My nephew turns three years old today! Happy Birthday, Boy. Uncle loves you, very, very, very much. Missing you a lot, so this article’s for you.
“The child is the first artist.”
Some people think having kids around isn’t conducive for work. It can be hard not to be distracted when you have them screaming and running around, and have their toys all scattered and disorganized.
Literary critic Cyril Connolly once wrote that “There is no more somber enemy of good art than the pram in the hall.”
Personally, I find myself disagreeing with that statement — It’s quite the opposite, because kids very often uplift me and my work. The sound of their uproarious laughter and their gregarious presence, for the most part, give my environment its much-needed liveliness. Even if I were to crave silence, it wouldn’t take long for me to feel that it’s too quiet without them.
I have a 5 year old niece and a 3 year old nephew who I’m absolutely attached to. I just adore being around them and playing with them whenever I can. A kid’s smile, I believe, can truly brighten the gloomiest of days. Yet of course, saying goodbye is always the hardest part.
Until a couple of weeks ago I’ve had their company after several months of being apart, and man, have these kids grown. My niece for some reason, has changed to become a lot more introverted and would hardly want to be around anyone but her Mom.
My nephew, however, has bonded with me more than ever before. I no longer call him Adik (little brother) as much now, but simply, “Boy” — Mimicking how Kratos calls his kid in God of War.
For one thing, he talks a lot now. If you knew him, you would know how much of a challenge it was to encourage him to grow out of his baby talk or to say more than single-word phrases, like “fish” or “cat”. Back then, he would literally point out at everything — A ceiling fan, a car, a human being– And call it “cat”. I remember that I always used to ask him, “Hmm, when are you gonna talk, Adik?”
Now, it’s amazing to see how easy it is for him to say all kinds of things, like “It’s raining”, “See you soon” — Or screaming, “I DOWAN DIS!” when I annoy him.
And it’s heart-warming, in a weird kind of way, to see that he has pretty much inherited the naughtiness from my family’s side. It’s hilarious to see him irritating his sister, and lying on the floor and not wanting to get up, as a sign of protest to his parents’ commands — Much like how my brothers and I used to do.
He also loves playing with LEGO toys now. It’s a quite a huge upgrade from him only wanting to play with tissue boxes and keys, or at most, the occasional airplane and dinosaur toys.
When he’s playing, I’d do my best to just let him make the hugest mess and not try to intervene in whatever he’s attempting to create. When he’s finished with his tiny projects, he’d hand them to me, and every time, I’d excitedly praise him, “Wow! That’s really nice! Clever boy!”
Positive, loving and encouraging words are always important for infants and kids. The words that they hear about them growing up definitively shape their self-esteem, and really determine whether they would have a secure attachment — That is, the ability to trust and healthily attach to others, as well as to be self-reliant in fulfilling their own needs. But even if I hadn’t known these things, I would still be giving Boy all the praise in the world — Because really, the things he built were pretty ingenious for his age.
One thought that stayed imprinted on my mind was that he never actually gave too much of a damn about how his “projects” turned out. After he hands over one project to me, he would just start another one. He just has fun. And that’s the amazing thing about kids — They enjoy the present moment. They don’t know how to quit, because it has to do with their survival. If they learn to walk and they fall, they’d just get up again. If they enunciate some words wrongly, they’d just do better next time.
Being in the company of kids is a constant reminder for me to not take things too seriously. Once I relearned that frame of mind of not caring so much about what people might say, I noticed that I started to perform a lot better in presentations, or anything that has to do with speaking, especially — Because that’s usually the area in which I tend be most self-conscious. As is often the case, the reality is that no one actually cares about the worries that go on in your head.
I’m constantly learning from kids, perhaps even nearly as much as the other way around. So here’s a useful note to keep : Worry less, simply do your best in all you do, welcome mistakes, get back up, and laugh and have fun.
I wish these kids liked Spongebob though.