So, I am staying with a friend in my homeless between moves interim, and she is married with two young children. I haven't spent much time with children in several years, really not since I finished college I suppose, and I am realizing that being a full fledged adult gives me an entirely new perspective on children. (I suppose living with them also creates a perspective different from just babysitting or spending an hour or two with them)
Anyway, some things I am seeing differently. Learning to negotiate one's own space, sharing space and things, and dealing with feelings, experiences, and emotions, is quite a task. A lot happens in life, and my abilities to regulate my emotions (more or less successfully) I often take for granted now.
Life is simpler, and at the same time it's still a lot to deal with. Milk or juice, Elmo or Pingu, which ball bounces best, and whether or not a bath or diaper change is really necessary are all very serious choices. And at the same time, the mind seems to be always working, taking in information, trying things out, figuring out what everything means and what consequences come with what actions. Watching the little guy poke things, drop things, throw things, pick up things, and otherwise explore is really fascinating.
At the same time, he also has personality and humor, and sometimes just likes to say no because he can. I had what I felt was a victorious moment when I bested him in a philosophical debate. It was time for supper, and his mom called them to come eat, and he stayed on the couch. I went over to him and said "Let's go eat," and he responded with a simple "No." (which is much cuter when he says it, but try to imagine that from a 20 month old) I said, "No? Don't you want to eat?" to which he again replied, "No." So I asked, "Why not?" He sat there for a short while, seemingly contemplating the question, and I can only suppose he couldn't come up with a good answer, because with no further ado he crawled off the couch and went to the bathroom to wash his hands.
Besides all the complicated parts of negotiating emotions and negative feedback and uncomfortable feelings, there is little more fun and contagious to listen to than little people laughing. It is often very simple things that make them laugh, such as funny faces or noises or even just playing along and throwing a ball, but get them laughing and I can't help but laugh too.
Raising children, I see most clearly now, is no small task, and makes for tired parents and a lot of randomness (I never know what I will find in the bathroom when I go to take a shower, or in the yard or living room when I get home from work), and at the same time is a powerful work, guiding the development of young minds, bodies, and souls. Amazing, really, and not something to be taken lightly.