Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lessons From My Son While on Vacation

My son and I just returned from a 10-day getaway to Idaho to visit my sister, Naomi. While away, we also found our way through Utah, Montana and Wyoming via our flight to SLC and a long weekend spent in Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. Even though it was vacation, I learned a lot. As usual, my teacher was the little guy, a 20-month old wise beyond his years.

1. Celebrate Everything. Whether it was a successful guess at his iPad game or the arrival of our meal at a restaurant, my kid claps for things more than anyone I know. He clapped when our plane took off. He clapped when it touched down. He clapped when he buckled up his highchair. He clapped when he got to go in the swimming pool. I would do well to celebrate little things like he does.

2. Sleep When You're Tired. I wasn't as strict on bed time for the little guy while we were on vacation. It became clear from the first night that I wouldn't be very successful anyway with enforcing an 8:30pm bed time when it was daylight until well after 9pm. Since it was vacation, we also weren't strict on when we had to be up in the morning which was crucial to the no strict bed time thing. As a result we generally got to sleep until we were no longer tired. I have a go go go personality and a go go go job so while sleeping when you're tired may seem like an easy concept, it is not something I often do for myself. Seeing the benefit of it for both of us over the past 10 days, I'm really really really going to try.

3. Get Excited. This kid has an unbelievably adorable excited face. I'm sure every parent probably thinks that about their child, but I dare you to see his excited face without laughing out loud. It's spontaneous and involves wide eyes, a wide open mouth and flapping hands. And it doesn't take him winning a million dollars or getting a promotion at work to get there. It happened over his pizza at dinner in West Yellowstone and at breakfast in Pocatello. (I'm sensing a food theme starting to develop which brings me to...)

In the big rocking chair.
4. Eat. For a small guy, my son sure knows how to eat. And just when you think he's done, he isn't. For someone who has been known to skip meals out of busy-ness or just because I'm too lazy to cook for one, this was a good lesson to carry with me back home. One of my favorite meals with him on vacation was at Pickle's Place in Arco, Idaho. We passed it on the way to Craters of the Moon National Park and as soon as I saw the oversized rocking chair out front and how busy it was, I knew that was the place we would stop for lunch on our way back. We had a great time together and the food, especially the pickles were great.

5. No iPhone During Shared Meals. I've been learning this rule ever since I was in Chicago in May and a group of us put our phones in the middle of the table from the time we sat down until we paid the check. It made for a great meal. With Domani, it's a necessity because if I have my iPhone out, it becomes the ONLY thing he focuses on during the meal. Seems like an easy way to make the no iPhone while eating with people transition.

6. Sometimes It's OK to Just Let it Out. There were a few times when he just needed to be upset. I'm the same way and I know it's important for me emotionally to let go once in awhile. I'm not exactly throwing tantrums, but sometimes it's close. We don't have to be happy (or even content) all the time.

7. Notice the World. This kid of mine will stop in his tracks to check out an ant. He will pick up every stone he sees and look at it as if it's God's personal gift to him. For me, it takes the majestic beauty of the Grand Freaking Tetons to stop and notice the joy of our natural world. One more way I should try to be more like my son in my every day life.

8. Rebound and Love Lavishly. I will just point you here for the explanation on this one. Less than five minutes after I had allowed him to drop from my shoulders while watching the moose and her baby, he was hugging me and kissing me and overwhelming me with his love. It was a humbling moment and a reminder to me of God's love for us.

9. Read a Book. One of Domani's favorite things to do on our iPad is read Sesame Street's "Another Monster at the End of This Book". It's interactive which he loves, but mostly he just likes to enjoy the story. (I do recommend this app if you have a kid his age and an iPad.) He laughs hysterically when Elmo and Grover go back and forth saying "You. You. You. You. You. You...." at the end of the book and he claps when he successfully completes the challenges along the way which make the pages turn (see #1 above). Reading is one of the things that has fallen to the wayside in the busy-ness of my life, but I made a point to do some over this past week. Granted my reading of the Christian Grey series is pretty different from Elmo and Grover, but at least I'm reading again and enjoying the escape that comes with it.
"Hi" to the Mammoth Hot Springs

10. Say Hi to Everyone. My little guy waves and says hi constantly. This past week he said hi to people everywhere we went, to animals, to inanimate objects. One thing that I noticed was that his wave and very easy "Hi" made people smile. I acknowledge that people may start to wonder if I start saying hi to the light (as he does), but the concept is still there.

Sticking with these rules will be a tall order given what I know awaits me in the "real world" this week, but I am hopeful that I'll do what I can. At least it's a start.


  1. These are fantastic lessons from a wise little man! I should be paying attention. LOVE celebrate everything! Why not?
    Thanks for publishing them!

  2. Sounds to me Domani has written the outline to what should be a college level course - "Living Life to It's Fullest." Just not sure what the prerequisite courses would be for such an advanced class.