Littlest Teacher

My daughter is sitting on the potty, singing her favorite song from the Muppets soundtrack, "I've got everything that I need, right in front of meee...." 

It's 11:00 at night and we just got home from the ER. Her cold turned into wheezing and breathing issues, leading us to spend hours waiting to see what the cause might be. It was emotionally exhausting, and we both felt so much attachment to the situation and all that it brought up. We had been doing breathing treatments to her all day, every four hours, and each time we felt more and more anxiety and fear. We thought back to when she was a year old, the ER trip, the low oxygen levels, the breathing treatments that did nothing. It all flooded back like it was yesterday, instead of 2 years ago. 

After getting an all-clear from the doctor, my husband and I took her home, exhausted and depleted.

However, our daughter could not have cared less. She sang happily, "I've got everything that I need, right in front me," she repeats," Life's a happy song..."

She felt no attachment to the what had just happened. At the hospital, we coached her through being scared, nervous, and upset, but those emotions left as quick as they appeared. And there she was, at the end of the night, as happy as ever, now coaching us, without even knowing it.

It is in that moment that I realize, as she sings, her feet dangling 4 inches from the bathroom floor, why I decided to share mindfulness with kids. I see that it is not about what I hope to teach them, but, instead, what they teach me.

As a baby, children are fully present, completely engaged in what is right in front of them. They aren't making to-do-lists, or wondering when the next thing will come. They are totally satisfied with the simplest of pleasures. 

As they grow, distractions begin to seep in. Suddenly, as parents, we become afraid of what might happen when our child becomes bored. So, we feel the need to constantly entertain and they no longer have to work at being present. (But that's a whole other blog post...)

In our most authentic state, as our truest selves, we are mindful. We are present. We are in the moment. Not consumed with the future, the past, or the stories we carry. We are immersed in the "now" without any attachment to what our senses are experiencing. We let the world flow through us like breath. 

Mindfulness not something we achieve by working hard. It's not some technique we learn so that we can focus. It is something that only happens when we open ourselves to it. When we make room for it. When we don't force our thoughts away, but, instead, let them flow through us like waves, and we finally accept what IS. It is then that we experience the fullness of life and all it has to offer.

That is why I chose to experience mindfulness with children. Every class, as we immerse ourselves in play, whatever it might be, I become like a child again and  these small teachers show me the richness of the "now." I see that, by letting myself open up to play, I am living more mindfully than ever.

I smile to myself as my daughter lays knowledge on me, like only she can,

"Everything is great
Everything is grand
We've got the whole wide world in the palm of my hand..." 

"Everything is perfect
It's falling into place
I can't seem to wipe this smile off my face
Life's a happy song...."

I come to help her finish getting ready for bed. I hug her extra tight and think to myself, "Yes, yes it is. Life is the happiest song," allowing me to fully embrace the moment and be present with my littlest teacher.

Emily Behr