Tag Archive: buddhism

Somewhere along the great journey that is my daughter’s life, she has picked up selective lying—specifically about having gone potty in her pull-ups.  I’m not sure where she learned to lie since her mother and I are very careful not to lie to her; in fact, we often go to great lengths to explain things to her so we won’t lie.  Most of it probably goes over her head, but we feel proud that we’re not denying our daughter the truth.  So imagine my confusing when I smell a ripe odor emanating from her general direction, and I ask “did you go potty?” only to hear a defiant “no.”

I’m concerned (though not surprised) that this is probably a look into the raw stuff of human nature.  (Notice I didn’t say “uncivilized” since the very act of lying is the mark of a “civilized” person, albeit for socially and artificially-constructed reasons).  We’ve read about this phenomenon in books, but it still surprised us since she has had no contact with any ‘pretty little liars’ in a social setting.  Nor do we set such an example.  I guess we’ll just have to settle for learning to read her giveaways so when it comes to something important, we’ll recognize her attempt to circumvent the truth.

There’s also a reason why we call her the “destructor.”  The most recent case occurred this afternoon when I spent 10 minutes or so constructing an intricate structure with her building blocks.  My daughter takes one look at it and immediately sets to razing it to the ground like she’s punishing Carthage after the Third Punic War.  She knocks it over and dismantles each of the sections with a frightening intensity without a care for any of my stylistic innovations in Mega Block architecture.  Then she gives me a knowing look as if to say “see dad? All things are temporary.”  Kind of like those monks in Tibet who spend days or months making intricate sand mandalas only to wipe it away as soon as they finish.  Of course I’m annoyed because 1) a Buddhist monk I am not, and 2) she broke my tower!  Who is this little tyke to show me the properties of impermanence anyway?

Then I look over and see her nigh-unrecognizable baby picture and realize she’s absolutely right.  So I shut my mouth so I can soak in the latest lesson she has to teach her old man.

“Walk” –my daughter

As my daughter discovers her ego (in every sense of the word), she has developed a very cute habit of grabbing my hand and saying “waaa” in her heart-melting little voice as she leads me “walking” to whatever destination she has planned.  I took a moment to reflect on this and discovered some interesting things.

First, I realize that I’m trying to teach her about life and its inescapable time-space continuum.  You know, “honey, if you do ‘x’ now, you can’t have ‘z’ later.” Currently, she’s blissfully unaware of the difference between the “now” and any other time—and it’s apparently a hard thing to learn (and why would she want to?).  Of course, since I comprehend the idea of “before” and “after,” I observe that I spend much of my time in these moments rather than the “present.”

Second, I often find myself in a rush to get things done, whether it’s cooking dinner, getting to work, or trying to squeeze in a few minutes to post a blog.  I lament the leisure time I hazily remember in the annals of my memory, kind of like the $0.99 per gallon of gas from my childhood.  My daughter has no such pressures or responsibilities.  As Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory once observed: “We have to take in nourishment, expel waste, and inhale enough oxygen to keep our cells from dying. Everything else is optional.”

Third, I found that my daughter suffers from none of the above.  She cheerfully lives in the moment, concerned only with what “foo” she wants from the fridge or what toy will momentarily entertain her in a seemingly never-ending quest to make our living room floor a walking hazard of plastic and wood baubles.  Any frustration she has stems from not being satisfied in that very moment that a need of hers fails to be met (like a little Zen Buddhist who hasn’t quite detached herself from her temper).  Her whole world is spent living in the present.

So next time she grabs my hand, I think I’ll take a deep breath, slow down, and take a walk in the moment to wherever she may lead.