30 While 30: Day 96 – What a difference a year makes…

If anyone reading this blog has either had children of their own, or known young children (cousins, nieces, nephews, etc.) they know how quick a year can seem to go by.  Not only that, but especially in young children, how much they seem to grow in that period of time.  For example, here is my youngest son, Wesley, on or around his 1st birthday, one year ago:

Here is a short list of things that Wesley couldn’t do, or wasn’t very good at.

  1. Wesley could almost walk on his own …he was more still cruising. (using furniture to brace himself as he navigated around the room).
  2. Could barely talk … he had a few small words to help us know what he wanted. (one of which was the word “no” – not in defiance, mind you, but this was his word for “milk” …. don’t ask me … I don’t know how or why.)
  3. Wesley was a mess at the dinner table.

One short year later, here he is:

This past weekend, we had the pleasure of celebrating Wesley’s second birthday.

Here is the list of amazing things he can do now:

  1. He can walk well.  Walk, shoot …. the boy won’t stop moving …. ever.
  2. He has many many words.  Still says “no” when meaning “milk”, but talked about “happy”, “sad”, and “cool” at the dinner table just tonight.  The boy also sounds out letter sounds (some) when shown letters in a book.
  3. He has an amazing personality.  He is fearless.  He climbs, throws, kicks, jumps, shouts, and falls … all will amazing passion.

That is just the beginning of the list.

Seeing this great change in my son, the things that he has learned, the joy that he has had, and the accidents he has experienced, I begin to ponder a particular thought:

– What is so different about one year of a toddler’s life and one year of a 45-year-old’s (or “whatever-year-old’s”)?

The answer?  Not much of anything.  Granted, science teaches us several things about young life.  Mainly, just like how stem cells can work to become most any type of cell in the body, young brains are huge sponges for information, able to assimilate information quickly for the complex processes of language formation and understanding of social rules (even at a young age).  Not only that, but we also know that as we age, especially in late adolescence, that our synapses (the connections between our brain cells) begin to be coated in a film of sorts, allowing for the solidifying of certain knowledge.  In other words, as we age, certain behaviors, bits of knowledge, and skills begin to become hardwired into our brains.

Now, I know that sounds like a scientific way of saying that as we age we get stuck in a rut. … well, that’s exactly what I’m saying.  We re creatures of habit(s).  Habits aren’t just actions, either.  There are habits of actions (like brushing your teeth and smoking), sure, but there are also habits of thinking (things like biases, prejudices, but also optimism and hope) and habits of emotion (that stories of dolphins always make you cry, or that you get so angry when you watch shows on television about nuclear power plants).

As we experience life, habits of each of these types begin to form, causing reflex reactions to situations as well as “unspoken rules” about how we go about doing things.

And that’s the biggest difference between being one, then two, and being 25 and then 26.

You see, Wesley doesn’t have the “privilege” of knowing that his thoughts, emotions, and actions are set in stone.  He doesn’t recognize that limitation.

Adults … we’re great at that.  We’re great at living life the same way, thinking the same things, feeling the same things, and doing the same things, only we chalk it up to “the way I am”, or even without that idea, we simply settle for the fact that today will be just the same as the day before.

That’s a little bit about what this year is about.  It’s about this year not being like the last.

Not waiting.

Not putting off.

It’s about acting a little bit like I am two, not that I’m thirty, and think I have all this worked out.

You should join me.  The birthday cake is great.


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