Picture a sunny Sunday morning with a chatty little redheaded 2-year-old.
She asked me to lie on my bed with her and read a few books. I happily complied.
Halfway through one book, a character began to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and I changed the lyrics to be: Twinkle, twinkle, little Violet star, How I wonder what you are."
A very defiant little girl interrupted me and said, "No! Vivi not a star! Vivi not star!"
And a hundred thoughts went racing through my head. I thought: "Of course you are a star! Violet Betty you are wonderful and smart and perfect and you are every bit a star!" And I nearly panicked thinking that we had already done something to make this little girl believe that she was not star-worthy. It made me sad. It made me question my parenting. It made me wonder how we can raise girls who are confident and proud.
So rather resignedly I said to that sweet little girl, "OK, you're not a star. But I think you're a star. I think you are awesome. If you're not a star, what do you want to be?"
And without hesitating for a second, that wonderful, wise child shouted, "HAPPY!" and she said it with such enthusiasm and confidence and belief. It was truly amazing.
What do you want to be? ..... Happy!
What an idea. What a fantastic answer. What a beautiful outlook on life. What a smart little girl who has already figured that out. I will never forgot that conversation. I can honestly say that was a defining moment in life.
For every parent who has lost sleep thinking about their children, agonizing over whether they've done something wrong, stressing out that they're not doing enough right, please heed this child's advice.
We spend so much time training them to have good manners, educating them to learn more, reprimanding them to follow the rules, pushing them to do more, cautioning them notto take on too much but also not to do too little.
We're doing this all wrong. We're looking at the wrong end goals. We're not setting the right expectations or think about the final outcome. We really only need to do one thing:
Just teach them to be happy.
And the best way to do that is to set a good example by being happy ourselves.
That's the secret to life. Now go out and do it. If you need help getting started, just give me and Vi a call. We'll come over and help you be happy.
Here she is, my new life advisor, the pint-sized professor, the littlest life coach, the one and only Violet Betty: