Sarah McCarten

Thirty things I’ve learned from my daughters. A guest post from Nicole Romero (with help from Ella, Age 8)



I’m so grateful to have Nicole contributing here; you guys are in for a treat!

Thanks so much Nicole.

We learn just as much from our children as they do from us.  It’s not a cliché if it’s deeply true. Being a child is frustrating and glorious. They are experts at honest living. Every parent needs a reminder to see their kids as teachers not just tiny drunk comedians we are trying to keep alive.

1. Struggle builds our lives. From the beginning we have to push and work and try. Wanna walk? Find a way. Grab your mom’s jeans.  Grab a coffee table… and PULL yourself to your feet.  You will fall. You will cry.  Then, you will need to get back up and try again.  Want to learn something new? Get ready to work hard.

2. Fruit is the best food. Well, fruit and goldfish crackers.

3. Feel emotion. When someone hurts your feelings, go ahead and cry. You’ll feel better. When something is funny, let that belly laugh roll out of your gut.  That’s what life is for, right?

4. Feel emotions, but then let it go and move on. There are a lot of fun things to do today. Even when you cry, keep an eye out for the next fun, funny, interesting thing because it might appear while you are crying and you don’t want to miss it.  When it comes, forget the tears and enjoy it!

5. Change is hard. Even the introduction of a new pillow or potty seat can throw you off. Complain, voice your issues, but know it’ll be your new favorite thing in about 3 days.

6. Look closely. Every little thing is interesting. Don’t just walk to get the mail. Check out every snail. Every clover. Every stick. Pick up every snail. Pick up every stick and see if you can balance a snail on a stick. Sing a song while you walk… actually, don’t walk. Skip. Ask people to watch you skip. That’ll be better. Twenty minutes later, open and close the mailbox at least 3 times before you take each piece of mail out. Each piece separately.  There’s a lot to see every day.

7. Try it all! Have you tried shoes on your hands yet? Have you tried drinking ice water while in a warm bath? Have you tried rice and beans in a cup of water as “soup”? Have you tried pajama pants as a shoulder shrug? Have you tried a cat as a pillow? Have you tried sitting in the laundry hamper? Have you tried taking pictures of your tongue? … I bet you haven’t tried it ALL. Don’t get bored. Get curious.

8. Mix it up. Switch up senses and assignments.  Could you: Dance a song? Swim a song? Draw a song?  Could you: Eat a banana? Squash a banana? Put a banana in the toilet?

9. Bring a friend (or your mom) with you whenever you can. It’s just not as fun standing on a rock, or going to the bathroom, or getting a cup of water unless you have someone with you.  Take them by the hand and drag them, if needed.

10. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Be specific. Be bold. “Yes, I do want to play Littlest Petshops and I want you to be the cat and the little dog. No, not that little dog. This one.  I will be the teenagers.” “I want a glass of water, in a pink cup with a straw… a bendy straw.” (warning: there is a happy medium with this one.)

11. A gift is a gift. Big, small, requested or surprising. A gift is thrilling and extra and awesome.  Don’t let expectations ruin a perfectly wonderful gift.

12. Take compliments with pleasure. You were made well and you should know it. When someone says you are beautiful, it’s perfectly healthy to respond. “YES! YES I AM!”  Take no guilt or responsibility for your face or body. They just are, and they just are good.

13. If someone wants a hug or kiss and you don’t want to give them one, say no.

14. Look for friends everywhere. I bet you have something in common with the girl next to you at Starbucks. Smile. Make eye contact and say HI. Tell them you like Backyardigans (adaptable reference). Everyone is a possible partner-in-crime.

15. Friendship is instant. It doesn’t have to take months to make a friend.  Friendship is like waking up.  If you open your eyes, you are awake. If someone smiles and says “HI” back, you are friends. Invite them to the park. They probably want to play too.

16. The best stories and jokes should be repeated. Repeated a lot. They should become part of your life story. Tell them again and again.

17. It feels good to be cared for physically. Let someone brush your hair. Lean your head on the shoulder of someone you love. Grab a hand while you walk anywhere – even just through Target. Ask someone to help you put on your jacket. These moments of tenderness really create love.

18. Friendship is hard. Stick with your friends even when you have “off” days. Even when she’s mean once-in-a-while. If you can talk it out and forgive each other, stick together. We are growing up together.

19. Share your creations with joy not apologies. Never apologize for your art and creations. Make a lot. Make so many they cover the table. Put them up everywhere. If someone doesn’t understand what was created, tell them about it. It doesn’t mean the art is bad. They just “don’t get it” yet.  Explain it. And explain it with joy.

20. The world is big. Some of your greatest fun and peace will come from finding your own nooks and crannies – the “you-sized” parts of the world. Look for them. They are special. Being small is not a handicap. We are all small in our way and that’s because God wants us to enjoy the little spaces too. Climb under a table. Cuddle with a blanket and pillow in a fort. Make your own special places in the world and claim them as Yours.

21. Play hard. Sleep hard.

22. Laugh at your mistakes. It’s the road to sanity and a full life. When you say the wrong words for something, laugh. When you get a little poop in your underwear, laugh. When you drop a huge glass of juice on the floor, roll in it and laugh.

23. Ask questions. You are not supposed to already know everything.  If you don’t know how to say something, ask. If you want to know how something works, ask. We are learners not knowers. Only God is the knower. The rest of us are students in a study group.

24. When passing by a full-length mirror, dance!

25. Sometimes crying yourself to sleep is the only option. Trust you will still wake up smiling after even the hardest, toughest nights.

26. The mundane matters. Doing dishes. Finding socks. Cleaning the poop off a tiny booty.  Running back in the house for “one-more-toy”. These little acts of kindness and responsibility build a life. They build a family.

27. Tell people you love them a lot. Tell them with pictures, drawings, paintings, clay sculptures. Tell them with hugs, kisses, cuddles, smiles. Tell them with the words, “I Love You.”

28. Books require more than reading. Books are entire worlds worth exploring. Interact, question, point, repeat, read and reread your books until you can recite them by heart. If a book is not falling apart, you are not using it right.

29. Clothing is soul care. Feeling sleepy? Wear pajamas. Feeling happy?  Put on a cape. Find a dress you love?  Wear it three days in a row.

30. Having kids means redefining what a Good Day or a Bad Day looks like.  All those things you use to think defined a bad day: conflict, mess, poop, crying… those come every day now.  They are irrelevant and no longer count at all.  A day is Good when people pour their hearts out for each other, laugh and cry together, and go to sleep knowing they did the best they could.

Nicole Pic

Nicole Romero is a peacemaker, in the old way. She teaches, pastors, writes and creates in order to make connections – to tie one thing to another to another until it all makes sense in a fresh, rewarding new way. Shalom and true joy. Blogging about connections at Pastoring creatives at Look her up anytime. She likes friends @nicoletteromero

Author: sarahmccarten

3 thoughts on “Thirty things I’ve learned from my daughters. A guest post from Nicole Romero (with help from Ella, Age 8)

  1. Pingback: 1000 Strands – Experts on Honest Living

  2. This is fabulous: for the kids who are 8, and those who can remember 8 (and often wish were still WERE 8). Thank you Sarah. Thank you Nicole.

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