Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Do-Over Kind of Day

Life is good. No matter how badly you mess up a day, if you are very, very lucky you wake up the next morning and have a chance for a do-over.

I am perhaps one of the luckiest people I know. I work with children. Children are very much like puppies. If you give them the smallest bit of attention, they are all over you and won't leave you alone. But even better than that, they know how to love, live freely, forgive and forget.

If I was working in an office full of women, I highly doubt the-day-after-a-very-bad-day would be forgiven and forgotten so easily.

'That day' was a tough one on so very many levels. But when I woke up the next morning, I saw with glaring clarity that it wasn't 'the day' that was so bad. It was my reaction to it (holding onto my frustration and letting it infect the entire day) that was awful.

I had a little chat with myself. Just because I live and play with two and three year olds for fifty hours each week doesn't give me the excuse to behave like them. 

Who is the adult here?!?

I want to fill in that blank with the name of the three-year-old in my care. The second name that would go in that spot is my sixteen-year-old-son. I'm not sure if my name would come in before or after the two-year-old's names. That is just how badly I behaved on the day-I-would-most-like-to-do-over.

So my forgiving little crowd walked in the very next day like nothing had ever happened. I took ownership of my actions and reactions and acted accordingly throughout the day that followed.

Surprisingly, our day had the potential to be a complete and total repeat of the day before. Just because I had learned from my mistakes, doesn't mean my children did. 

Many of the same misdemeanors were repeated. Life is grand. It gave me a second chance to respond in the appropriate fashion. 

I took preventative measures (taping a diaper closed prevented a repeat of the prior day's catastrophe which pushed a bad day over the edge). 

I took what didn't work (taking my little daycare family out after our afternoon snack was a very bad idea because that is when one of my little people's digestive systems likes to 'take care of business') and fixed it (we went outside in the morning instead).

I hugged a little more and kept to myself a little less. I smiled more and scowled less. I spoke quietly and they listened more. I disengaged from my distractions and engaged with my little people more. 

We snuggled a bit. They went wild and crazy for a bit. It's funny. When allowed to 'run their course' nothing lasts too terribly long with two and three year olds. 

The good, the bad and the ugly all lasts for little more than one or two minutes if I just breathe through the moment and let it go.

Each time one of the two-year-olds have a toy the three-year-olds want, I tell them "Give them ONE minute. If you don't want it, they won't want it. Just give them ONE minute." As a rule, it takes less than a minute.

I have to remember to take my own advice. Give it ONE minute. Ride the wave. Breathe deeply and slowly count to sixty. It will pass (except for cleaning out that playpen and all the bedding and the child who removed their dirty diaper at the end of nap time on that very-bad-day ... that took more like FIFTEEN minutes. I should have breathed deeply and counted to nine hundred).

It always passes. 

The good stuff tends to linger if you let some of the bad stuff slide through your fingers. It's a little bit like cradling that hot cup of the coffee and savoring the caress of the warmth, the steam, the aroma and the sensation of knowing how much you are going to savor it.

Cradle the vision of the-day-you-want and it is amazing how much of it will come true.

Sure enough, the coffee cools. The cup empties. But if you take that moment to grasp onto the sensation you know it will bring before you enjoy it, somehow that 'cup of coffee' lingers long after it is gone.

Breathe through your day. Take it ONE minute at a time. Take a lesson from puppies and children - love, live freely, forgive and forget. I think they are the ones who have the art of living right.

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