The other day,
I asked my son if he was done eating breakfast. I explained that I wanted to
clear his plate and clean up. He looked up at me and said, "Not on my watch!"
Here was this little 6-year-old saying such an adult
expression. It was so adorable coming out of his mouth, hearing how serious he
got about it. I told him that I would leave the plates on the table and that he
could finish his breakfast at his leisure. I certainly would not be clearing
the plates on his watch.
I didn't just need to watch what I said, I had to watch how I acted, too.
wasn't laughing anymore. He was repeating something I'd said earlier. Yes, I
suppose it was funny, but it was also kind of scary. It made me realize
something: I need to watch what I say. My kids are internalizing everything I
say, everything I do, and it was helping to form their vocabularies.
I began to take note of other
things they said, things that I knew didn't come from me. When I heard my 4-year-old say, "That's cuckoo crazy!" I
texted his teacher. Turns out, that was one of the phrases she used in class
that he was bringing home.
Because it was more than that. I realized my kids weren't just mirroring
how I spoke, expressions they heard me use. They were also mirroring my moods.
When I got frustrated, they got frustrated. When I was angry, they were angry,
too. They'd get shorter with me—and each other. But if I was calm, they'd follow suit.
Sure, we want our kids to be just like us. But not in all ways.
I didn't just need to watch what I said, I had to watch how I acted, too. So, I tried to be calmer, quieter. More
gentle. My aim each morning when I got up was to be more patient that day than
the day before. Every day when they got home from school, I'd prepare myself. I'd
let go of my work day and focus on being a calm, happy mommy.
But I'm only
human, and sometimes I get frustrated. Sometimes I'm tired. Sometimes I don't
have a ton of patience.
I'm trying to
be better. I've cleaned up my vocabulary—no more F-bombs from me. We also
outlawed the use of the words hate, gun, and kill. We've even established a little jar that we pay money into if
we say any "bad words." (I'm embarrassed to admit how much is in there, just
from me alone. Suffice it to say, it's a lot. A LOT. But it's less and less each week.)
working on my moods. Even when my kids are misbehaving, I try to put a smile on
my face. I try to speak in a gentle tone. I try to keep my mood upbeat, so that
they have something positive to emulate.
Sure, we want
our kids to be just like us. But not in all ways. Only the good ones. So, as
our kids get older, we need to be the
people we're trying to raise them to be. Which is a daily struggle. Some days
the "bad words" jar is filled to the brim. Some days it doesn't see any action