Since my sophomore year of college, I’ve worked in a daycare. I loved the convenience (right next to the school), the flexible hours (around my classes, practice, and other part-time work schedules), and the inherent cuteness of working with little guys. What I didn’t expect, though, was how this little part-time job would change my life.
Children have a way of altering how you feel about the world. They are emotionally different than adults, in more ways than one. They see things as yes/no, up/down, hungry/tired. That means there really isn’t the complexity of anger or sadness or happiness in their minds that is in our adulty minds. There is one form of sadness and it comes with anything from someone taking a toy, to falling down and skinning a knee. With adults, sadness is multi-layered. It can be unable to function sadness, a pang-in-your-chest-for-a-second type of sadness, or it can be sadness mixed with anger–two dimensional.
In my years of working at the daycare, I’ve learned so much about little humans. They are innocent, able to forgive, and quick to look forward to the next toy, next meal, next moment of happiness. A child can lift you from the darkest of holes because that child does not have the mental capacity to over-analyze, to fret, or to feel stuck. Because that child only sees what its in the moment, and can only fixate on one emotion, he or she can teach you how to refocus on what matters–happiness–and the absence of all the external crap we so often let cloud our lives.
This is one of my little buddies.
I was feeling super down the other day, and I grabbed him for a hug. He just turned three and he’s super feisty, but what I love about him is how much love he has. No matter what time of day (except after you first wake him up in the morning…beware!) he is loving. He’ll pet my head, play with my hair, want to snuggle on my lap, and rub his nose on my cheek.
I was having the crappiest of all days, but his attitude changed mine around. Happiness, in his eyes, was a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, being on my lap, sticking his tongue out at my phone camera, getting tickled, and playing with cars. He found happiness in the simplest of things and it made me realize how often I keep myself from true happiness. I hold happiness out like a kite, but I don’t unwind the string. I keep hoping the kite will take off, but it has no where to go. I’m holding onto the string–my worries, my nervousness, my hidden anger, all the things on my mind–and the kite can’t, and won’t take flight.
As I tickled the crap out of this little guy, as I teased him and we took Snapchat selfies and laughed, I let go of the other things on my mind. The things that were bothering me, bringing me down, and especially, the things I have no control over. I chose, for the first time in a long while, to focus solely on that moment with that little boy. Refocusing on one emotion–happiness–I let that kite sail free.