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My 5-year-old niece Torri is my connection to the Land of Little People. I don’t get to see her all the time, but when I do I’m always blown away by how much she changes and matures from one day to the next. Recently she spent the weekend at my house and taught me a few lessons about life that adults of all ages should take to heart.

1. “Tee-tee Marti, can I…”

What comes next could be anything from “go to the park,” to “paint a pretty picture,” to who knows what else. At times I thought I could pacify the pint-size busy-body by saying stuff like, “we’ll see” or “maybe later” but that never really worked. This little girl has a memory that is not to be tested. If I even so much as hinted at agreeing to do what she wanted it was her mission to make sure that whatever desire she had was fulfilled to the end. Now, don’t get it twisted. I’m no sucker to a kid just because she’s cute. But because she was often polite in her approach, I did eventually give in – sometimes.

Lesson Learned: Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. If done the right way you just may get what you desire.

2. “But I want to do it like this…”

When it came time to pick the outfit for the day Torri already knew what she wanted to wear. I laid out the pre-arranged looks that her mom had packed in her overnight bag, but I could tell that these were not to Torri’s liking that day.  She was adamant about wearing the new purple butterfly T-shirt that the hubby and I got her for her birthday. When I suggested pairing it with a thermal shirt and jeans she had she squashed that idea quick. “But I want to do it like this,” which was wear the T-shirt over the grey knit dress she loved (FYI: If the kid has to choose between a skirt/dress or jeans, 9 times out of 10 the more girly garment will ALWAYS win.)

Again, I suggested the thermal and jeans, partly because it was cold out. Again, she wasn’t having it. She wanted the dress and T-shirt combo. I didn’t argue with her because it wasn’t like it was a life or death situation. Plus, I didn’t want to be the mean auntie to stifle the child’s creative fashion sense at such an early age. Turns out that once she had the outfit on it was actually pretty cute. The multi-colored polka dot stockings she chose would not have been my first choice but hey, she was cool with it, so I was too.

Lesson Learned: Don’t be afraid to do the unexpected. By taking a risk you may be pleasantly pleased with the outcome.

3. “Places everyone! Places!”

Lately it seems that whenever I’m in Torri’s presence an impromptu musical production is likely to break out at any given moment. On this particular day Torri’s muse was the green pitcher used to water the house plants. As the lone audience member I watched a little girl with no shame in her game whatsoever perform a song and dance number about spring time flowers that she made up on the spot. When she was done she bowed and I gave her the applause she deserved.

Lesson Learned: Inspiration is all around us. Let your imagination be free to explore the infinite possibilities.

4. “I don’t even know what that means.”

Every time I hear Torri say this I can’t help but smile. Because the family has never spoken down to her by using “kiddy language” to communicate, Torri has turned out to be a very smart little girl who is quite articulate for her age. That’s why I am sometimes surprised when she says “I don’t even know what that means.” But, that’s my fault. She is only five after all. Whenever the phrase leaves her lips that’s her way of asking for me to explain something to her, which I’m more than happy to do, so that we are in complete understanding of one another.

Lesson Learned: Don’t ever be afraid to ask for clarification. In the end it’s always best to ask than to assume.

5. “Can we play some music and dance?”

Ever since Torri was exposed to the Wii and the dance video Let’s Dance, one of the things she wants to do most often is, you guessed it – dance. She has everybody in the family watching this thing and has even managed to get many of us up to cut a rug with her. Since I don’t own a Wii she is forced to settle for whatever music I have in the house that will boom through the speakers. Luckily she’s cool with that. Together we shamelessly dance freely all around the living room until we sweat and one of us passes out from exhaustion. One of us, meaning me. Even though I may be reluctant at times to bust a move, the dancing always ends up being fun, only adding to my growing list of memorable moments with my niece.

Lesson Learned: When the opportunity presents itself never hesitate to enjoy life; and always find time to dance to the music.

Until next time,


Before you go “leave a comment” telling me about a life lesson you may have learning from an unexpected source.