Children Teach Us First

This book revolves around passing life lessons to my son.

These lessons are also relevant for teachers, coaches, mentors, or parents to pass on. All of us wanting to provide precious learning to the ones we are shepherding–all hoping that our ‘sons’ and ‘daughters’ do not have to reinvent the wheel, make the same mistakes, or even learn the hard way.

However in our excitement to teach, we forget that often times we are the ones who are taught. And that whatever role we may be playing–parenting, mentoring, teaching, we are always blessed and left richer by the experience.

I want to share about a moment where this truth hit home, real hard. A moment of truth. This happened when Dan was about two-and-a-half.

I had just returned from work, tired from the commute and corporate pressure. As I flopped on my bed feeling a little sorry  for being caught in the rat race, Dan came up and lay beside me. It was conversation time for him – ‘Dad and Son’ time. So when his mom tried to enter the room, he told her it is his time for man-to-man talk. Complying with his request, Joyce stepped out of the room, but didn’t really leave the conversation. She was eager to find what Dan was up to. On my part though, I wasn’t really in the mood for a deep conversation at the end of a tiring day.

With parental obligation taking over, I turned to him and asked if he knew what the philosophy of life meant?

Now you must visualize the setting. Dan is lying down with his legs crossed in the air, corporate style, nodding as if answering my questions. His nods and his cute behaviour goaded me further, so I asked if he could repeat the word, ‘Philosophy’. Remember, he is two-and-a-half. He had been going to a play school but they sure hadn’t taught him to say ‘Philosophy’ as yet. He tried to say the word but couldn’t, so I ask if he knew what the word meant?

He nodded sagely again. Something was happening, and in trying to keep the conversation going I continued, “Dan, it means the meaning of life”. He nods again as if taking it all in. Here’s when I begin to download on the poor child. ‘Dan’, I said, ‘the meaning of life is all good things come to an end’. He continues his nod, and from the corner of my eye I can see Joyce trying to decipher where this conversation was going, while at the same time marvelling at the boy who was holding his own.

However by now, the game had begun. I was really curious to understand what this toddler was up to. So I turn to him and ask him to repeat what he understood.  As a true Trainer, I was applying the principles of feedback, but on a child, shame on me, really. What he repeated back to me though, still echoes in my heart. A life lesson of immense magnitude; a life lesson for which I am tremendously grateful. For in that single phrase he changed that tired evening into the beginning of a new paradigm.

I had implied that life was a downhill slide; and that in life, ‘all good things came to an end’, but when he repeated it back to me, he said with all the innocence of a child — “All good things come in the end”.

That was a knock on the side of my head, a kick on my rear, and a jolt of new hope to my heart. His mom was already in and had scooped him up in her arms, for even she understood I had learned a lesson that day that will be useful all my life.


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