My beautiful daughter Addison is now 9 and growing into a lovely young lady. Her firey spirit, strong will and tender heart make for many moments where she teaches me a thing or two about life. Last week we were out as a family at a fancy restaurant for dinner and midway through Addison begins licking her fingers. Not just any licking, but devouring each one like it was a delicious giant ice cream cone. She was licking from joint to tip with the loudest slurping sound that makes your inner parenting energy cringe.
Mortified as we were in public, I said...wait let me be honest...I barked "Addison, stop licking your fingers."
Now let me say that this 9 year old age is lovely , but filled with some sass. Normally a comment like this from me would result in a sassy remark from Addy, as she is in that phase where she questions everything I say and talks back a lot. I braced myself, fully expecting this to turn into a debate, but she looked up at me with the doughiest innocent eyes and without an ounce of sass in her she said "Why can't I lick my fingers Mom, why can't I be myself?"
OMG...time stood still for a second, her words pierced my conciousness and in a moment, my whole parenting journey flashed before my eyes. I mean I was only saying to her what we are trained to say to a child, passing down the archaic parenting "rules" to instill manners and etiquette in our kids.
Deep down I hate those old bull shit rules, as so many of them stifle the true spirit of the child. All my modern day parenting muscles started to engage and the thought of forcing Addison to stop doing something that felt so natural and comfortable to her made me feel sick.
Why can't we be ourselves? This question stayed with me for days following this harmless restaurant life lesson. As always I felt flooded with gratitude for the practice of #yoga. I began to feel immensely grateful that I have blossomed into the type of teacher that teaches just this very thing. Every day on the mat for years I have been teaching people to breathe and be themselves. If you want to rest in child pose while we are flowing...fucking do it. If I suggest a twist and you want a lunge, follow your heart over my words.
The core essence of my teaching is to lick your fingers in public if it makes you happy. So Addison reminded me of the things that really matter. So I dropped the parenting rules and encouraged my daughter to be herself, much the way I have dropped many of the "yoga rules" that are out there so that I can get out of my students way so that they can awaken and be their most authentic selves on and off the mat.
So if it makes you happy and it feels like you...I say lick your fingers in public!