Through the Eyes of a Three Year Old


The other night, I was talking to one of my dear friends who is a mom with a teenager. We were talking about the holiday season. “Lisa, isn’t it awesome to have a three year old at Christmas?! Everything is magical!” She said.

I stopped. Earlier that day, we had been hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree, which, now-a-days is a several day “process.” (Notice now I see it as a “process”? We’ll get to that!) My three year old wanted to stand and rock on the arm of the Lazy Boy chair so she could reach the tippy-top of the tree. My six year old son was half dancing to Christmas music, half doing karate moves in our small, cozy front room as he put up ornaments wherever his moves took him. And my husband?! Totally serene. There were a few piles of ornaments all over the floor and Brian was completely ok with it.

I sat there – pissed.

“Brian!” I said, “This is so unorganized and chaotic!” I balked.

“What?! It’s fine, Lisa,” He said, in his totally-at-peace tone of voice which, for those of you who know Brian, is his “I should’ve been a Zen monk on a mountain top or maybe I’ve been one in a past life” way of being. Which
just infuriated me even more.

“Watch her! She’s going to fall!” I continued my balking.

“She’s got it, Lis.”

“Someone’s going to step on all these ornaments!”

“It’s ok, Lis. Really. It is.”

Brian moved some of the piles closer to him and moved them out of my way.

And then I felt it. A wave of several emotions. Shame came crashing inside my ribs. I could tell that this was perfect for Brian – the “chaos”, the “going with the flow”, the “mess”, the “just being here” – all before I came in. He loves decorating the tree and every year, I go into stress mode doing it. He wants and asks for so little. He goes with my flow. But I could tell he just wanted to let this moment of all for us together…be. Be as it is. Be light-hearted. I saw how there was magic before I arrived, how the kiddos were sooooo in their element, and how everything was, in fact, calm – before I came in.

Back to my girlfriend on the phone. “Magical?” I thought, as my girlfriend who is such a gem – a fellow yogini, Capricorn, deep soul and big heart, went on to tell me her version of how three year olds see Christmas – the magic, the lights, the mystery, the warmth, the textures, the scents, the activities. I sat there on the phone now thinking about how my three year old daughter saw decorating the tree:

Her face was soft, eyes focused and full as she looked at, savored, and lingered with each ornament – how it shined, how it felt in her hands, the care she used when she handled the fragile ones.

I thought about how she’s been this holiday season. Yes, there will be moments of big excitement, I’m sure. But I’m not talking about the over-the-top holiday light shows or going to FAO Schwartz in New York (some day, but not this year). I’m noticing now the quieter side of awe, the deeper sense of delight, the “I’m fully in this” posture, the deep look of “this is amazing.”

~ The gleefulness in her eyes as she squeezes neon glitter glue to make cards as gifts.

~ The look of deep delight on her face as she holds a pencil and carefully writes each letter of her name.

~ The way she is totally absorbed in the sensation of being in her bare feet, opening the kitchen door, running onto the freshly fallen snow, and running back inside.

~ The deep “with my whole heart and body” prayerful presence she has when we gather at the advent calendar and with her eyes squinted tightly shut, she makes the sign of the cross and says a prayer.

~ The look of quiet awe as she rests on the couch looking at our tree.

~ The “I’m fully loving this!” way she plopped down in the snow and made a snow angel.

photo (2)

And so when my friend asked me, “Isn’t it magical?” it woke me up. It woke me up to see my choice: to jump in and swim in the waters of delight, play, and awe of the season – or get so bent out of shape about how tidy, perfect, orderly, organized, and prepared I am.

Yes I get it. We can’t all go around every single minute of the day as mesmerized three year olds. Someone has to buy presents, organize the “to do” lists, etc. But at times I can do it with delight. I can participate and linger in the magic. I can join my daughter as she left mass the other day – honestly – trying to catch snowflakes with her tongue. I can reflect on and engage in the season of Advent – of waiting and readying my heart – rather than getting annoyed at all the holiday traffic. I can join Brian and snuggle on our couch, in our cozy front room, after the kiddos are in bed, and be grateful for the blessings right here in the ordinary.

photo_1 (2)


*Dear friends, take a moment and see the holiday season from a child’s perspective. If you have pint-sized kiddos, it’s crazy, but sometimes it’s totally eye and heart opening to get down on their level (I’m talking HEIGHT here!) and see what they see.

Or imagine that you are seeing things for the FIRST time and notice how you look at things differently.

Or…(and you know I’d bring this up. It keeps things real and in perspective), imagine how you’d see this season if this was your LAST Christmas.

Yep, there’s the awe. There’s the delight. There’s the slowing down and lingering.

Here’s to waking up every single chance we get this holiday season to the delight in the ordinary. The quiet side of awe.  The magic. The miraculous in the messy.

Be gentle with yourselves, dear hearts.

I will be back at the beginning of January. I’m going to take the next few weeks and (attempt to!) unplug, be present, listen, laugh, and more deeply embrace the delight in our everyday lives.

Many blessings,

barefootideaslogo ** Friends, I’m glad you are a part of this community. If you’d like to receive Gems in your inbox, click “follow.” I hope today you are inspired to live with more delight, compassion, and connection in your everyday life. Visit the Barefoot Barn for more information or contact me about mindful/compassion coaching, psychotherapy, workshops and retreats.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rachel
    Dec 13, 2013 @ 10:34:47

    Putting up our tree was a bit chaotic this year too, with Ethan insisting that only his ornaments be on the part of the tree facing “his” couch, and Luke getting bored with it and wanting to run around instead, and Lili putting two or three ornaments on the same branch and then getting mad when one of the boys tells her not to do that. Putting up the tree will not be the favorite memory for any of us this year. And I remember getting annoyed when I pulled out the boxes of decorations and the kids were excitedly going through them, throwing paper everywhere and not being careful with the fragile things. But their excitement was understandable – the decorations held memories and magic from previous Christmases, and I had to reign in my OCD. But – I am working on savoring the other things we are doing. I have really loved taking the kids for walks around the neighborhood in the evening to look at all the Christmas lights (maybe next Wednesday you all can come over for dinner and we can all take a walk afterwards?). I will accomodate Lili’s need to open the little present box containing three mouse finger puppets – with my fingers in them which makes holding the box awkward as they are connected to the box – for the hundredth time and answer her questions in little mouse voices as I wiggle them. My fondest memories of childhood Christmases are little things like that, and I know it will be the same for them. So I keep the radio tuned to the Christmas stations even though I hate some of those songs, b/c they love them. I allow the singing snowmen to be front and center in the most formal room of the house. We won’t be going to every Christmas-related party and activity that presents itself this year, but I will be going to each one we choose with a more open heart, letting the chaos that happens when you get lots of sugar-hyped kids together in one room just happen. We missed Christmas last year due to the whole family getting the flu, and I am bound and determined to make this one special.


    • Lisa A. McCrohan
      Dec 14, 2013 @ 08:57:12

      Rachel. YES – Wednesday would be lovely. I am totally putting on xmas music now — thank you for that reminder. I fondly remember music being on in the background when I was growing up. I’m putting it on now! I remember last year and everyone in your family was sick!!! That’s funny that that happened to you too — pulling down the xmas boxes and everyone being so excited and it being chaotic and you having to rein in on your ocd. Me too! Totally love you, girl. Thanks for always encouraging me!


  2. Farmgirl Susan
    Dec 13, 2013 @ 11:27:32

    Another beautiful post, Lisa. Thank you so much. I loved and laughed out loud at your description of Brian. That guy is such a gift – and that top photo of your daughter is truly priceless.

    I think it’s wonderful that you are unplugging for the holidays. I’ve been meaning to email you for weeks (!) – maybe today will be the day! :) You’d think being snowed in for a week would give us more time, and although after 19 years in the country I STILL make hopeful Snowstorm To Do Lists for all those things that never happen during good weather (organize and declutter! attack the mending basket!) it always seems to be just the opposite on the farm.

    Lots of love to you and your lovely family. I’ll try to get to that email – first I gotta hike out to Donkeyland and break up several inches of ice in the water troughs. ;)


    • Lisa A. McCrohan
      Dec 14, 2013 @ 09:00:23

      Susan, the description of Brian made me laugh,too, when I wrote it! It’s so true! He is a gem – keeps me calm and grounded…and also light. But he is so damn calm sometimes that it brings up my stuff — ahhhh, an opportunity to see myself clearly and make a choice!!! How are you, susan?! YES – email me! Let’s catch up! I hear you about snow days and having your list and only accomplishing 1/10th of it! I’m looking forward to some good snow this winter. Last year we didn’t have one snow day! It’s good for the body and spirit to chill out — it’s a good excuse…even if we don’t get anything accomplished! Love to you, Susan! Lisa


  3. Heather
    Dec 13, 2013 @ 12:02:00

    Thank you Lisa. I needed that. We also have a three year old. Daddy keeps telling him to leave the tree and ornaments alone, and I’m thinking “we bought plastic ornaments for a reason, just don’t knock the tree down.” Lol. I tell our son to ask me and I’ll give him the ornament he wants so he can touch it.


    • Lisa A. McCrohan
      Dec 14, 2013 @ 09:03:17

      Heather — I’m glad this resonated with you today! Yes – just don’t knock down the tree! And well, i guess even if that did happen, life would still be ok. A bit (ok a LOT) messier, but then he’d probably LOVE helping clean up! I know, we do have to teach our kiddos about appropriate ways of acting and respecting each other and things. I like how you put out plastic ornaments — as it’s just setting up a little one if we put up fragile ones! My daughter is actually really careful but we put the fragile ones up at the tippy top. Hence, she wanting to help put them up there! Ohh it’s a learning process! Love to you. Have a beautiful xmas with your little one! Lisa


  4. Trackback: One moment, so many emotions | This Academic's Life
  5. brendamarroy
    Dec 16, 2013 @ 11:31:10

    Oh, Lisa. This so touched my heart. I do think of what you said and stand back to look at things through new eyes.
    I feel like a child when I am decorating our tree. I take such pleasure in hanging ornaments and stringing lights with Paul. This year I feel the excitement of a 3 year old because I am going home to spend christmas with my mother and family. Hallelujah is about all I can say about this gift of spending the holiday with my family.
    Enjoy your time off. :)


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Copyright. 2013. All rights reserved. No portion of any post may be copied without written permission from the author. The advice offered herein does not constitute a substitute for professional psychological treatment, therapy, or other types of professional advice and intervention. The self-help contents are solely the opinion of the blogger and should not be considered as a form of therapy, advice, direction and/or diagnosis or treatment of any kind: medical, spiritual, mental, or other. If expert advice or counseling is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought.

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