Paulo Coelho in his best-selling book, The Alchemist, writes of children;

A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.”

COVID-19 hit Nairobi sometime in March. That’s when the Kenyan government put in place preventive measures such as closing down schools and restrictions on traveling. Thus, over the last ten months I have come to find Paulo’s words to be irrevocably true.

Thanks to the pandemic (who thought we could thank it for anything!), I have had the opportunity to help look after my niece and nephew. They are the most adorable and energetic pair of twins I have come across. 

Yesterday they pulled an impressive tag-team show. They pushed a chair that would have been too heavy for any of them to move individually. They got on top of it and began laughing hysterically. It turns out they were actually looking at themselves in the mirror! Now, I’m still not sure what it is they were laughing at. What I do know, is that they have most lovable gales of laughter. Devoid of sarcasm or mixed-emotions. Pure bliss. 

The house is seldom quiet with those two balls of energy around. Yet from time to time, they go mute. There was a time I appreciated it. The stillness. The serenity. Until one day, I figured since I wasn’t a cat, curiosity couldn’t kill me. I decided to check on them.

They had found a bottle of lotion and had emptied it on their heads. Think of two mega-sized vanilla cones. I learned my lesson. The only way I am safe, when they are quiet, is when they are asleep. Otherwise, they are probably reincarnating MJ –  Got to be starting something.

Whereas I am still not able to decipher baby talk, they have made sure I decipher their call for attention. They can go from pin-drop silence to blood-curdling screams in the blink of an eye. There’s no way you can ignore the power of those voice chords. Trust, I have tried.

Intriguing, isn’t it? How creatures so clueless can actually teach us so much about life? About ourselves?

As the days go by, I learn more things from these reflection-laughing, lotion-pouring, eardrum-shattering twins. 

I’d like to know, what has your experience with children been like? What have they taught you about life? What have you learned about yourself?

52 thoughts on “TWO FOR THE ROAD

  1. We can learn so many things from children. Your niece and nephew seem to have a contagious spirit and energy which is clear you have caught yourself 🙂 I love hearing children talk about their future–a world of opportunity. No limits, no one has told them they can’t do this or that yet. They shoot for the stars. I think we can all try to keep that within ourselves 🙂

    1. It’s my pleasure!

      Always a silver lining! We must never tire to seek it out. Cynicism creeps in and takes root when we become too disillusioned to seek that silver lining.

  2. What sweet stories! Kids are the best, and are always ready to laugh with the sound of angels!

    My favorite activity with little ones is reading stories. I have the best memories with my younger brother and his little friends back in my teenage baby-sitting days.

    But a fine picture book for kids? What fun! Story Time rocks!

    1. Your brother and his friends sound adorable!

      Reading stories goes a long in shaping the cognitive abilities of children. Such a simple act but so powerful!

  3. I recall a time that I thought my 18 month old daughter had fallen asleep after singing herself to sleep. Turns out she’d found deep purple lipstick of mine and smeared it all over her face. I thought she;d been stabbed, honestly! They sure do keep you on your toes and smiling don’t they?

  4. I would say I have learnt more about life from my children than almost anything else. They are so present. Completely in the moment. They let all their emotions in. Then, just as quickly, they let them go. Immediately resigned to the past. I believe children personify love in its purest form. Great post Billy.

    Also, I love this line – “The only way I am safe, when they are quiet, is when they are asleep. Otherwise, they are probably reincarnating MJ – Got to be starting something.” 😂

    1. Hey AP😃

      These kids always gotta be starting something 😂

      You are absolutely right. Kids epitomize love in its purest form! We’d all learn so much from just observing them.

      It’s always great to hear from you, brother 😊

  5. Ah yes, the terrifying silence of children. I remember those days. My youngest just turned twenty-one and that’s a fantastic age. They all are but little ones, with the sweet laughs you mentioned, are especially dear. I miss the lap cuddles, and the nighttime tuck-in and story. I miss holding their hands when they cross the street. And, as I think about it now, I miss getting silly with them. Enjoy. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Getting to witness kids grow into adults who can care for themselves must be one of the greatest privileges of this life!

      With your youngest at 21, I am sure you’ve relished this honor!

      Thank you for reading!

  6. I am yet to hang around kids and learn a whole lot from them.
    Until then though, I shall keep this in mind “kids, clueless as they are can teach us so much about life.”

    As always Billy, you are doing a great job sharing these beautiful pieces.

  7. A great piece !
    Hanging around with kids is always fascinating. I specially like their honesty and vivacity! Coincidentally, the past months have had me living with 4 year old twin sisters in my neighborhood and to say I enjoy their company is an understatement 😅

  8. I love the simplicity of the piece, the clarity of the message and the joy i got from reading this. Now I’m attached to these two kids I’ve never met and hope to meet them sometime.

    Great piece brother. I love the delivery!

    What i love the most about kids is how they are themselves. No imitating and no hesitating. They know what they want to do and do it.

    Great read 👏

    1. Thank you, brother 😊

      You have to meet them 😃

      I totally agree with you!

      Kids come as they are. No filters!

      Thank you for making time to read this, brother!

  9. That’s a really great piece Billy❤️ and your niece and nephew are just amazing 💖.

    My experience with kids is just elating. Anytime I talk to my nephew my spirits just go high. My niece on the other hand gives me a hug of a lifetime. Anytime she hugs me I feel like I’m the only aunty in the world 😉🤗🤗.

    Kids are just a gift from God to adulting 🙈

  10. Come to think of it. How right you are. Sadly I am still one of those people who enjoys the peace and serenity while avoiding all the chaos.
    This though, makes me wanna go through the other phase.
    Probably sooner rather than later, and I have you to thank for this, Neph. Amazing piece, Haha, you now have me all up in my feelings.

  11. I have a soft spot for people who love kids. My 4 year’s old niece is the most adorable little human being ever. At this age she has started displaying her assertiveness and stamping her authority in issues. She wouldn’t let anyone watch TV during her TV time. The tantrums she will throw should you just pick up the remote. All in all I love the innocence and honesty of babies.

      1. Such stories give me baby fever😍
        I love the honesty in kids and how quick they’re to apologize.
        They can make you mad one minute and the next make you emotional with their cute eyes saying sorry.

      2. Kids are amazing 😍

        Their ability to let go completely, without any grudges, is what makes them such beautiful creatures 😊

  12. This gives me baby fever. Kids can drive you mad and still be so adorable 😂😂

    I love that kids have such pure hearts and it melts my heart when they do things like share their snacks even without being asked

    1. Ikr😂

      One minute you want they take your breath away the next minute you are thinking, maybe Pharaoh wasn’t such a sociopath after all😂

      They have such pure hearts😍

  13. I love how simple and straightforward the piece is. Good stuff bro.
    I love the title too. However, I think CHRONICLES OF AN UNCLE would serve better man😂😂

    1. Cannot tell it any better than this.I remember the last time I was left to baby-sit…she went quite for a while and I felt like wow, this is what I was missing…After 10 mins I decided to go check on her. She had her mother’s make up everywhere. I took a small mirror and put it infront of herself. I could tell from her reaction she was disgusted. I washed it off and placed the mirror before her again. She let out a scream of excitement as if she recognised herself again😆.

  14. I think the thing I’ve learnt most from children is being honest when it comes to things you want. What lovely creatures they are, they want and so they pronounce and I think that’s such a wonderful thing.

    Inspiring post as always Rais!

    1. Thank you, Engineer 😊

      It certainly is 😃

      If you don’t ask, the answer will always be, no.

      Kids show us, challenge us, to speak for ourselves and for the things that matter most to us.

  15. We should always work tirelessly towards what we desire just like kids.
    Great read as always Mr President!
    Keep up the good work.

  16. For the first time this past week I had the thought that I could survive parenthood. I’ve always wanted to be a dad, but had always worried about the actual nuts and bolts of it – even before the possibility of being a father.

    Living in New Zealand I am fortunate to be able to visit friends and their children. I love story time, whether that be their favourite book or thinking one up in the spot. Creativity is at its peak when we don’t another any idea we have. Children are like that. Every new idea is worth exploring, and can yield amazing results! It’s only when we get a bit older that we feel the box start to form around us. We need to continue to think outside of our current limitations, and in some cases abandon the idea of the box altogether!

    1. Hey Hamish!

      I couldn’t agree more!

      It’s what Nelson Mandela said about children. No child is born hating other for their skin or any other status. Hate is learned.

      We need to be around children more do that we too can get in touch with our inner child.

      1. That is a poignant thing to remember, and I myself must do better at remembering it.

        We are all people, all doing our best. Our life is better when we believe that, as are the lives of those around us.

        Thank you for opening my eyes just that little bit more.

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