Monkey-See, Monkey-Do, Monkey Throw Poo-poo At You

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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.

Nigh nigh bee bee.  Hush bee bee.

Nigh nigh bee bee. Hush bee bee.

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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13 responses »

  1. Great post! I noticed lately how my little one’s mood is influenced by my one’s. She’s very nervous when I’ve been histrionic or dramatic during the day. I try to avoid this but it is not always easy. On a funnier note, lately she’s become the queen of the selfie as well: I sometimes take pictures of both of us and now she takes my phone and makes (with my help) her own pictures, with her favorite cuddly toys!

    • Haha, baby selfies– adorable! I’m actually surprised my daughter isn’t doing that yet as well… Yes, children are little sponges for our moods, but we are only human as well, so it is a tough balancing act (at least for me!) xo.

      • A tough balancing act for me as well! I thought again about your parallel with the NSA: I realized that the pictures I take in big cities like Paris are so exactly tagged (to less than 10 meters: the phone is “capable” of telling me that I was at what place or even in which building…): we’re doing this to ourselves! We didn’t even have cell phones growing up (I had my first in 1998 or 1999 I guess) and our children are born with them… BTW I did not go to Paris today but you can use the others pics! xoxo

  2. I was just about to say Evelyn is too young to mirror me yet, but upon further thought, that’s not true.

    She already emulates my behavior with my cell phone: she scrolls through pictures, pretends to “type” on it and generally is always reaching for it. It has given me pause on many occasions to put the damn phone down.

    • Babies mimic us all the time, as young as when they are newborns! There are actually these cells in the brain called “mirror cells” which allow infants to look at our facial expressions (smiling, frowning, funny face, etc.) and then mirror them back to us. It is an evolutionary thing. It is also one reason why very early trauma, neglect, abuse, and witness to domestic violence can have such a profound impact on even very tiny babies. . . just a little lesson from your friendly, neighborhood, social worker! 😉

      • Wow. I had no idea. I mean, I know we can remember trauma on a soul level, I just had no idea it was also on a cellular level from such a young age. Thank you for teaching/sharing!

  3. Well my kids aren’t so little anymore but I’ve noticed that two of them have the same habit I have – which is announcing to the air every small thing that I do! I don’t know whether it’s just in the genes or if they’ve been watching me all these years and now do the same!

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