, so she needed to have my help. So suddenly, even though it was Chris’ birthday, it was like it was part mine too because everyone all around was singing the happy birthday song and I got to sit in front of the cake on Chris’ lap and blow out all of those candles with her. Everyone clapped and cheered, and I felt like the life of the party. Honestly, that was about it for me because all of that action packed adventure was a lot for a little person to take in. I slept like “a rock” that night, Daddy said, whatever that means.
Happy birthday again, Chris, and many, many more to come.
I have been told that I am “beautiful” for a while. I knew what pretty was, but “beautiful”… well, I could not really understand that one. I responded every single time for a while, “I’m not beautiful, I Dorian.” My Mama and Daddy laughed at me, but I was serious. I know who I am… I AM DORIAN.
The other day, though, my sister Adalyn took me upstairs to her room, and she put me in some of her dress clothes that she is too big for now. I tried on dress after dress, and Adalyn called down to my Mama and told her that she couldn’t come up to see what we were doing. Mama usually won’t listen to that one because it can mean trouble, but this time she waited for the surprise.
Then we tried it… the most fancy white dress that looked like a princess dress. It was a teeny bit big on me, but it was just the right one. Adalyn smoothed out my hair and brushed it, and then she put on the finishing touch, blue clip-on earrings that made me just like the princesses that I watch. I felt so very pretty.
When I walked down those stairs, just like a princess would in my fancy shoes and earrings and dress, I felt different. I felt so very grown up and big, but I did not know the word for how I felt.
Then Adalyn said it. She said, “Look Mama, doesn’t Dorian look so beautiful?” My Mama said, “Oh Dorian, you are so very beautiful. You look like a princess.” For the first time, I did not argue back. I knew what it meant, and I was… I was beautiful, just like the flowers outside and the stars in the sky. Beautiful is how you feel. Beautiful is flowers and trees and sunshine and mountains and water. Beautiful is me. I am Dorian, and I am beautiful.
Spring has finally come, and with it are beautiful things in all kinds of colors everywhere. I love seeing all of the bright pinks and whites and yellows and purples that the Earth has this time of year. I stop to see (and smell) all of the flowers. After all, isn’t that what you are supposed to do? I know that it takes longer, but enjoying the world is what us little people do. We are really good at noticing what big people miss sometimes… after all, we are closer to the ground, and we have a better view.
My very favorite flower is the dandelion. My Mama says that is her very favorite too because my Daddy calls her his dandelion, so it is very special for her. Dandelions are “weeds” though so I hear, which is a type of flower that a lot of people want to get rid of. Why they would want to make any flower go away I don’t know, but my Daddy says that they can take over the yard and they can go everywhere with their little blooms, so a lot of people don’t like them because they just want green grass and nothing else in the yard. Doesn’t make sense to me, but big people often don’t make any sense at all, so I just have to go with these things when I don’t understand them.
What those big people don’t understand is that Dandelions are really special flowers because they start as one thing and become another. They start out as little yellow flowers, then that part goes away, and then there are little bitty white fluffy seeds that blow in the wind and make new yellow ones all over the place. This, my Daddy says, is why the are called a weed, because they end up all over the place when the little seeds blow around. There end up being too many, he says. Silly big people… don’t they know that there can never, ever be too many flowers?
I think that my little dandelion friends are beautiful, and I do my part to help them to grow instead of stomping them down. Us little people (and big people who never wanted to grow up like Mama and Daddy) get to grab the white puffballs and blow on them, making their seeds go up in the air into the wind to go to new places to grow. They do this on their own, but I like to think that I am helping nature along to be faster when I spread them around.
I am busy making brand new dandelions, and they are all so very beautiful, just as nature intended them to be. We are all like dandelions if we want to be, beautiful little flowers that are wild and free and can move in the wind.
My Daddy is so silly, and he made me a little apple buddy to play with that had a face and little hands. I called him Mr. Apple, and I played with him, telling him, “Don’t worry, Mr. Apple, I won’t hurt you.” I had him play with my little Barbie dolls, and they talked to each other and had a great time. I was even wearing my Snow White dress, and I know that an evil witch gave her an apple too, so I was just like her (well, except for the fact that my Mr. Apple was not a poisoned apple and was a dressed up apple instead, but otherwise, it was just like the movie).
See? There he is. Isn’t he cute? The problem with Mr. Apple, though, is that deep down I knew that he was an apple. Deep down I knew that he was one of my favorite foods, and I knew that he was delicious under all of that cute. After a while of playing with him, I took his hands off and took a bite of him. My Mama heard me chomping on him… I just couldn’t resist his deliciousness.
He was just pretend after all, and he was food, so he couldn’t go to waste. He couldn’t have stayed my play friend for long because he would have gotten all yucky, so I made sure that he was nice and happy in his new place… in my belly. I’m sure that there will be a new apple buddy soon, and he just might meet the same fate… because apples? They are one of our very best foods. Crunch.
My Nana bought me a little magnet drawing pad to use in the car as I get bored these days really easily, and my Mama and Daddy are not “stay still” kind of folks. I love my new board so much because I love to draw. I draw on paper all of the time, but I have a hard time with the pen sometimes, and I run out of paper. When that happens, sometimes my art has spilled onto the furniture and a few of my toys. My Mama says, “Only on the paper, Dorian,” and I know and understand, but it is really, really tempting to keep making art everywhere that I go.
With my little magnet pad, though, I never run out of room to draw, because when I get tired of my picture, I just make it go away and then I start right over again with a blank magnet page. I can do this as many times as I would like, and there are no art accidents that way. Everyone is happy.
In that picture up at the top, those are two pirates. When I drew them I told Mama and Daddy, and Mama took a picture of me making my art. Mama thought that they were ghosts, but that is the beauty of art… we can all see different things.
Sometimes I draw something really scary to me, though, and I have to scratch it out really fast before erasing it because that takes longer. Our minds can sometimes create really weird things when we do not mean for them to, just like when we dream and things start to go wrong and everything gets dark. I don’t know why the scary guy came out on the magnet pad, but I made him disappear, and fast.
No matter what, though, scary mind people or not, I am going to keep making art and making pictures on paper and on my magnet pad. It is the way that I can show the world that there are so many beautiful pictures in my mind… and those pictures can become my art on canvas.