Sorry for the blurry picture, but that’s all I got today. That is Oliver during a self-imposed time alone making a nest in my room with a dozen or so collected pillows. He got mad and ran off. His running off today was prompted by something I said. He doesn’t look too mad in the picture. I guess the nest worked. The other is Benton, of course, having thrown himself on the floor, because Oliver wronged him and ran away. He knows I have the camera though and a smile is coming.
You never know when something you say to your kids will have a lasting effect, good or bad. Since my kids came along, I have found myself censoring what I say. Mostly because I fear the negative effects. A month ago I overheard a little kid say something at the park that made me think. Later that night I announced to my husband that I would no longer be using the words kill or killing in casual conversation. As in “these shoes are killing me” or “you’re killing me here” or “I could just kill him...” It isn’t a word I use much anyway (I usually wear comfortable shoes and I think of myself as a very patient person and rarely get that exasperate with people), but when I heard a kid playing around, tell his mom that he was going to kill her, I thought it sounded so wrong. I can’t imagine my little guys saying that to me.
In addition to nixing “kill” from my casual conversations, there are a few other things I do not say around my kids. For starters, I have never said anything about my weight or dieting. I have talked about exercising because I go to the gym and we like to get out and exercise together. I think not-so-kind thoughts about my body, but I never say them out aloud. We talk about being healthy and the fun we have hiking, biking or playing at the park.
I also try to avoid “hate” and various swear words and certain adult topics for obvious reasons. I never complain about the people in our lives, especially my sweet and fantastic husband, to the kids. In their eyes you are all wonderful people (mine too, I really have nothing to complain about, but if I did my kids would never know).
Despite my conscious effort, things still go wrong. Just the other day, Oliver, who wanted to eat a snack in the living room, said, in the sweetest voice, this: “Mom, where’s that freaking tray?”
On a brighter note, he hears the good stuff too. Tonight, we were all in bed reading and he announced “I love all of you so much.” Later, the little guy was tossing and turning and trying to go to sleep and I swear I heard him say ”I hate this.” I ‘m thinking “What?” and then “Weird” It makes me laugh though. I am sure he heard one of us say that. Just a reminder that regardless of our best intentions, we are not perfect parents. Not that I ever thought I was one.
Finding the love of your life can truly make you want to be a better person, but having children makes me want to be Mary Poppins. Sadly, I am not “practically perfect in every way” as Mary was, but I do alright. I want my kids to be extraordinary and I feel the weighty responsibility of modeling patience, kindness, honesty, love, and empathy for others, not to mention all the other qualities I want to foster in them. I’m sure I’ll write about those another day.
For now, I will continue to focus on modeling empathy and patience with myself, the world and with my stubborn and bossy, but brilliant and adorable 3 year old. Benton doesn’t yet challenge me in that way, but I’m sure it is coming.
UPDATE: This morning “I hate this” turned into “I hate you.” Shocking. Oliver ran away and came back in a few minutes. I asked him where he heard that word. He said “the YMCA.” I felt guilt coming over me for leaving him in a hostile environment just so I could exercise, but tried to stay focused. He climbed up into my lap and told me a boy said that to him and also “to stay away” from him. Ok. So we talked about telling mommy about these kinds of things instead of taking out his hurt and anger on others and what to do at the Y if it happens again.
My poor sweet boy. He had no idea what to do. He had never been spoken to that way. He mentioned his real friends and said they would never talk to him like that. We have been sick and haven’t seen anyone in awhile, so I think he was really missing his playmates. In retrospect, it is scary how much that one incident nearly 2 weeks ago has influenced how he has interacted with all of us.
Any thoughts about all this or similar incidents with your kiddos? Leave a comment or send me an email.