Over the last couple years, it seems our privacy as Americans is in question. People seem obsessed with whether or not their phones, personal computers, or private lives are being spied on. These rumors about being watched have become a trend I hear about almost daily on NPR.
Currently trending in my house, baby dolls. Emily is NUTS for baby dolls. She has a natural nurturing streak. The other day, I caught her tucking her doll snugly into the doll crib with blankets she purloined from her own bed. She bent and tenderly kissed dolly on the forehead.
“Nigh nigh beebee,” she cooed. “Hush, beebee.”
I gasped, clutching my heart with tears in my eyes as I watched her play out our nightly bedtime ritual with her doll. I mentally patted myself on the back for modeling love and compassion in a way that enabled her to learn how to show it herself. Really, it is kind of a magical process, if you think about it. We have provided a kind and gentle world for our toddler, who in turn is paying it forward.
Kids learn so much from what they watch us do.
There was another time when my six-year-old, Jack, saw me visibly frustrated with something. He stretched his arms out to me and said, “It’s okay, Mama. You tried your best, and you’re a great Mama. Would you like a hug?” My jaw dropped as I thanked him and accepted his embrace.
But before you get annoyed with me for being that smug, self-congratulatory mother, consider this:
On another morning, Jack, came out of his bedroom and asked if he could watch a show before going out to the school bus. This is a part of his routine. It is also a part of his routine to forget to put on his socks and shoes before his show, which is the rule to ensure he is ready to rock and roll it out to the bus stop.
“How about your socks?” I asked.
“OH great!” He screamed, “Now I have to go back into my room and get socks? Why doesn’t anyone ever help me with anything!” He melted down to the floor, sobbing. It took adult assistance and about ten more minutes before he returned to emotional baseline, put on his damn socks, and got himself out to the television.
His outburst left me wondering, Now, where have I seen that before? Of course I’ve seen our sensitive, little Jack act out this scene about a dozen times, but that wasn’t it.
To find the answer, I had to look in the mirror.
The truth is a bit uncomfortable, but I have to admit, Jack and I share the trait of being somewhat hyperbolic and histrionic. I am sure he has learned from watching my reactions when I am anxious, overwhelmed, or edgy. I would love to tell you I always take a deep breath, smile and recite my mantra “That means you’re a mom!” when I feel myself start bugging about the dishes or the dirty toilet, but that would be a bold faced lie.
There have been many times I have flounced throughout the house and crabbed about how no one helps me keep the bathroom clean, or how we can’t have anything nice because there is banana mashed into the couch cushion again. Ouch.
Here’s the thing: The conspiracy theorists have it right. The rumors are true. We are being watched. From sun up to sun down, there are eyes peeking on our every move. There are spies capturing each nice and poor choice we make in their flawless little databases. But it isn’t the government peering into our private lives, it is our children.
Or, maybe the government is monitoring us too. I don’t know about that. What I do know is it seems bitterly ironic people are so up in arms about the government monitoring our phones to catch our every text to our spouse about who is going to bring home the pizza, but we aren’t worried about the eyes that actually ARE watching, learning, and emulating what we do.
Dunno about you, but it gives me pause.
What have you caught your little one emulating of your own behavior?
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