In 2016 I was introduced to a new member of the family: my nephew. I'm not naturally very maternal, so when I had to interact with a baby in the family, it was a bit confusing and at times, awkward. Several months later, I think me and my nephew have come to some form of mutual respect. He doesn't talk just as yet, but he certainly gets his point across and since his existence, he's reminded me about a few things that could make life a bit easier:
1. be real
My nephew doesn't 'fake smile' or cry for no good reason. When you try to make him laugh, if he didn't find it funny, he won't laugh. As cold as that sounds, when he does smile and laugh, we know that he really meant it. Equally when he cries, we know something is up.
2. stop eating when you're full
I wouldn't suggest spitting the food in your mouth out when you're full, or throwing it on the floor like he does, especially in public. But when your stomach is full, there is no benefit from overeating to anyone, including yourself and at times, those around you.
I personally love a good hug, and I can swear by the effect it has on your mood (this depends on who you're hugging). My nephew loves a cuddle from his approved list of people who can come near him. According to Virginia Satir, who was an American therapist:
“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth." - mindbodygreen.com
So keep giving and receiving those free hugs.
4. one step at a time
Last week, he gave all of us a bit of a shock when he climbed all the stairs in the house. I watched him attempt the stairs a few times before, measuring up each step with his little legs, gradually increasing the number of steps that he covered. There was no rush, no panicking, just slow, individual baby steps that helped him reach his ultimate goal: his grandma, who gives him lots of hugs.
He's already a bit of an explorer, having been to 7 countries before the ripe old age of two. It's a shame he won't remember any of his trips as a baby, but his Instagram account (where_is_arjun) can do that for him. Hopefully he will carry on traveling when he's older to explore different places, people, food and culture and perhaps relive the trips he can't remember.
6. adverts are annoying
Especially when you're watching an episode of CSI, when they're about to reveal the mystery murderer, or the last few overs of a tight match of Cricket. And in that moment you're interrupted by meerkats or a loud man singing about insurance. My nephew starts screaming in protest when an advert comes in between him and LBB (Little Baby Bum). I don't blame him. Thankfully, we can now 'Skip Ads' on YouTube and fast forward on Sky TV, so there is hope.
7. learn from your mistakes
The little one is generally quite careful, but if he does bump his head on the same bar stool more than twice, we would be surprised. He carefully avoids the obstacle afterwards, and carries on with a new route. It's an example of perseverance and learning from mistakes.
8. laugh more
It's very infectious. When babies laugh, you need to be dead inside if you're not smiling, at least. Sometimes there is no reason whatsoever. Or there's a bird, a bulb, someone's hair... anything can set my nephew off on one, with an inevitable domino effect on the rest of us around him. Laughter, like hugs, is another free source of endorphins, so we need to let ourselves 'LOL' at every opportunity we have.
I'm sure there are other things to learn from babies, like eating and sleeping on time, making sure you keep some time aside in your schedule to play (all work and no play is not good for anyone), asking questions, crying for help when required... the list is endless. The bottom line is, we were all babies once, and those were good times, when everyone did everything for you. But just because we're all much older and independent doesn't mean the rules have changed. Just have a conversation with the next baby or young child and you'll get the reminder you may need.
and finally... meet my nephew: arjun