Children are often our teachers, if you will let them be. Amidst a busy, chaotic day at work yesterday, I met such a teacher. A majestic guru in the embodiment of a seven-year-old girl I'll call Ana. Oh, you couldn't tell upon first glance. Messy hair, crooked smile, missing teeth, freckled face, skinned up knees, and paint stained hands. But, I learned more from her in sixty minutes than I have from the past few self-help books I've read.

It's Okay to be Honest about your emotions.

Ana was honest about her emotions from the minute I called her name from the waiting room. "I'm scared"; "I don't want to be here"; "I hate dentist offices"; "I'm scared this is going to hurt". As we walked down the corridor to the consultation room she slipped her little fingers through mine and held my hand. Her vulnerability hung on her like a warm blanket, it was intriguing. She held nothing back. She let me know exactly how she felt and why. Her honesty was so refreshing, so candid, so unbelievably unadult-like, that I stood in wonder of it. Ana taught me it's okay to express your honest emotions without hysterics. She was scared, she wanted to be anywhere but there, but she expressed it eloquently and calmly. I admired her.

It's Okay to be Silly.

I'm good with children and I chose a profession that allows me to work with them daily. But, I've never met anyone who laughed so easily as Ana. Everything I said was met with a deep, belly laugh. Sure, I can be funny, but this girl really made me think I had a good shot at being a stand up comedian. Every story I told her she'd giggle until her face turned red. At one point during the conversation she said, "Oh, you're silly, Carol." Her one comment made the one million worries on my adult mind disappear. Silliness. A concept I hadn't considered since I was, well, seven-years-old. She continued to be "silly" for the entire exam, often making faces, and bursting out with outrageous (but funny) comments. The world would be a better place if adults learned to be more silly.

It's Okay to ask Questions.

Ana was like a question machine. Everything I did or said, she wanted to know the "why" behind it. It wasn't irritating or annoying in any way, she's just learning about the world around her. It fascinated me. She would look me straight in the eyes and ask, "How come we are doing this?" I'd explain the reason and she accepted it. Sometimes she'd ask for further explanation, but overall she was mesmerized with the world in which she lives. Every instrument I brought out, every x-ray I took, and every story I told her peeked her curiosity in such an enviable manner. She taught me it's okay to ask questions about the world around me. 

It's Okay to Share.

Ana shared her own stories with me. Her school yard nemesis, the battlefield for the hula-hoops during recess, the boring substitute teacher, her best-friend who is mad at her for talking to her boyfriend, and her parents insistence on keeping her bed made when, "It's only going to get messy again tonight." Her openness about her life and problems captivated my attention. She shared endless stories, so much so, I fell behind on the schedule. But, it was worth it because Ana taught me it's okay to share your life with others. Opening up about life is cathartic for the soul and more people would be better for it. I know I was better after hearing about Ana's life. 

It's Okay to Wonder.

Honestly, I felt like a magician at times in the presence of Ana. I told her we had a slushy machine and they were free to patients. I might as well have told her she'd won a million dollars, she started screaming and twisting her hands in excitement for her chance to get her spoils from the appointment. When her tummy growled, I offered her a free granola bar and some juice we have on stock for afternoon appointments and she gave me the same wide-eyed look and exclaimed, "What is this place? Disneyland?!" Wonder. Gratitude. Excitement. Ana had all of these qualities. You know, the kind we, as adults, seem to have forgotten with each passing year. When was the last time you got excited over a granola bar? 

If children are the real teachers of the world, then I am one blessed woman to work with them on a daily basis. Looking back on my experience with Ana, I realized she had a zeal and uninhibited way in which she lived her life. We all should strive to be so lucky. Live life. Love it. Wow. Thanks, Ana for teaching us all.