One of the first words Little Yang said (after Mum, but before Dad!) was HOT. This of course was because he was told repeatedly ‘don’t touch, HOT’ around cups of tea or coffee. And we would blow any food that was warmed a little too much with the warning ‘HOT, HOT’. To him HOT naturally came to mean ‘BAD’ – a HOT something wasn’t to be touched (no doubt he’ll change his mind much later around hot girls), and it was something he didn’t like (usually food he didn’t want to eat). HOT had an air of the forbidden to it – so he was cold on the idea of anything HOT, with no possibility of warming to it.
Not long after HOT became a favourite word in a vocabulary that could be counted on one hand, Little Yang learned to appreciate COLD – and to say the word. We were living in Canada, so he didn’t really have much choice. COLD is what it feels like when you put your hands in the snow without mittens on. See Mummy told you to wear mittens!
Over the last couple of months, Little Yang, now 2.5 years, has come, seemingly, to understand WARM and even on occasions COOL.
He’s beginning to understand the degrees in things, the relativities (if not the 50 shades of grey). He still reaches for his favourite HOT word first, and when we say ‘NOT HOT’ he will retort with a ‘COLD’. Then we’ll say ‘NOT COLD’ and he’ll look a little quizzical and enquire gingerly ‘WARM?’ This is a standard conversation about the bath temperature, the clothes he feels he should definitely not have to wear because it is far too HOT apparently, and the food he doesn’t feel like eating whether it’s boiling hot, lukewarm or stone cold.
Of course Little Yang makes us laugh, with all his talk of HOT and COLD, even if I’m a little worried his vocabulary hasn’t advanced by the degrees it perhaps should have – he did spend his first nine months with Chinese and no English after all. And he understands lots of things.
I in turn understand things better because of him.
He reminds me of the futility of looking at things in black and white (but not yin and yang terms). Black and White leave no room for grey, let along 50 shades. HOT and COLD leave no room for warm and cool, let alone sweltering and freezing. And life, nature is simply not like that.
If we think in yinyang terms we can realise that we can never really judge anything, that there are never really opposites, only complements, that we can never know everything and even when we think we do, things change. Even the experiences we don’t enjoy make us appreciate those we do.
When we stop judging things as good or bad (I was certainly prone to value judgements last year about the relentless cold, wet Canadian weather) we stop resisting and make room for acceptance. And when we make room for acceptance, we can find contentment and experience joy (the thrill of a refreshing swim on a hot day, or relaxing by a warm fire after coming in from the cold).
Of course there are extremes – the boiling water or iron that burns is hardly a good HOT, nor is the COLD that causes frostbite any good either….which brings us back to, well, balance.
Not a bad place to be.
Love to hear your stories on acceptance and non-judgement – I believe it can make all the difference to our happiness.
PS – Little Yang, despite his protestations, is leaning towards HOT currently (as you can see from the photo). He enjoys the attire -now I just need to get him out of a nappy (or diaper). We’re working on it, but somedays he says he’s a baby, other days a boy – so who knows!