Life Lessons from a 4 Year-Old
Raising three boys, under the age of ten years old can be a difficult task for any human being to undertake. Some days are better than others, but I would not change it for the world. Every day I learn something new from my children and they never cease to amaze me. Earlier today, I learned the true meaning of resilience, pursuit, and strong will. Hell, maybe even life.
The boys are 9, 6, and 4 years old. They are constantly active and will compete in every task, even putting on their pajamas. The youngest is extremely wise for his years and is never one to be left on the sideline because of his age or size. He wants to do everything his older brothers do and does not want any accommodations to make life easier. If brothers do it, he is going to do it too! Obviously, as parents, we make that final decision. One example, his oldest brother loves to make himself eggs in the morning, but a 4-year-old around the stove is a bond fire waiting to happen.
His desire to keep pace with his brothers is something that just seemed commonplace and nothing to really think of as special. Looking back though, he has done some remarkable things to ensure he was not left behind. Two things come to mind and one of them happened today. First, let me just tell you, at the age of 2 ½, this kid potty trained himself! Now, I was able to use a specific method of potty training for the other two boys that was super successful. The oldest was potty trained in 8 hours and the other was potty trained in about 4 hours. All were potty trained before 3 years old. We never had to worry about the youngest. He observed, imitated, and performed. One day, I walked into the bathroom and he was “using the potty like a big boy.” He never looked back.
I thought that was impressive but also, he just pointed and pissed. No Einstein here. Today was a different story. Today he did something I don’t think I have heard of before and have never seen before. To give a little context, I make sure to spend solo time with each of the boys every week. On Saturdays, one of the boys gets “hangout time” with Dad. This is one on one time doing whatever they want without their brothers tagging along. Three kids, each gets a Saturday respectively, and the 4th Saturday of the month, the wife and I go on a date night.
Back to my youngest, Aydris. He had been asking for weeks to learn how to ride his bike without training wheels. He wanted to ride just like his brothers. I told him during our next hangout, I would teach him. Well, it rained on the day of the next hangout. That meant he had to wait three weeks before it was his hangout again to try, unless we had a day planned at the park or some outing where he could learn to ride (we didn’t).
Over the next few weeks, when he was outside in the backyard, he would grab his older brother’s bike and try to ride on his own. I would immediately shut it down because the bike was simply too big. He had to be on his tippy toes to touch the ground while sitting on the seat. He would get pissed off and try to say he knew what he was doing but I wasn’t having it. Today was a different story. He grabbed his brother’s bike and started to try and ride while I was outside getting in a workout. I told him to get off and just wait until hang out. He had another thing in mind. He was going to show me that he knew how to ride a bike and pleaded his case while trying to keep the bike upright.
I wanted to finish my workout and when the kids keep pressing on certain issues, I will eventually let them face the natural consequences. I said, “Okay, but I warned you.” I was waiting for the scream that would frighten the neighbors and ready to help him up to wash his wounds. “Look Daddy!” I turned my head and this damn kid is riding a bike too big for him, looking at me smiling as he pedals forward. “You have got to be kidding me,” I thought to myself. He did it! He taught himself how to ride a bike.
I immediately praised the hell out of him, ran in and told his Mom and brothers to come watch. We all jumped in joy and cheered him on like he scored the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. I went to the truck and grabbed my tools. Taking off the training wheels to his bike (I still didn’t want him riding his brother’s bike), I was astonished at the courage, confidence, and belief he had in himself this whole time. He was still a little wobbly on his brother’s bike and I was excited to see him ride on something that fit his height. This kid hopped on and took off. He never looked back. He was riding up and down the drive way. The only instructions I had to give him were to remember to use his brakes and slow down as he was coming in for a turn. He spent the rest of the afternoon riding his bike with his brothers. Another milestone down and he did it by simply watching others, trying himself, but most of all, a full tilt belief that he was already successful at it.
I think we can all take something from this little guy. Having complete confidence in your abilities and not letting someone else tell you that you can’t do something is a recipe for success. He never questioned if he could. Failure was not even a thought. He was going to ride, and it was just a matter of getting Dad to get off his back. He succeeded in that aspect and then proved me wrong and himself right. I was amazed at the level of pure faith he had in himself and his abilities. If we could all maneuver through the world in this manner, we would be wildly successful. He knew no limits and was rewarded. Thank you for that gift son. My faith is not as strong as yours but one day I hope to get there.
Now, I am just waiting for him to wipe his own ass or maybe I should just teach him / tell him to do it.