One of the most touching attributes of toddlers is how quickly they let go of anger. They are intense in happiness and intense in sadness or frustration, but quick to change from one to the other. This shows how fleeting our actual emotions, even in our adult lives, are.
So many people hold intellectual grudges. Sisters don’t talk for years. Children separate themselves from their parents. Phone numbers are changed, hostilities exchanged at family holidays. Friends disappear. Connections are lost. And for what?
Granted, there are times when such a cut is necessary. Some things really are unforgivable. And some things remain emotionally entrenched. But not all things. How many schisms could be repaired if only we let go of the mental memory of a feeling that has long since left us?
Toddlers don’t yet know to hang on to that memory. They don’t need their anger glorified; they don’t need their point agreed to completely. They don’t relish in the emotional release of anger. They don’t cling to it. They certainly don’t let petty arguments stand in the way of a good game or a song and dance. My toddlers live in a beautiful world.
Last night, as my husband and I were sitting down to dinner, the babies were piping up, wanting juice, wanting water, wanting a video, wanting up, wanting down. They wanted our attention, and we wanted to eat and maybe have two uninterrupted sentences of adult talk. After trying to make them happy for 15 minutes by giving in to their demands, I simply gave up and let them tantrum. My husband, however, started tapping his hands on the table and singing a song, ignoring the babies and their shenanigans entirely.
**tap tap tap**
“Doo, doo, da, di, doo!”
Within seconds, the babies had forgotten their tears and rose up from the floor to dance. They didn’t hold onto the anger that was rocking inside of them just moments before. Whatever it was they were on about was best forgotten – there was music to dance to, after all.
If we could harness some of that forgetfulness in our own lives, if we could separate what part of our anger is legitimate and what part is fanciful, if we could dance when the music starts, we’d probably be a lot happier.
Sometimes I get so caught up in what I’m teaching my toddlers, I forget how much they’re teaching me.