While standing at a kitchen sink full of suds yesterday, I overheard our good TV friend Dora the Explorer tell my kids about some obstacle right in front of her that she would have to somehow overcome. My guess was she was either going to count in spanish or order Swiper the Fox to back off already.

That’s when my four-year-old chimed in with, “Doesn’t she know she can just go AROUND?”

I had to chuckle. How’d he get so smart? He was spot on. Why does Dora feel so confined and restricted to that little path anyways? She could sure save herself a lot of time counting and shape matching if she’d simply circumnavigate those pesky road blocks. Come on, she’s got a map!

His comment reminded me of the time when my oldest was not even a year old. I had purchased him one of those buckets of plastic shapes with the lid with the corresponding holes. You know, put the triangle block through the triangle hole, the circle through the circle, etc…

I sidled up real close, poured out the shapes and did a demo. I got all the shapes in the bucket in under a minute. Look how smart mommy is. Now it’s your turn sweetie. He took one look at me, popped the lid off of the bucket and scooped in all the shapes in a matter of seconds. There. Done. As if to say, “Why were you wasting so much time fussing with that silly lid Mommy? It took you forever!”

That’s when I concluded my child was a genius. Way to cut out the middle-man honey! Way to zero in on the most efficient solution. Shapes in the bucket. Check.

I have since taken my cue from my children who have a natural knack for cutting out the middle man and simplifying life. For example, my boys refuse to own pajamas because they insist there is no real need for them–their play clothes are as comfy as ever. Great! Pajamas out, less laundry in.

They don’t fret over counting calories other than to ask, “How many bites of veggies before I qualify for dessert?” (Answer: the number of their age.) They call their cardio workouts “playing outside.” They need absolutely zero notice to throw a party. They are certain something in the fridge will present itself to serve and that no one will notice the messy house.

They help me to seize life’s moments and not worry so much about getting the right shapes in the right holes. It’s okay to sometimes go around an obstacle that doesn’t need to be conquered right then. I can leave dirty dishes in the sink and take off for the zoo with them on a whim. I can eat my dessert too as long as I ate my vegetables.

Which means over thirty some-odd bites of brussel sprouts for me? I really should cap that rule around ten.  

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