Yesterday, I watched a toddler at a birthday party. The party was for his older brother at one of those bouncy places, and there were about 15 kids of varying ages in attendance, but this little guy was definitely the youngest. His name was Vincent, and he couldn’t have been more than barely two-years-old.

Vincent had so much energy! He ran all over the place in his neon orange shirt with a giant smile on his face. He dodged kids more than twice his size, and flung himself into the pure joy of jumping, bouncing, sliding, and running. He helped build a house out of giant foam blocks. He stopped what he was doing only twice – once to hug his dad, and once to kiss his mom. And then BAM! He was off and running again, focused on his fun.

When it was time for cake, he stood right at the cake table with his parents as they put the candles in. Twice, he snuck his little hand up when they weren’t looking and grabbed fistfuls of frosting and ate them. He followed his dad (and the cake) across the room to his brother and sang and clapped as the candles burned. When he finally got his sliver of ice cream cake, he was sitting directly across the table from me.

It’s been a dozen years since I had a toddler, and I was delighted to sit and watch Vincent enjoy his cake. First, he used the fork, then the spoon, and finally his hands to get every last bit of his sugary treat into his mouth. He missed one bite that went down his shirt, and it had to be cold, but that didn’t break his focus for a second. The kid was thoroughly enjoying himself.

When he was finished, his dad came over and cleaned him off with some wipes, and off he went to help his big brother open presents. And once again, his excitement, focus, and joy at the experience was evidenced by the giant smile on his face.

Vincent knows how to live in the moment. Vincent knows how to savor the good stuff. Vincent is focused on pure joy. Vincent is pretty rad.

Lessons learned from a two-year-old at a bouncy house birthday.

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