Happy Birthday Ava

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Ava, Happy Birthday to you!

It is my niece’s first birthday today. It’s hard to believe a year has gone by so fast. It seems like no time at all since I met her for the first time, gave her a cuddle and helped with her first bath! Ava is my first and only niece, and having her as an addition to our rather large extended family has been such a joy. I’ve also really enjoyed watching my brother and his partner in their new roles as mummy and daddy. They are both such natural and compassionate parents, that it is little wonder that Ava is such a placid, happy baby.

I just love being around babies. I would have been content with a tribe, but we had to stop at 3. There is something so wonderful about being with them, caring for them, learning with them. So, in honour of Ava’s birthday I have put together a list of things that babies do instinctively, and that we, as grown ups (or pretending to be, anyway!) need to incorporate into our experience of the world.

* Wonder: That look of complete surprise that widens eyes and drops jaws seems to be an almost permanent expression on babies’ faces. Everything is new, or is seen in a new way, whether it’s a goldfish suspended in a globe of water or the piano key that sings with sound. I think our lives would all be enhanced if we learned to look with wonder again.
* Curiosity: Anyone who has wandered in to find the entire contents of a handbag strewn around the living room floor, while a contented baby presses all the buttons on your mobile phone, knows exactly what I mean by this one! Babies’ curiosity is insatiable; they just have to know what’s in where? what happens if I do that? what does it taste/feel/smell like? Curiosity is a wonderful trait to cultivate, but it’s definitely one we grow out of.
* Unconditional Love: To love unconditionally is quite possibly one of the hardest things to do, and yet it is something we are all capable of. The love that we experience as babies is the kind of love that we all aspire to as we get older.
* Determination: Learning to sit, crawl, stand and finally walk takes an incredible amount of determination. No matter how many times a baby topples over, they continually get up and try again. Failure is not conceivable to a baby. If they attempt, repeat, attempt, repeat, they will ultimately achieve their goal!
* Playfulness: The joy of just playing is something that begins at around 4 months and continues well into childhood. Some of us are lucky enough to ensure that we retain a certain amount of playfulness in our lives, but so often we wake up one day and wonder where all the fun went. Give yourself permission to play. Have fun!
* Instinctiveness: Babies rely upon their instincts much more than adults do. As we grow and develop, we acquire different skills which help us to evaluate and formulate responses. For small children, though, they are tuned into that frequency which tells them more about a person or a situation than all our acquired skills put together can achieve. And yet, I do believe that the frequency doesn’t disappear; it’s still there for us to tune into when we need it.

Ok, so that’s my list. Are there any that you would add or, indeed, remove? What have you learned from babies?


August 23, 2007. Inspiration.


  1. Dad! replied:

    Oh, wonderful collection, Amy. Certainly wouldn’t take anything away from these.
    What would I add?
    Well, how about the power of smiling?
    When a baby smiles, the rest of the world lights up. I’ve often noticed on trains how unsmiling commuters suddenly look so much happier because a baby just smiled to them!
    Oh, and on a slightly more serious note……have you ever encountered a baby who learns to say “yes” before “no”? No, neither have I. I think there’s a reason for that. “No” is protective. It’s about defence. “Yes” is more mature. It’s a kind of negotiation between two people. Why do I think this important? I can’t tell you how many sick people I see who have a HUGE problem saying “no”. Learning to be assertive and to care for yourself is SUCH an important skill. Do you know that there’s some research which has shown that “Can you refuse an unwanted favour?” is a key question in determining prognosis in serious diseases like cancer and AIDS? (the people who can’t refuse “unwanted favours” don’t live so long as those who can)

  2. Learning from babies « Heroes Not Zombies replied:

    […] 23rd, 2007 by bobleckridge Amy’s got a new blog going. Go have a look. Today, she’s put up a post about what we can learn from babies. It’s lovely and […]

  3. amypalko replied:

    I really like those additions, Dad! It is so true that a baby’s smile is so infectious. And as for saying “no”, babies master that pretty quickly. I think Ava’s head shaking when she didn’t want something was her first entry into meaningful language. I certainly have clear memories of my own daughter’s adamant “no” at the dinner table, while I cajoled (“It’s potato! You like potato!”) to no avail. The ability to say “no” is one I’ve seem to have lost. Too much of a people pleaser perhaps…

  4. Flights of Fancy « Lives Less Ordinary replied:

    […] Isn’t that painting magnificent? It’s by an artist called Rob Gonsalves. If you would like to see some more of his work, head over to Optical Illusions as Mr Illusion has posted another 35! All of the paintings make you look again and reassess what you are seeing.  I particularly like this one as it correlates the opening of a book to an opening of a door.  I passionately believe that books can offer us a way of understanding the world and our experience in it, and this painting evokes this for me.  It is art like this that revives my sense of wonder. […]

  5. Sugar Mouse In The Rain replied:

    Wonderful post. Keep it up.

  6. amypalko replied:

    I’m glad you liked it, Sugar Mouse. I’m having a lot of fun with the blog at the moment, so I certainly intend to continue. It’s so lovely to get such positive feedback though, so thank you!

  7. Sugar Mouse In The Rain replied:

    I blogged this post and sent it to a couple of my friends who had their birthdays this week.

  8. amypalko replied:

    Oh thank you, Sugar Mouse. That was really sweet. I hope your friends like it too!

  9. Birthday Party « Lives Less Ordinary replied:

    […] the time we left, she still had a small pile of presents to unwrap. If I could add something to the list of attributes that we could learn from babies, it would be to savour your presents! I’m sure in another […]

  10. SOI replied:

    Very nice post !
    Btw, my birthday was on the 23rd and a friend “Sugar Mouse ” forwarded this to me.

    Thanks Sugar Mouse, and you’re right Amy, we need to have some of this babish traits in our grown up lives.

  11. amypalko replied:

    Happy (Belated) Birthday, SOI! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  12. Thursday Thirteen - My Family « Lives Less Ordinary replied:

    […] – Willingness to Laugh – I have already posted about some of the traits that babies have that I believe we can all learn from, but I would like to attribute this one specifically to N, as […]

  13. Bet replied:

    Hi amy,
    i’m really enjoying your blog, have read various pieces over the past month or so (found you through your dads blog…now he is a HERO for sure)and i particularly love this piece on babies and what we learn from them.As i was standing waiting at the bus stop this morning i was thinking about what you had written(as i read it last night) and it came to mind that babies are so ‘in the moment’…they don’t worry about tomorrow, or wallow in what happened yesterday….and so that would be the first addition i would add to the list.I think youngsters can teach us so much about the wisdom of living in the ‘now’.Also, and this is something i ‘relearned’ as an adult from your dad, but children have it instinctively, and it’s resilience, they just have a lovely way of being able to get on with life, no matter what!
    Keep up with all your lovely encouraging writing Amy, because even although folk don’t always post a reply, we often stop by and are encouraed by reading it( i LOVED the Thursday 13 on your family!)

  14. amypalko replied:

    Thank you so much, Bet, for your lovely words. They are so encouraging, as sometimes it can feel a little like I am writing into the void, so it is good to know that my writing is read and enjoyed. I love your additions to the baby list. I think living in the moment is key, and it is something that I keep returning to in my blog. Also resilience is a key trait we see in the very young, and it does seem to be something we lose as we grow up. Watching a child learn to walk, I think, is perhaps one of the best ways to see this in action!
    Thanks again, Bet, for taking the time to comment here. I’m glad you found Lives Less Ordinary!

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