Now as a working adult, one of the big kids, I notice more and more each day how easy it is to forget. You forget your keys, to send an email and about that important meeting, but those are the little things. What about what you learned when you were just a kid, still memorizing math tables and playing tag at recess. The truth is, most of us learned everything we needed when we were small, and the bigger truth is that we all forgot.
1. Treat Others The Way You Want to Be Treated
How many times did you hear that growing up? That if you had nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all and that you had to think about it from their point of view or putting yourself in their shoes as the metaphor goes. How often do we think about this today? So often do we only think of ourselves that we loose sight of the feelings and treatment of others. We’re so quick to frustration that we don’t realize we’ve probably been in the same position as the person on the other end.
2. Race Issues are Not About the Color of Our Skin
I’ll race you to the end of the park and back, first one back is the winner. Ready, go! You run your hardest, pumping your arms and feeling the rush through your hair and face. You tag the tree and sprint back towards the finish line where a crowd of your classmates has gathered. You look next to you and see he’s still right there, matching you stride for stride. Who wins, who stepped across the finish line first? These are race issues.
3. Keeping Asking Questions
Remember that cute and then really annoying phase we went through, maybe now your kids or grandchildren are going through where all they want to do is ask why? Well … why don’t we ask more questions? Why is this done this way? Why do you think that? Is there a better way? In class we were told to ask questions because chances were someone would have the same question. What happened, no one asked the question and look where that has gotten us. It doesn’t show stupidity to ask a question, it shows stupidity when you assume you have the right answer only to realize you were wrong.
4. Paint With All the Colors of the Wind
Disney was onto something when they had Alan Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz compose “Colors of the Wind” for Pocahontas. The whole song tells the story of actually getting to know people even when they are different from you, and actually appreciating our natural resources for something besides what we can make with it. These are songs written for children, messages that children understand, so why is it so difficult for adults to remember?
5. If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Try Again
Looking into the eyes of the youngest generation, you want to give them everything, make sure that they have every opportunity. One of the biggest lessons you taught them to reach these opportunities was, to do their best and keep at it if it was something they really wanted. Making the basketball team, getting every word right on the spelling test or having the best lemonade stand. Why when the going gets tough, do adults just quit when children try harder? Why when two sides can’t agree, do they just sit in their own corners and give up working together. Can you imagine if two 2nd graders were partnered up for a project, even though they didn’t get along, would the teacher let them work on it separately? Hell no. They would make them work together because you’re taught to make compromises and work out your differences when you’re younger.
Take one more minute, remember your favorite playground game growing up. Remember your favorite ice cream bar when the ice cream truck came rolling down the street. Remember the fun you used to have with your friends and family. The make believe games you’d play. Remember all the wonder and ideas you had about the world. Now think about where you are today. Would that child, you from years ago, stand by your behavior today?
Children are wonderful for so many reasons. They give us hope, they make us laugh and as much as we like to think we teach them, they teach and remind us way more often. Take an extra moment and be patient with the person next to you, you have no idea what life they’re going through. Don’t assume someone should be treated a certain way just because of how they look. Be curious. Your way and your ideas may not always be the right or only way. Plan A doesn’t always have to work.
By no means are any of us going to be perfect, I know that I am not and I loose my patience with people all the time. That’s why I am writing this, to remind myself, to remind you and hopefully the person that you pass this along to, how we can all grow up a little and be kids again.