The Mirror Lesson_Hal Evan Caplan-Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke.My tyke is my teacher and I actually love learning from him. The best part is that the lessons can come out of nowhere. He has the unique ability to see things in a different and more positive light than I do, but then again, most kids do. As we get older and become adults, we often lose touch with that ability. One of my challenges is to not only learn the valuable lessons form my tyke, but to retain these lessons for future situations.
We all stress out sometimes. This can be linked to many things - work, home, finances, car trouble, travel and even the cat urinating on the carpet in the corner of the living room... The list can be endless. It's how we deal with the stress that matters. There is a usually positive way of dealing with stressful situations and of course there is a negative way. Okay, maybe it's not always negative, but it's likely less than optimal.
In an effort to not bore you with the reason why I was stressed in this lesson, and "no" it didn't have anything to do with the cat situation, at least this time. So I will just generalize and call it "my stress list". Now don't get me wrong, it's not like I walk around looking for things to stress about and then adding that item to a list. I really don't, so just work with me here.
Well, here I was, sitting on the couch watching a DVD movie with my teacher. I wasn't really into the movie for a couple of reasons. I didn't especially care for the movie, but mainly my mind was racing with many things swirling around inside my head.
Occasionally my teacher would ask me questions about things that were happening in the movie. My replies were guesses at best. Eventually, my teacher noticed me running my fingers through my hair as well as rubbing my forehead with my thumb and index finger.
"'There is a much better way to do that". He pointed out.
"What are talking about"? I asked.
"Making those funny faces". He replied.
"Making funny faces"? I questioned.
"Yeah". He mumbled.
"I can say that I have no idea what you are talking about". I expressed.
"Putting your hands on your face and making faces." He replied.
At that point, it occurred to me that I had been running my hands through my face and hair, and wondered what "funny faces" he had seen.
"Oh, is that what you think I'm doing"? I responded.
"It sure looks like it." He observed.
"I'm not making faces. I'm just a little stressed out here." I revealed.
"Well, then move over there." He pointed to the love seat on the other side of the living room.
Of course this comment from my teacher allowed me to forget about my stressful thoughts for a moment and gave me a good chuckle. It's always interesting for me to see my teacher's perspective on things and life and what-not. I'm not sure if he knows what stress actually means, but he sure knows how to snap me out of thinking about it.
After a few minutes, he turned his back to me and with his back still toward me, he asked me to try doing something by looking in the mirror.
"I'm sorry, I'm not sure what you mean." I admitted.
He then turned back, now facing me, and had his fingers arranged on his face with his nose pushed in and his eyes pulled open wider than normal.
"Dad, try doing it like this and then look in the mirror." He repeated.
"No thanks." I said.
"Come on, it's funny, really it is". He insisted.
"I really don't want to do that... Seriously, now." I expressed.
My teacher is not someone who takes "NO" for an answer, especially when it comes to having fun. Finally, he grabbed one of my hands, then the other and pulled and heaved me off the couch and to my knees.
"Alright, I'll do it." I agreed, hoping this would be quick.
I walked over to the mirror, still on my knees, to where my teacher was. He had already been making several and random funny faces using his hands. Upon my arrival, he instructed me on the numerous options I had in the "art" of face making.
Reluctantly, I made my initial silly face in the mirror, sitting next to my teacher. He pointed at me in the mirror and began to laugh hysterically. Of course this didn't help the fact that in my mind I was supposed to be sitting on the couch, stressing.
My teacher's laughter is very contagious and of course I couldn't help but to begin to laugh along side my teacher. The two of continued to make silly faces in the mirror and laughing at our silly faces for a good thirty minutes.
In a nutshell, the lesson that I learned that day is: No matter how serious you need to be in your life, remember to take a few minutes to act silly every now and then – it's a great stress relief.
Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke,
by Hal Evan Caplan.
A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.