We’ve just moved and, well, you can imagine the upheaval and mess. So talking about appreciation of beauty right now is pretty damn hard for me sitting amidst all my family’s accumulated belongings.
Let’s see…for example, I’m writing to you from a couch filled with laundry, a drill, a long level, plastic bubbles (the wrapping kind) in a heap in the corner, and books + pictures littered along the floor. That’s just this corner of this room…
So beauty, schmeauty.
Often it’s hard when “life get’s in the way” to teach loftier goals like character, manners, blah blah blah. Seriously, who has time for this? And that’s exactly what I was thinking about when I sat down to work today: where is the relevance for parenting aspirations when we are really just trying to get through the day without fussing or forgetting to buy milk?
Then I looked at what my 4 year old’s busy hands were doing last night before bed. Here, wanna see for yourself?
She’s either a) naturally an organizer, b) the first born (read: obsessive) or c) patiently waiting for me to locate and open her box of toys? Whaddya think?
In her own way I think she’s trying to impose order, to control something, because for a 4 year old, moving is challenging. For us adults, it’s exciting, dreamy, a fresh start.
But back to appreciation of beauty. Children have an innate knack for finding the beauty in the world. Mostly, I think this has to do with an utter fascination with their world mixed with a lovely present tense myopia. As if they can only really see what’s in front of them.
I’m not saying that everything kid’s see is beautiful or anything, it’s just that they aren’t jaded by expectations or comparisons. So it’s easy for children to appreciate beauty without having to know what beauty is.
You can start instilling a sense of this appreciation with infants and it’s not like you’re trying to graft beauty onto your own Baby Mozart or anything. Just being thoughtful and conscientious about what materials their new senses can sense.
1) Toys from natural materials. Yes plastic toys are cheap and easy to disinfect when slobbered on, but offering them to babies robs them of tactile experiences.
2) Sing. Your voice doesn’t have to compare to, well, anyone’s. It’s yours. Your baby will love it.
3) Practice reverence through simplicity. Have fewer things and treat them well, display them lovingly. If you set the example of caring for your things, your children will begin to understand beauty is in the way we interact with special things. Plus, fewer things means less crap lying around your house anyway! And your house will shine because of it.
4) Nature. Now, you knew I’d say this, didn’t you? I mean, who’s a better artist than Mother Nature? And, it’s easy and free. Go outside, see what you find. Pick up treasures, breathe in the sunshine. Look at clouds.
5) Slow down and take care. Instead of rushing through chores, take the time to do them with your child. Yes, we’re all busy. Yes, there isn’t enough time in the day. But.
Saving the chores until after your kid goes to sleep or school teaches them that magically a little fairy comes and makes everything clean. That it takes no effort. That they don’t have to lift a finger. That’s not the adult you want to raise, I’m pretty sure, and it certainly isn’t the child you want to live with. You want the appreciation part as much as the beauty part, right?
I know I do!
Listen, I’m writing this one today more for me than for you, I think. My house is trashed. I’m tired. I’m cranky. Nothing (save the yard!) is beautiful right now and I think I’m craving it as much as anyone in this family. I’m needing my own appreciation of the beauty that’s around me.
What’s beautiful around you?
Previous Character Lessons: Passion, Compassion, Modesty, Leadership, Citizenship, Fairness, Integrity, Kindness, Wisdom, Love of Learning, Bravery, Open Mindedness, Curiosity, Creativity, Patience, Humor, Hope, Love, Gratitude, Zest, Social Intelligence, Self Control, Grit
photo credit: SteveD