Mommy, Why Are You Drinking Out of the Toilet? Life Lessons for Kids (And Moms)

Mommy, Why Are You Drinking Out of the Toilet Life Lessons for Kids (And Moms)Evgenia Pashkova / Shutterstock
Life with kids is unpredictable. You never know, when you get out of bed each morning, what crazy things are in store for you today. You consider hiring a small bulldozer for the mess in the playroom but then decide to make a batch of carrot muffins instead, only to be side tracked by a trip to the hospital when son number three falls off his bike. Little eyes are watching all the time, seeing how mom and dad deal with all this chaos. Quite possibly, the best thing you can do with these zany episodes is turn them into life lessons.

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You Are Going to Need a Sense of Humor

My mother-in-law handed me this gem just before I married her son, and bless her feisty Irish heart, she couldn’t have been more right! Stuff happens – cars break down, jobs are lost, preschool twins learn how to use the contents of their diapers as an art medium – if you can’t laugh at your predicament, you are going to have an unhappy journey through this life. Kids get that naturally, so let your home be filled with laughter.

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Pet the Kitty Nicely

My now teenage daughter tells me that these words form her earliest memory of things that I taught her, and that sounds about right. Indeed kindness to all the creatures of the Earth, and a need to pass that value on to my own children, long precedes the arrival of my first baby. Horrified by tales of frogs and firecrackers during my own childhood, I was determined that my children would be kind to all living things. Most of my children are grown men now, some of them stand over 6 feet tall, but they are all gentle, slightly cat crazy nature lovers who regularly shoo bees and spiders outside in a paper cup. Is that so bad?

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Be Yourself

There once was a 5 year old boy who wore a homemade vampire cape to the park every day for a year, its red and black material fanning out behind him as he climbed the monkey bars and imagined himself a superhero. That boy is my son, a man now on the verge of becoming a police officer, and when I saw a little guy in a Spider Man costume riding in a grocery cart recently, it made me smile. We could all learn something about just being you from these children.

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Use Your Gifts

It never ceases to amaze how very different children are from each other, siblings all raised in the same home by the same parents, even twins – so unique in many ways. Parents will see gifts, strengths and passions emerge in their children and can help them turn those natural assets into hobbies and careers.

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Do Your Best

Do the best you can every day in school, as a family member and as a friend. That is all anyone can ask of you or you can ask of yourself. If you’ve done your best today, you can feel good about that. That goes for kids and parents alike.

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Ditch the Bubble Wrap

I don’t recommend riding a bicycle without a helmet, but I do think protecting ourselves and our kids from every risk isn’t really living. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a pretty big chicken myself and don’t even ride roller coasters, but I want my kids to toboggan down hills, play contact sports, climb trees and take the bus alone, if that is what they want to do. Yes, I have spent more than a few hours in the waiting room of the local ER while certain active boys have received casts or stitches!

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Carve jack-o-lanterns, watch 1st of July fireworks and share Thanksgiving dinner. Also celebrate getting that paper route with a pizza party and potty success with dinosaur stickers. Life’s worth celebrating!

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Comfort Each Other

“Mommy, why are you drinking out of the toilet?” My 4 year old daughter found me hunched over the porcelain in the throes of a nasty stomach flu one day, and I was cheered up a thousand fold despite my misery. Little children deliver blankies to the couch-ridden and hugs to the sad. Did they learn this from us… or do we learn it from them? I’m not sure, but it’s beautiful.

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Go Outside

Peek under rocks for toads, slide a buttercup under your chin and catch a falling leaf before it hits the ground. Tiny miracles and big adventures wait in the outdoors.

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Dig Your Family

Oh yes, they’re a motley crew of folks, from tea-sipping church elders to loud and tattooed beer drinkers, but they are your family. Their DNA is your DNA too. Not everybody gets along all of the time, but you’re all in it together. Make time for all branches of the family and for the young and the very old. Talk about your roots and the “old country.” Let the kids hear all of it (okay, most of it) and you will all be richer for it. You are your child’s first teacher and every day is full of hundreds of opportunities to learn something new. Embrace that idea and remember what Albert Einstein once said. “I never teach my pupils, but provide the conditions in which they can learn.”