It’s time to see life through the eyes of a child

By Thabiso Mahlape

If you have been reading this column, you will know that I have a daughter – the most, most beautiful 19- month-old you have ever seen (no, I’m not biased).

 

One of the parenting routes I have taken with her is to introduce books to her at an early age. We have been reading since she was just a few months old.

I have no way of knowing yet if she understands what books are and indeed what their purpose is.

But it has been a great pleasure watching her develop from the little chubby baby who wanted nothing but to chew on her books to being the toddler who pages through books and is able to follow visuals.

I adore watching her engage with her books. Of late, her engagement is thus: she flips open a page and the wind is always almost knocked out of her by the visuals. She sits there, eyes popping out of her skull with the cutest squeals of delight.

She lingers on the page, as though the very secrets of the future have been revealed to her on that page and tries to string together sentences that in turn make me squeal.

This is her exact same reaction with every new page.

While watching her do this one evening towards the end of 2015, I realised that we as adults are miserable because we have forgotten what babies know and practise so beautifully, the art of staying in the moment.

In the last three hours of last year my father had just walked past and asked that I come and join the rest of the family outside at the braai as we prepared to usher in the new year.

I had been watching social media with keen interest and perhaps some amusement as people looked back on the year that was and made assumptions about what the next year will be like.

This is exactly what we do, isn’t it? Always looking back, hopelessly wishing the past away and trying to influence the future. We have read over and over again and been told many a time and yet fail to hear that the two days we have no control over are yesterday and tomorrow.

In 2015, one of my biggest preoccupations was trying to make ends meet. As the year came to a close, the ends were further away from meeting than they were when I started out.

In this sometimes senseless chase and lack of patience and trust in the process, I missed out on the opportunity to celebrate some of the greatest moments and achievements of my life, simply because they did not register in the bank.

What is even crazier is how oblivious I was to this until that night I noticed my daughter’s new reading pattern.

Planning and anticipation are important exercises to undertake if one is ever to be successful at anything. What we cannot allow, though, is for those exercises to overtake our lives.

When the day is done and all has been said and done, one ought to have lived, laughed and loved.

In 2016, I hope to carry my daughter’s lesson with me at all times. To embrace every situation as it comes and to make the most of it and I hope that you will too.

Whether one is walking uphill or downhill, we should always remember to stop and smell the flowers.

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