Lessons from a Three-Year Old

Every camp needs a poster, so I created one!

Every camp needs a poster, so I created one!

Even before I was a grandfather (now called Papa), I dreamed of hosting our grandkids at our home for at least one week a year for an adventure-packed, laughter-filled, memory-making event called Camp Nana Papa. It finally happened. Over the past 10 days we have had our three-year old granddaughter, Palmer, and her little one-year old brother, Shepherd, staying with us while their parents have been in Italy. We've also had their "baby cousin", two-month old Rosie-Love, stop in for visits with them at Camp Nana Papa.

It has been an absolute blast!

While I envision bigger adventures as the kids get older, it's been a great week with a trip to a local farm, swimming at the neighborhood pool and "Nana's Nature Walks" in our backyard and beyond. There is a beautiful innocence and simplicity in children. In some ways, they may be more relationally intelligent than a lot of us adults. As I've slowed down and watched them these past several days, I've been reminded of some foundational life lessons from a three-year old. Let me share:

LOVE PASSIONATELY. Seemingly, out of the blue, Palmer will look at one of us and say, "Papa, I love you." Or, "Nana, you are so pretty." Or “Sasa (Aunt Sarah), snuggle me." She's a great role model in the way she is generous with her declarations of love, her words of affirmation and her bids for connection.

“Baby Cousin” Rosie-Love

“Baby Cousin” Rosie-Love

ASK FOR HELP. When her little brother, Shep, is trying to play with her by grabbing her doll or invading her space, her parents have taught her to say, "Papa, I need help" or "Shep, I need space." While those words make me smile, I also hope that she's never afraid to ask for help or space when the challenges of life are big or overwhelming.

SAY SORRY. When Palmer is pushing her stroller around in the kitchen, she will accidentally bump into one of us and immediately you hear her sweet little voice say, "Whoops. Sorry Papa!" She is so quick to own her part when she's done something wrong. It's hard to get upset when someone offers a quick and genuine apology.

CARE FOR OTHERS. When we visited Gentry farm, Palmer had a chance to feed several goats. The bigger one was constantly butting in to get every ounce of food he could from her little hands. After a few minutes, Palmer stepped back and moved toward the smaller goat and said "Do you want some food, other goat?" She had eyes to see the needs of the little ones.

At The Gentry Farm with Palmer and Shep

At The Gentry Farm with Palmer and Shep

END EVERY DAY WELL. A couple of nights ago, Palmer had a little problem going down at bedtime. Unusual for her. Confident that she could soothe herself, I stood outside her door to let her "cry it out" a little. After a couple of minutes, I realized that she was asking to sing the Doxology. Yep, this little girl needs to sing the Doxology at night before she can fall asleep. Great words to end a day: Praise God from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.

So, here’s what I learned at Camp Nana Papa this year: When I grow up, I want to be like Palmer.