#56 – What a toddler taught me about quarantine

How do I tell a one year old we can’t go to the playground?

Child gazing out window
“Why can’t we go outside, Dad?!”

He’s got an excellent vocabulary for his age – he can ask for food, milk, tell me when there’s a crime scene in his pants – but we haven’t mastered baby sign language for “the Government enforced self-quarantine”. So, what do I do about the immense guilt I’m feeling?

With children, education goes both ways. I couldn’t possibly quantify it, but I’d be willing to bet that I’ve learned far more from our relationship than he has. Allow me to share this weeks big lesson: words are cheap, actions matter.

Words are cheap, actions matter.

The ask is clear; he doesn’t like being stuck inside. I totally get it. Our weekends are usually packed with fun things like hiking, visiting the children’s museum, playgrounds, and (my favorite) Sonoma Train Town, but now we have to stay at home and he just doesn’t understand.

This morning he walked over to me crying, bawling, carrying one of my shoes in one hand and one of his in the other… When he didn’t get the response he wanted, or appreciate my attempts to console him, he climbed up into his stroller and sat there, silently, staring at the door.

Heartbreaking… there’s no other word for it. That said, like most moments, there is alway a choice. An opportunity. The most important word in this article, and the key to approaching trying situations, is mindset, and that’s the lesson he’s teaching me now.

The most important word in this article …. is mindset.

Every bad event presents at least two options: a) adopt victim language and ask yourself things like “why’s this happening to me?”, “when will I get past this?”, “when will I be ok?”, “I deserve better than this”, or b) hold yourself accountable and own what happens next. Neither of these choices will prevent an external force disrupting your world, nor will they roll back time, but only the latter will help you find inner peace and sleep well at night whilst uncertainty prevails.

Notice the difference in language between these two choices: “It’s happening to me” versus “how can I effect the situation“? The choice we all own is the mindset we turn up with. We all own the ability to shift from being stalled with fear and anxiety – proven to get you absolutely nowhere, at any time – to being creative and seeing how we can transition our perspective for the better.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

Mahatma Gandhi

I am definitely no parenting expert – there will be no Dad Book released in my name – and like most first-time parents I am winging it, but this little teacher of mine doesn’t understand being a victim, so why should I fail him and demonstrate that pattern. The same goes for my friends and family, if they’re not feeling strong enough to stay positive, then how can I expect them to turn things around and hold it together while I sit idle with a ‘wait and see’ attitude? I shouldn’t, I can’t, evaluate how they’re doing while being part of the mindset victim/passenger problem.

There are many things for which I don’t have advice, but I remain steadfast knowing I’ve adopted a mindset of being creative and tirelessly searching for the actions that my son will observe and hopefully soak up with that hungry sponge of an amazing brain. The solution for today, instead of staring out the window by his side, was to declare it day 1 of the “Living Room #QuarantineOlympics”. Today, armed with nothing more than the right attitude, was one of our best days.

Drown the tough times with a Carpe Diem mindset and we’ll come out of this together, stronger than we came in.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s