I was sitting in the kitchen chatting with my 5-year-old about random things when I heard him say, "Remember when you told me I ask WHY too much? That was funny."
I don't remember the exact moment, but I have no doubt I said it, and I have no doubt I didn't say it to be funny. I'm sure I was just frustrated with: Why does the dog have fur and we have hair? Why is school on that side of the road? Why isn't Apple a color when an Orange is Orange?
When I hear it played back to me, it sounds terrible - aren't we always told to encourage our children's curiosity? I shouldn't be telling him to stop asking Why. Hmm, I need to remember that one.
Which caused me to playback a number of things I've heard out of my children's mouths that I know at one time came from me. I'll never forget when I was driving with my oldest child and she was about three at the time. A truck didn't see our car and completely cut us off and we narrowly avoided a tragic accident. While I let out a little yelp, my cute little pig-tailed daughter behind me muttered, "Jackass."
From that moment on, I vowed to watch what I say - don't want those words coming back to haunt me.
So we know the obvious. Don't swear, Don't squash inquisition or dreams, Don't yell, Don't insult, etc.
However it's the small stuff that we forget to pay attention to that often has a big impact. While watching a soccer tournament last weekend, the final game ended in a tie and resulted in a shootout where the coach picked five players to attempt shots on the goalie. After the game I asked my nine year old why she didn't ask to be one of the five. After hours of probing, she admitted that she had seen how disappointed I was after a terrible swim meet my other daughter had and she was too afraid of disappointing me if she missed.
Talk about shot to the gut. I didn't even know she saw me after said swim meet. I was very conscious of being supportive to the daughter that didn't do well, but forgot about my actions when the swimmer wasn't around.
Everything we do as a parent is watched. Sometimes we're human and don't always make the right decisions. Sometimes we let emotions get the better of us. Sometimes we say things that we wish we could take back.
We can't undo all the things we've done wrong, but we can try to live as conscious as possible and remember how powerful our words and actions are to our children. However, there is hope, it's not all bad. Sometimes we get rewarded for our role modeling.
I was waiting in the parking lot for my high schooler to come out. I saw a mom making her way through the other side of lot, struggling with a stroller, three rambunctious kids and carrying a couple of bags. At the same time I saw my daughter burst out the glass doors and dash toward my car (she knows I'm always in a hurry to drop off or pick up someone else). She passed the woman and almost made it to my car door, when I saw her pause for a second, then high-tailed it back to the same doors she just left. At first I thought, Oh great, she forgot something. We're going to be late. She flung the glass door open and just stood there, holding it wide and waiting for the mom and her entourage to go into the building. After each offspring was safely inside she ran to my car and jumped in apologizing for being late.
We drove in silence for a while and I said, "What made you go back and open the door for that woman?" She completely shrugged it off and said, "Oh I don't know - I guess because it was the right thing to do?" I loved that answer and I silently added to her response - Because I've seen you do the same thing mom...