Applying a toddler’s pearls of wisdom to the everyday workplace: mummies are wrapped in toilet paper

Do you remember that Loverboy’s song “working for the weekend”?  I wished that applied to me. Instead I work all weekend long. So, I work during the workweek so that I can keep working on the weekend. Such is life in the non-profit understaffed, bleed-you-to-death world.

Besides working all weekend long on grants, grants and more grants, I got to hang with my little five year old boy.  In between writing, I count, sing and laugh with him. That’s the good part of life. While hanging with my boy, I can to an epiphany. He has lots of good pearls of wisdom. His take on life is so pure and simple. He states things for what they are. Although, my little boy is slowly being corrupted by the powers that be. He no longer goes to the “potty” for he now uses the “bathroom”. Sigh.

While we hung out, I took down some notes from my son’s play and study time. His imagination is quite active. He has a lovely perspective on life. He is not too sure Santa Claus exists but he is willing to play along to appease his parents. It’s quite a kind heart my son has.   I have been thinking a lot lately about how the workplace is at times like a pre-k classroom; which got me further thinking about what life lessons I can gleam from my son’s non-stop chatter.  Surely, some of it must be applicable to the actual workplace. There is a set of commercials for AT & T  showcasing kids discussing how things are not complicated.  If you have seen the commercials, you know they are quite often right on point.

Below I list my son’s nuggets of advice that I very much have taken to heart this past week.

1.  Rhyme time is one of the funniest things ever. Just on a whim, we started improvisational rhyming. We did so for an hour straight. By the end of that hour our stomach muscles had been very well worked out. Perhaps he will be a story teller just like his mommy and her mommy before that. Lesson learned here: if you are bored, tired and in need of some laughter get rhyming! I suppose it’s the equivalent of doing the Harlem Shuffle in the office, although that is so passé now.


2. Mummies are wrapped in toilet paper.  My five year old insisted toilet paper was mummy wrapping paper. He didn’t deviate from that story no matter how much we tried to explain mummification. I’ve got no follow up pearls of wisdom on that one. It’s just cool to understand his world.   I see some teepeeing episodes in his future. Yikes. One thing I can relate to the workplace: there will be times staff will not want to learn from your life lessons. Let it be. Eventually, they will come to learn mummies aren’t wrapped in toilet paper. If they don’t, well so be it.


3. Apparently, the number that follows 10 is 21. He has been having trouble counting from 10 to 20. He can count the rest of the way to 100. However, that route to twenty is hard for him. Got me thinking of how that mirrors real life cognitive development. That time period consisting of the tween and teen years is indeed a time of great turmoil where the race to 21 is on.   Once we hit 21, then we all want to fall back down age-wise.  I actually have staff that have not moved past 27, which is apparently the new 21. Numbering or aging is non-linear.  Always has been. Always will be.


4. His favorite sessions at school: gym, recess, and mad science. I believe that holds true even in the workplace. That would be why more and more workplaces have ping pong tables, staff picnics and the like. Personally, I can do without the cumbaya moments in the workplace.  What I can totally get behind is having some mad science sessions where we really get to think and act outside the box. At the next business meeting, let’s bring out the mad scientists in us all.


5. Sonic the hedgehog is all sorts of worldly awesome. My son can’t stop talking about Sonic. What’s so great about him? Apparently, Sonic is a drifter living a life of varied adventures. Plus, he is super-fast, like the wind. What this tells me is that we all crave adventures and do not wish to stagnate. Do you know when it is time to fly away like the wind?


6. When having to choose between working from home or going into the office, stay home. As my son notes, if I want to get some rest and actually get work done I should stay home. No truer words have been spoken. Onwards.


7. “Chaos control” is an everyday way of life. My son screamed that phrase of chaos control over and over again throughout the weekend. I did not egg him on. I did not plant that phrase in his head. It was just there floating about, capturing what I have been feeling for about a year. The workplace is about chaos control; putting out fires we ourselves lit. Just maddening, really. But if you go in to the workplace knowing that’s your role it makes it a little bit easier to manage. In case you were wondering chaos control is a power used by Shadow the Hedgehog to warp time and space.

8. Bananas are icky to carry in a backpack.  My son was told he needed to bring two snacks to school. Guess he is a growing boy. I offered to pack a banana. To which he said “no thanks. Bananas are icky in backpacks.”  Lesson learned: think before you pack. Although bananas may seem really yummy and filling, they can turn awfully icky and smooshy very fast. Also, don’t bring fish to the workplace.


9.  Time is a slow progression. Or rather time is relative. He asked me how much time he had left before school.  I answered that he had twenty minutes. When he asked me again fifteen minutes later,  I told him he had five minutes. He wasn’t having it. He quizzed me as to how could I go from 20 down to 5. In his view that’s not the natural progression of things. Even though 15 minutes did pass you can’t skip ahead to that number. Life lesson: don’t rush more than you need to; don’t rush that which cannot be rushed.


Lastly, there is no tenth item. He only had nine nuggets. Not every list needs to contain ten things.



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