I am writing this at the tail end of an extended long weekend. I had an amazing few days off work from my day job and for the first time since December I had an entire Saturday to myself. I proceeded to spend that day in the shop with my husband helping him with a project but it was lovely to have some extra time to spend with him, being productive, laughing and talking about life.
Easter Sunday was spent with both our families sharing food as is the custom on this holiday. We arrived at brunch at my in-laws to a house full of food and I gladly welcomed the chance to eat second breakfast. The easter egg hunt for the little kids followed in due haste since the only thing holding them off was the completion of breakfast. We then went home to laze about before heading out to dinner at my sister-in-law’s house. There is always a stark contrast in atmosphere between the two families. Perhaps it is the fact that there are more little kids in my family or that there are so many of us, having multiple conversations at the same time, that we must compete by being increasingly louder. I love it.
We are very lucky to come from big families with lots of kids. I became an aunt at twelve years old when my oldest brother and his wife welcomed their first baby. It is one of the greatest joys in my life to be called an aunt. I have such a special relationship with each one of my nieces and nephews who range in age from a couple of months old to twenty-three years old. And while I like to think I have been able to impart wisdom and teach them a thing or two over the years, I know that what I have learned from them will far exceed anything I could ever hope to teach.
We are born free. Each time I have held a newborn baby, I can see the entire world in their little being. They are full of infinite promise and potential. No one looks at a newborn baby and says: “they are not perfect, smart, tall, intelligent enough.” When I see a baby, I connect with the miraculous. We are born free. We are born a total and utter miracle. I have thirteen nieces and nephews just on my side alone. Each one of them reminds me of how unlimited we truly are. They connect me back to where I came from and remind me that joy is my birthright. Perhaps this is why I gravitate to them at these gatherings. I believe that you can live a joyful life everyday and the kids, especially the little ones, embody this. Dropping into their world reminds me where I came from.
Lessons in Joy
You Can Be Whatever You Want – At one point before dinner, the two three year olds (almost four Aunty LB), were running up and down the hallway as fast as they could. Each time they came back into the living room they asked us adults; “did you even see us? We are lightening!!!” Imagination is lightening rod for joy and I couldn’t help but get caught up in their enthusiasm. The simple joy with which they played together and the way they drew us into their world was a gift from them to us.
Everything Can Be Made Into a Game – Shortly after the lightening bolts began their racing, two of the older kids joined in on the fun. They needed to up the stakes though and through some quick ingenuity and some participation by an uncle the time trials for hallway racing began. It was so much fun to cheer them on and watch them push to beat their best time. It was pure and simple fun.
Create – Shortly after we arrived for dinner, the five little kids (ages 3-7) were outside playing. I stepped out into the sun for a while before we ate and could see that they were making something. When I asked if it was mud pies they sharply corrected me and told me they were mud burgers. I joined in on the fun and we began some sidewalk chart art with the kids teaching me how to draw their favorite things. They let me into their world and taught me how to create. And while I took a somewhat linear approach to my art, they had no boundaries. They mixed colours and created stories about what their figures were doing and eating. I loved every moment of learning and creating and getting covered in chalk.
Own It – After brunch there was an egg hunt for the kids, which is always the best thing to watch. The looks on their faces are priceless. At the end, with all the eggs gathered it came time to divide them equally. My nephew began counting out the eggs into even piles for his sister and him and from one to ten his counting was impeccable. When he got into the teens, things went awry and he bounced back and forth between eleventeen and sixteen. He owned it though. Eleventeen, sixteen, eleventeen, sixteen until all the eggs were divided. He was so proud of himself and while I couldn’t help but giggle at his made-up numbers I loved that he went for it!
Laugh – The greatest gift that I get from the little kids is a reminder to be fully present and to own the joy I enjoy every day. My little three-year-old niece was telling knock-knock jokes and other funny stories. Her timing was impeccable and once she got the first laugh she went around to every adult in the room and told them the same jokes. Even just watching the way the kids interact with one another or the way they communicate and the things that they say, makes my laugh endlessly. Laughing immediately brings you into the present moment and being immersed into the mind and world of five kids under seven provides endless laughter.
Bounce Back – Amongst all the noise and laughter and fun yesterday, there was inevitably a few tears shed before dinner. Perhaps it was the occasional sugar crash or a hurt feeling. The thing that always makes me laugh is that despite a moment of pouting or the odd meltdown, they always come back to joy. No one stays in the land of sadness very long. They take the time they need, feel it and then drop it. Little kids don’t beat themselves up for having a bad thought or a meltdown. Yesterday they were back to playing before the tears had fully dried.
A Powerful Reminder
If you ever need a reminder about how to live your life, drop into the world of a small kid. Let them take you on an adventure, let them teach you and let them make you laugh. I am still smiling after my time with the kids yesterday. Sure they are funny and have a ton of energy, but more than anything, they are still in the space of freedom and joy. They remind me that joy remains in the simple things. We were born free, born into joy and more than anything, we must simply reconnect to the place within each of us that knows this truth.
So tell me: How can you find joy today?