- Michael Thompson
I love a good quote from Dale Carnegie as much as the next person. The same goes for Marcus Aurelius. But personally, nothing impacts me more than when someone I know — who knows me — says something that travels straight through my ears and hits me hard in both my head and heart.
The quotes below aren’t from a New York Times bestseller. Nor are they from someone who talks people into running over a bed of coals. They’re from Liam, my 6-year-old, who despite his lack of years has a pretty cool way of looking at the world and the people in it.
“What’s up girls?”
“Oh nothing, it’s just we think Liam’s so nice!”
This past week during a parent-teacher conference, Liam’s teacher told my wife and me about how despite being shy, he’s stepped into the role of class helper.
90 percent of Liam’s classmates are immigrants — many of them first-generation. They’re struggling to not only adapt to a new country, but also learn Spanish and Catalan in order to keep up with the teacher who only speaks these languages.
Liam, being half-Catalan and half-American, has been working with many of his African and Asian classmates who speak varying levels of English to speed up their learning.
No one asked him to do this.
He’s not being graded for it.
When I asked him about this, he said something I plan to take with me:
“Maybe I’ll need help one day and one of my classmates will be around.”
For a while there, instead of reading stories at night, Liam and I would look at a glorious big book that had drawings of animals and make up questions for each other.
“Hey Liam, have you ever seen a hippopotamus eating cereal with a fork?”
“Hey Papa, have you ever seen an elephant with ears small like a person?”
It made my heart jump when I found him sitting by himself one morning at the kitchen table making art.
“Whatcha drawing?” I asked.
“I’ve never seen a giraffe without a neck, so I drew one.”
In addition to doing what you can to not leave people worse than you found them, to live a good life, never stop making the things you want to see in the world.
“Dad! Dad! I saw Red again!”
The first day at the beach this past summer we saw a very unique looking little red fish who we aptly named “Red.” The little guy kept showing his face from underneath a rock as we made our way through the days. No matter how stealth-like we moved, we couldn’t catch him.
One day, while walking back to our apartment after coming pretty close, I turned to Liam and said, “The Mediterranean is a big sea. I don’t think we’ll ever catch Red.”
Without a moment’s hesitation, Liam looked up at me and said,
“What a great day!”
Don’t let your outcomes dictate the size of your smile. Try to do a few things each day you enjoy. Wear yourself out. Get a bit of sun when possible.
“Pizza i pel·li! Pizza i pel·li!”
Every Friday we have pizza and watch a movie (pel·lícula in Catalan). Like a lot of people who lack self-control, I chow down. But a while back, when I asked Liam if he wanted another slice, he said something that made me grateful he takes after his more rational mother:
“Nah, I feel pretty good and I don’t want to ruin that. It was good though!”
I stopped drinking years ago when after hitting it hard for two decades I finally realized that maybe I have an addictive personality. Since I don’t drink any calories anymore, I’ve discovered a real passion for eating them.
Liam reminded me that if you don’t indulge in every slice or scoop you may end up not only feeling better but also eating longer.
“What’s that? Three in a row?”
“Be quiet. Your luck is about to change!”
I used to play Skipbo with my Nana. Liam has since taken a liking to it also. Each night, during dinner, we play a game. At first, I couldn’t buy a win. But like tides tend to do, they turned, and I went on a serious run.
“You sure you don’t want some help?” I asked him. “Maybe I could go in the kitchen and leave my cards out.”
“You may win if you cheat. But it wouldn’t feel good.”
“Wow!” I thought to myself. “That’s true!”
Liam has a little brother. His name’s Luc. He’s 2-years-old. It’s weird to think almost half of Luc’s days have been lived in quarantine. At first, like most little boys who just discovered their legs could walk, he struggled with not being able to go outside to run.
Night after night when COVID came on the scene he’d cry about not being able to go to the park while sleeping in the same room as Liam.
“You can sleep with me,” I said one night to Liam. “Mom offered to sleep with Luc.”
“It’s okay. I’ll stay with Luc. His cries don’t bother me. I was once a baby too.”
I was expecting war when Luc arrived. That hasn’t happened. Liam doesn’t complain about him. He’s patient.
If there was one quality I’d want him to carry with him, it’s his amazing ability to support people as they are.
If you enjoyed this post — more thoughts from Liam here.