This is an unusual post for me, especially since I’m not a mother with children to raise. I’m an aunt. As an aunt… do I really need to teach my nephews anything? (Except, maybe, how to get what they want from their grandparents and what their mother didn’t like when she was a kid?) My two nephews have very good parents, so they don’t really need me for life instruction. (And besides, the joy of being an aunt is that I get to indulge them and then send them home, right?)
When they slept over recently, however, I started thinking about the things that are good for children to know – and so for all of us to know – in order to live life well. Of course, there are the big things: the wonder of God, our Creator, Who loves us; the essential need in life to love; and the meaning of love itself. But I’m talking about simple and practical things — habits — that we should all be taught in childhood. And are never too old to learn.
In no particular order:
- Wash your face in the morning. It’s good to start each day with a fresh, clean outlook.
- Say please and thank you. Through the art of politeness, we can learn to take nothing for granted, to be responsive as well as responsible, and to have gratitude. Gratitude is the key to joy.
- Ask “Can I help?” This habit should be the response to every witnessed moment or story of difficulty, struggle, hardship, aggravation, or sorrow. Sometimes, we won’t have the skill set needed to fix the problem. Sometimes, the problem can’t be fixed. But there is always something that we can do: pray; make sure that we are providing a good example; and be supportive to those in need, sometimes just by listening sympathetically.
- Eat a healthy breakfast. Other people could write an entire blog post on this one habit, but not me. I just know how important it is to take care of your body so that you can have the length and strength of years to do God’s will. This doesn’t mean that you have to down some weird green shake or a bowl of twigs. Don’t forget to start your day by giving your body some protein and remember a bit of fruit or vegetable. (Yes, vegetable. Leftover chicken stirfry or a grilled cheese sandwich with a glass of orange juice makes more sense for breakfast than a doughnut or a pop tart.)
- Brush your teeth before you go to bed. Keep your chewers and smile healthy while practicing a bedtime routine to ease you into restorative sleep.
- Put things where they belong. An important organizational skill which prevents time wasted in confusion. But it also applies more broadly to life: having the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can — the wisdom to put things where they belong.
- Look a person in the eye when you say to that person, “Please” or “Thank you” or “Can I help?” Also maintain eye contact, heart contact, soul contact when telling a person, “I’m sorry… I forgive you… I love you.”
Happy back to school, everyone!
© 2018 Christina Chase
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.