I’m not a parent, and actually from a young age I always knew I wasn’t going to have kids. But I do have nieces and nephews (three of each) who are very special to me, not the least being my youngest niece, 18 month old L. The reason she is so special is that I have been around to see her grow from birth, whereas the others are older and I have lived away from them. The others, I got to see maybe a couple of times a year at most, although I should point out that L has older brothers nearby too who marvel at my inability to grasp the technological age. But L is teaching me a few things about the simpler things of life.
Recently I was at her house and L was playing with play doh that her mother had made for her. I have to admit I looked at this pile of doh and thought L’s parents were a bit boring because they hadn’t coloured the doh. But L didn’t mind. She didn’t need the expensive, brightly colours, store-bought variety. She was having a ball with what she had. I also was thinking about how I knew you could buy equipment to play with play doh, and initially thought L had life a bit tough because she just had a few bottle tops, etc and a small rolling-pin. But again, she didn’t mind and it was quite clear that actually she would be happy playing for hours.Outside L has a sand pit, made out of a very large old tyre. I watched her there too, as she played. Again she didn’t need expensive toys, she was happy just running her hands through the sand. It made me realise how much fun she creates for herself out of very little. I’m not at all saying she is in any way deprived but rather that there is joy in the simple things.
Recently I read a blog post about appreciating the simple things, and for the life of me I can’t find it again. But one thing I remember is the point that if you set a young child in front of a sink of water they will be amused for hours. Not me though, it might take my interest for a few seconds if it had bubbles in it but otherwise I would quickly lose interest and walk away. The same with L’s older brothers who are 12 and 14. They want the games, the computer, the television, the mobile phone. They’ve been brought up exactly the same way as L, but now that they are older they want things to keep them entertained.
As I said, I’m not a parent and the last thing I would attempt to do is tell someone how to be a parent. I have little idea. But what I do know is that I need to find a way of finding the joy in the simple things. Find pleasure in what I have rather than always wanting more. Sometimes it’s all too easy to look at what other people have, and want what they have got. Particularly when you’re on a low income, there’s a temptation to be envious of others. I’m realising though that there is no need. I don’t need the fancy, bright coloured, store-bought play doh. The plain homemade doh is actually sufficient.
The other thing that L reminds me of is the need to be silly. I was at her house, and she was laughing. I have no idea what she was laughing about. Was it me? Was it her mum? Maybe it was the cat or the chickens outside? I don’t know but she was having fun, again with nothing. Actually I really like being silly. I always have, and I always will (hopefully). I have a pretty broad imagination and use it to be silly. I’m sure it’s healthy.
I have spoken about it in Silliness is good for my soul! and That Little Girl. I need to keep reminding myself of this because it’s all too easy to think we need to be grown up, responsible, and serious. But isn’t it captivating when a young child laughs at nothing? It brings a sense of joy into the room, and we forget our inhibitions.
L is incredibly good for my mental health because she has the ability to be silly and encourage me to do the same. Not only that but she can create joy out of everyday things. She is also very quick to spread her love around. She is quick to come to me for cuddle and just hangs on. She doesn’t know the difficulties of trying to make ends met, deciding what to cook for dinner, or even wonder what she should do with her life. She simply takes life as it comes. Each day is a new adventure. It’s really time I started following in her example… before she grows up and becomes like the rest of us. Unfortunately it will happen way to quickly.
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a
necessary ingredient in living.”
– Dr Seuss
- Silliness is good for my soul! (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- That Little Girl (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- 10 Fun Ways to Spark Your Creativity and Joy (psychcentral.com)
- The best thing about (beccain.wordpress.com)
- The Joy of Children (hopkinsfineportraits.typepad.com)