They turn the colorful cardboard pages of their toddler board books. They lift their gaze now and then, look up at the adults sitting with them. They clap when they see something that delights them on the page. They clap when they see a brightly spotted black and white image of a cow in the book. Then they say, “Mooooo.”

Fifteen-month-old fraternal twins Walker and Taylor also dance and bounce their heads to the song, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” They stop after a verse here and there to bring their palms together and beam genuine entire-face smiles, eye crinkly at the edges. These boys know how to celebrate life’s little moments.

Walker’s winsome sapphire eyes tease. Taylor’s magical grin lures the adults into the 110th round of “Head and shoulders, knees and toes, (knees and toes). Head and shoulders knees and toes.” The boys giggle. As soon as the lilting tune starts, “head and,” their chubby hands pop up and slap the sides of their temples. They raise their eyebrows; Taylor’s dark like his mother’s, Walker’s blond like his Dad’s. The twins act like schoolchildren making sure the teacher spots them. Their mother, father and grandparents do and exclaim, “We see you. Yes, that IS your head. YAAAAY!”

Their fingers rise again and twirl their strands of hair, yellow and brown, and then they clap. They take time to cavort a bit and to acknowledge themselves, inner joy voices cheering them on.

Walker knows other body parts so the adults prompt him, “Where’s Walker’s tummy?” He pats himself, like a jolly Santa’s ho-ho-ho. “Yeaaaaah,” his grandmother claps too, and tickles his belly. Walker leads the applause and everyone makes merry.

Taylor’s spindly legs, newly walking, now fairly skate over the carpet. He sprints to the middle of the room, his face brightening, eyebrows lifted as he spots everyone watching him. Still staring at his adoring fans, mid-run, he brakes to a standstill. He stops, claps, then changes direction and jogs toward the windows where he watches the passing dogs, claps again and makes spirited woof-woof doggie sounds.

Walker, not yet quite so adept at balancing, grunts “Uh-uh,” perhaps code for “Watch me!” The adults play along, answering his call for attention and ask, “OK. Walker, what does a fish say?” He scrunches his mouth open and closed, his tightened lips poof out and then pull in. Walker pushes himself up from a crawl onto two legs, claps at the top, dips and squats a few times, claps again. His round baby blues invite parents and grandparents to join him in his own standing ovation.

Contagious, the babies’ happiness spreads. With their innocence in every new discovery, they entertain themselves and others. By their simple delight in the wonder all around, they show the grown-ups how to celebrate life’s passing moments — the dawn, hugs, and sunsets. The wide-eyed ones, perhaps the greatest spiritual gurus, can train the older ones, who tend to fall asleep in the world, to feel the pleasure of achieving small or large things. If we really pay attention to their clapping, the little ones could teach the big ones how to write books with titles like:

“Everything We Ever Learned About Joy, We Learned From the Grandchildren.”

Susan Lebel Young, MSEd, MSC, teaches mindfulness, yoga and meditation and is the author of “Lessons from a Golfer: A Daughter’s Story of Opening the Heart.” She can be reached at:

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.