Walking out of the airport terminal in Barcelona my stomach was in knots. I was about to meet the family I would be staying with for the next five weeks and I had about a million thoughts running through my mind, the first being, oh god I hope they aren’t serial killers. I was scanning the crowd, fingers crossed that I would actually recognize them from the pictures that they had sent me.
The first person I spotted was Biel. He was sitting on his dad’s shoulders, grinning from ear to ear, and excitedly waving to me with the rest of his family even though I am one hundred percent sure he had no clue what was going on.
Over the next few weeks I would spend just about every waking hour with this child. From trips to the park to trips on the Metro, I felt more like a mother than I ever had before in my life. While most of my days I found myself learning to dry out a pee-soaked mattress and to cook lunch for three in under thirty minutes, I also found myself learning a lot about life in general. We can learn a lot from the way that two year olds operate, and we can gain a lot from reverting back to our own childlike roots.
Find Joy in Everything
I will always have a picture of Biel in my mind, dancing around the living room in his diaper, rocking out on the air guitar, but having to stop every few seconds to keel over in hysterical laughter. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what joy looks like.
It didn’t matter if he was swinging on the monkey bars at the playground, running around the metro station or just sitting on the couch doing nothing, the kid was always content with exactly where he was.
I’m the kind of person that is always planning on what is coming next. I vividly remember sitting under the Eiffel Tower in Paris and making a list of all of the countries I wanted to hit on my next trip. Like, look up Miranda, you’re in Paris, be happy with where you are. We just have to shake ourselves awake once in a while, look around and realize we can find joy wherever we are.
Don’t Care What Others Think
Crumbs covering his face, hair in a disarray, completely nude and running around the house, Biel had absolutely no shame. Like most two year olds, he had absolutely no concept of what other people’s judgement was, and even if he did it is unlikely that he would care.
When we get older we often navigate the world in terms of what other people will perceive us as. Following trends to fit in, not speaking up, not questioning the status quo. At what age do we become so concerned with what others are thinking? When did we become so preoccupied with what’s going on inside other’s brains, that we stopped listening to our own?
While I’m not advocating for running around naked all the time, (but if that’s your calling, do you), we could all definitely use a bit more of this fearlessness in our daily lives. Wear what you want, do what you want, if you’re not hurting anyone you have nothing to worry about.
Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Biel was fearless. He climbed up everything, stood up tall in high places and jumped off without even a second thought. While this led to many bruised knees and Band-Aids, it didn’t seem to slow him down. He would get back up there the second he had the chance and try again.While this may have caused me an incredible amount of anxiety, it also reminded me that we all started out in this life on the learning curve. If we had given up when things got tough we wouldn’t have learned to walk, to talk, to ride a bike. Failing was just a part of the journey.
I think now we have a collective fear of failing. It stops us from putting ourselves out there, from trying something new and from straying from the path that we were always told to follow. Failing isn’t the end all be all of life, giving up is.
From the second Biel woke up in the morning to the second he fell asleep, the boy was dishing out mad love to everyone he came into contact with. He would offer his snacks to strangers on the metro, run into his dad’s arms after spotting him a block away and crawl into his older sister’s lap when she was crying to try to cheer her up. By the end of my stay at some point every day he would look up at me with those big brown eyes and say “te quiero”, “I love you, just letting you know.”
When it came to love, Biel didn’t discriminate. He didn’t shy away from it, he wasn’t embarrassed about how he was feeling and he didn’t care if he didn’t get anything back from it. He loved authentically. We all could be a bit more open with who we give our love to, an we could all remind people that we love them a little more too.