One of my distinct childhood memories was of looking at my parents and thinking "Man, adults sure are stupid!". They turn things that are so simple into complicated brain teasers!
On that specific morning, my parents fought over which desert they should serve to our friends that were coming over for supper that evening.
Unable to reach an agreement over a pinapple or fig cake, they stubbornly challenged each other to a competition, making the most eaten cake to be the decisive jury that would end their argument.
My parents rushed off to the supermarket to buy the ingredients, barely talking to each other, both sure that their cake would win the dispute.
Wise enough to know that my opinion didn´t mean much at that point and also knowing that with such an atmosphere I could get away with putting pretty much anything into the shopping trolley... I grabbed a big tub of vanilla icecream with nuts, hiding it under the frozen chicken (at least the they agreed on the main course!)
And would you believe it! Only two or three slices got eaten from both cakes but EVERYBODY dug into the icecream when it came to desert time...
Moral of the story... take advice from your kids?
Well why not? If my parents had asked me opinion at the time, I would´ve told them what I wanted for desert... Icecream! It would´ve saved them both money and useless arguing!
When we were children life was simpler... or do we make it more complicated as we get older? You probably walked right past that stray dog that you saw because you were afraid of its fleas, its smell or of catching some contagious disease. Do you not remember of once looking at it as a new potential friend that needed petting? These days we seek shelter from the rain when once we thrived on getting wet. Mud and puddles once represented hours of fun instead of extra laundry and it is no longer wise to smile at the person next to you on the bus... If they smile back they probably want something from you rather than just being friendly. I remember looking forward to going to church on Sundays just so that I could give the old beggar lady a coin or two.
So where does all start changing? Some say that children grow "conscious", other´s say that we simply lose our innocence... whatever it is, it seems that with age we start building more and more barriers around ourselves. Of course we could argue that certain barriers are necesary to keep ourselves from getting hurt (experience is a harsh teacher) but to what extent are we really protecting ourselves? Countless times it has been proven that those who overprotect themselves and refuse to take risks end up with far more regrets than those who take their chances, but that isn´t what I´d like to shine through in this column...
Not too long ago, a very good friend of mine and I had a stupid argument. Although no little dispute could ever hurt a great friendship likes ours, I found myself torn wether to drop the meaningless subject and leave it hanging in the air or to risk talking to her about the same subject that could once again lead us to the same argument. Over the whole weekend I struggled with an answer and I whilst sitting down on a chair asking God for a little guidance, my little brother jumped on my lap smelling as if he´d just been playing with horses! I ignored the fact that he desperately needed a bath and tried my luck asking him for advice. Not giving him too many details, I let him know about two friends who fought about something but now don´t know wether they should speak about it again or not. Without thinking twice my brother told me that frienship means that they should be able to talk about anything, that nothing should be left unsaid and that if all else fails... hug, shake hands and neither one plays with the toy (Hehehehe... Child language!). He also reminded me that there should be no name calling because that´s cheating and it hurts.
As it so happens, my little brother´s advice worked... I didn´t even have to get to the hug part which i´m pretty sure wouldn´t have hurt though...
Later that week I observed some more of my little brother´s tactics... I find that he brushes my hair when he wants something (It´s a weak spot of mine!) or smiles when he knows i´m angry with him.
Using my clients as guinea pigs, I found that most of them didn´t have the courage to yell while I was smiling at them and that a five minute massage to my colleagues helped relieve more than one kind of tension in the office. Some of the biggest problems at work were resolved with a solution as simple as beginning with a deep breath and a smile.
We´re all intelligent beings and with experience we learn not to make the same mistakes. However, we have the tendancy to overprotect ourselves to the point avoiding risks... avoiding life!
I´m a firm believer in living and loving but even I recognise that often my decisions become cloudy due to the falls i´ve taken.
Using Icecream language, I tried asking my brother what he would do if he one day he woke up with this enormous craving for Macdonalds icecream! He would get all dressed up and wait the whole day to visit Macdonalds just to find... that there isn´t any and that there won´t be any for a whole week! How would he satisfy his craving?
I asked him if he would try something from Olá? a Nice big Magnum perhaps? The perfect icecream with a chocolate layer and creamy vanilla icecream? (one of his favourites!)
But my brother said no, that somehow eating a different icecream would just make him full and wouldn´t satisfy his craving for Macdonalds... that would just be fooling your stomach he said! So what do you do?
Acording to my brother, you only have two options... either you wait a week for Macdonalds icecream or you walk around town until something else catches your craving... like pizza for instance!
Considering that in my case, Macdonalds went bankrupt and i´ll never get to taste that icecream!.. I´ve resolved that with time, as I walk around town, something else will catch my craving.
With his simple logic, my brother helped explain and inner-war that I as an adult had difficulty putting into words and with this innocence (and icecream language) my brother spoke of one of life´s most important lessons... Time and patience.
I think from now on, i´m going to stick to asking my little brother more advice about life... perhaps the answers are truly more clear if I see them through a child´s eyes.