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Learning From Little Ones

Photograph by Getty Images/Flickr Open

It's amazing to me that in the short 17 months Hoke has entered our lives he has taught me so much. We all go through life covering up our feelings, talking about things behind each other's backs, lying and backstabbing. Life would be so much easier if we just lived like a 17-month-old!

1. If You’re Angry, BE ANGRY! Stomp your feet, yell, scream. Talk about your feelings. Tell the person who has wronged you how they made you feel; tell the person who hurt you that you are hurt. You will feel better, you will feel respected, and you may save a friendship. Don't cover up your feelings—a 17-month-old sure doesn't! You know when they are mad as they make it well known. The neighbor may know too, or all those other shoppers in Target. But they get it out and they feel better after! So tell people when you are hurt, mad or upset. Then show them your bellybutton; works every time!

2. Be Honest, Stop Lying. Just tell it like it is. Don't necessarily go around giving unsolicited advice like a 17-month-old (my son loves to point out moles and say ew), but if someone asks your opinion or you need to tell someone something that you feel is important, tell them and be honest about it. What works in our house is to start the conversation, “UH OH... ew.” Try it. It's a great ice breaker.

3. Let Simple Things Bring You JOY. Hoke loves trucks. When we are out and a truck goes by, it doesn't matter if it's an 18 wheeler or a Ford F150: He stops, stares, and says “Truck….WOW” It's a truck! We see 100s of them a week, but he notices each and every one, and it makes him so happy. Let little things make you happy. Stop and notice the flowers, the birds. Don't let the pile of dishes, your stack of papers at work, or your lack of whatever it is in life make you stop enjoying the small things you do have. A 17-month-old enjoys everything and to them it is mostly firsts! The first time having ice cream, the first time playing bubbles, the first time swinging in a swing. Live life like that, the big things won’t seem so big anymore—unless it's an 18 wheeler; they are pretty big.

4. Be Silly and Laugh. STOP COMPLAINING! Sometimes I'm in the trenches and feeling sorry for myself. And here comes Hoke who says “Hi” and pounces on me, covering me in kisses and hugs and them proceeds to show me where my hair, eyes, nose and mouth all are. You know in case I forgot. He is silly! He doesn't even mean to be silly, but he is and it makes problems melt away. That smile lights up a room. Be that way! When things get you down, be silly. Dance, sing, make funny faces, even if it’s while you are alone and you do it in the camera on your phone. Just be silly!

One of my very best friends (who I often couldn't get through a day without) texted me the funniest story of what had just happened in their house that night. It went something like this:

Jen: Did you know that between 18 months and 3 years a child has the biggest developmental growth?

Jen's husband to their daughter who is 19 months: Abby, what is the only even prime number?

Abby: BUBBLES!

Jen's husband: Yeah, we aren't there yet.

Jen's husband just finished the bar, where he worked his you know what off while they have a 19-month-old and are expecting a second in October. They could complain all the time but do they? No, They are silly and fun and enjoy every moment they have together! Be like that!

5. Sing and Dance. It doesn't matter if I have Taylor Swift blasting in the car or Hoke has pressed a button on a book that sings, he dances. The song could last three minutes or three seconds: He dances. We chase Hoke every day down the hall, and often he stops simply to take a dance break. Hoke wakes up singing (if he isn't sick of course) almost every time. Sing and dance, no matter how silly you look (see above)!

6. And Last: LOVE! Love with all your heart. Love with every ounce of your being, with every breath you take, and with everything you have. Love. You can be gone for 10 seconds and come back in the house and Hoke is so excited to see you, it's like you have been gone a month. He runs and hugs your legs, he dances, he brings a book to read, he smiles. Love like that! Be happy every time your spouse walks in the door (maybe don't bring a Sandra Boyton book, but if you show them your belly button I can guarantee that may make them happy (see #1)!!). Show your friends love; let them know how much they mean to you. Hoke and his friends chase each other, they laugh, they share, they have screaming competitions. Love like that! Hug your friends and family every chance you get. A big, wrap your arms around them bear hug. Don't let those you love question how much you love them, tell them and show them every chance you get.

I'm sure Hoke will teach me many more things as he gets older, but so far these are some great lessons I have taken away from our precious time together. I hope you will take a few and make them new rules in your life!

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