Three Things I’ve Learned From My Two-Year-Old Nephew

I’m almost twenty-seven, so a LOT of friends and former classmates are now doing the whole getting married and having babies thing. I’m not there yet, but needless to say, I’ve spent a lot of time lately around little ones, and I’ve loved every second of it, even when they’re wailing or throwing tantrums (well, as long as the tantrum’s not too extended!)

Little kids are just the greatest. I particularly adore my nephew. He’s two and a half and so stinkin’ cute he could definitely model for Baby Gap or be the E-Trade Baby, but I don’t think my sister would appreciate me blasting his picture up here for everyone to see, so as much as I’d love to show him off, I’ll respectfully refrain. (I can understand her concerns. There are, unfortunately, creepers all over the internet.)

Here’s a free-domain image of a nameless, equally cute toddler instead 🙂

Little kids can teach us a lot. That’s just one thing I’ve learned in my time spent around the little man. And a lot of these lessons, I think, can have some relation to reading and the wonderful multitude of worlds books open to us. For instance:

  1. THE WORLD IS OURS TO EXPLORE. TO DISCOVER. AND THAT’S SOMETHING TO SMILE AND LAUGH ABOUT, AND SHARE WITH OTHERS. My nephew, like all toddlers, is so curious! He asks tons and tons of questions, and just loves to let others know when he sees something interesting so that they don’t miss out. “What’s that?” “And what’s THAT?” “Why you do that?” “Aunt Vic, a tweet-tweet!” “Duckie poop! Clean it up, DaDa!” Well, you don’t have to be a toddler to explore and share the world, and that’s very true of books. You can learn just as much, if not more, about human nature and about yourself from the most fantastic of fiction as from a newspaper article. Don’t be afraid to read new things. Try new genres and authors out, and when you discover something you like, that strikes a chord in your soul, LET OTHERS KNOW. They’ll owe you one. And if that book you read happens to be independently published, well, you’re spreading the word about a worthy author needful of help to get their work in the public eye. Thanks!
  2. THINGS AREN’T PERFECT IN LIFE. AND THEY DON’T HAVE TO BE. If you’ve ever spent time around a young child, you know that block tower you build for them doesn’t have to be symmetrical for them to rush at it with glee to knock it over, for you to build it up again. The puzzle pieces don’t have to fit together just right, and gosh darn it, it doesn’t matter at all if the crayons don’t stay within the lines. The picture’s no less beautiful for that. The sun can be green, even. Imperfection rocks! It breeds creativity. It’s a catalyst. This is a great lesson for the perfectionist in me, when it comes to my own fiction. I owe it to my readers, and to myself, to write the best fiction I can. That said, no book is ever flawless, and in truth, I think that’s part of their charm. I just LOVE the Harry Potter books, and learned tons from them, and they’re definitely far from perfect. Who cares??? We’re human. Perfect, in our lives and in our art, doesn’t and needn’t exist.
  3. ANNONYING, CHORE-LIKE TASKS CAN BE FUN, IF YOU TREAT THEM LIKE A GAME. My nephew has a toy, plastic lawn mower, and he just LOVES to follow his dad around with it when his dad’s actually cutting the grass. Cutting the grass sure isn’t fun for most of us adults, but my favorite little guy adores it! He treats it like a game, and gets some good exercise doing it. His approach is one I can apply to those final, annoying edits, my least favorite and most chore-like part of the writing process. Editing can be exciting, and perhaps it should be. Getting the manuscript in final shape should be a really fun and rewarding experience, if you look at not just as brain-numbing tweaking, but as getting the novel ready for its readers. And it’s great mental exercise, great practice and maintenance, even improvement, of those skills needed to write an even better next novel to follow!

So, what have the little guys and gals in your life taught you? I’d love to know!


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