The other morning, my soon-to-be 2-year-old son slung my purse over his shoulder grabbed my car keys and said, “bye, bye” while waving his hands.
“Where you going?” I asked playfully.
“Bye, bye,” he responded walking down the hallway.
Of course, he picked up this behavior from watching me act out the same routine countless times. He plays this imitation game often by mimicking my husband and I on the telephone or pushing a broom across the floor. It is super duper adorable to see him act as a teeny adult. More importantly though, it is a sign of healthy development and a signal to my husband and I to exhibit the kind of behavior that is worth intimating.
That should go without saying but we do so many unconscious things that it’s easy to forget your little person is always watching and learning from your every word and move. On a recent weekend afternoon, my and husband I were streaming music through the Apple TV while cleaning the house. Without thinking my husband points to the TV and says, “Skip this song. It sucks.” I didn’t give it much thought either until our son started pointing at the TV and shouting, “Sucks! Sucks!”
As far as swear words go, that one measures as a three on the potty-mouth scale but it reminded us to be more mindful of what we say and do. We all know the old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.” The fault with that philosophy is inconsistency. Children are quite observant and pick up on hypocrisy from a young age. It’s hard to convince your teenager that smoking is a bad habit when you smoke.
But as my mother always says no one is perfect. I will vow to be the best role model I can be for my child without getting too obsessive about it. I know I will not always be consistent. Still, I can try and I can hope that he will learn from my triumphs as well as my mistakes.
The older I get the more I realize how many of my parents traits and habits I have picked up, as well as the traits I have deliberately tried not to mimic. My mother is the queen of being worrisome. I too am worrisome but seeing how corrosive always fretting can be has made me more intentional about reducing worry in my life.
In that way, I learned from her that while stress can be a great motivator balancing worry with moments of calm makes for a much more peaceful existence. And now, I’m teaching her how to take some things in stride too. That’s the beauty of the parent-child relationship. You learn from one another. As my little man grows up, I look forward to seeing the world from his eyes and possibly some day modeling his good behavior.