This statement alone has a lot to unpack: Kids do what you do, not what you say.
You can take this into a number of directions, but the truth of this phrase really didn't hit home until I became a Mom. I watched kids at different points in my life growing up to make the occasional extra cash or help out family members with their young-lings. I intuitively knew I had to set the example when I was around younger kids - I mean, when you're in charge, you gotta act like it right?!
But once you were off kid duty - you could go back to your less than exemplary habits. For example; No - you can't drink straight from the orange juice container. You need to drink from a glass...
Who hasn't taken a swig straight from the orange juice container, or milk jug, or more joyfully from a whipped cream can when you thought no one was looking... I think we're all guilty here. However, I got my first dose of this reality (in a more heavy-handed example than drinking from a juice container) that there is no off kid duty anymore - you have to set the right example every. damn. time.
As a joke, a family member who shall not be mentioned decided it would be cute to teach my son how to say 'No' and waggle his tiny head swiftly from the left to the right and back again. I love said family member, but I could borderline slap this person in the noggin' for this one. Guess who has overwhelming adopted babbling something close to 'no, no, no' while shaking his head side to side - my 9 month old son.
Now, you're probably chuckling and thinking to yourself 'been there sweetheart' and 'this is so minor - who cares?!' Yes, it is minor and was cute at first, but now it's not cute and my son doesn't understand why it's not funny anymore. Which to this point, we shouldn't have encouraged it (our mistake) AND he's still too young developmentally to grasp the intricacies of this interaction.
Metaphorically, this is like the eye of the hurricane - everything seems totally fine - BUT then the wind picks up, the rain starts and before you know it....You're not in the eye of the storm anymore. You're thigh high in water and trying to get to higher ground (or rather the time before you made the mistake you're currently suffering for).
What I realized is that even my tiny little person - who has only just begun crawling and can barely put a string of sounds together to make up a comprehensible word is already doing what we do, not what we say. I didn't think I was doing anything to be overly cautious of. This incident has made me "look in the mirror" and what I actually see now is someone who isn't setting the example she wants to be setting.
Now, with that awakening looming over an already over-pooped mom, what is one to do?
Ironically, I've prioritized the things that I will make an effort on and decided to forgo the rest. And guess what? When you decide what you want to focus on - you actually feel liberated. Do I care about cussing in front of him, not so much. How about a little screen time? Nope, he's going to live with screens his whole life. And listening to kid specific music - shoot me, he's going to know that his mom loves early 2000's Hip Hop and R & B. In fact, there's a large portion of her brain that has stored every lyric.
What do I care about? Showing him how to become a strong, independent individual. When you show up for yourself and do the things that are important to you - that little person who follows you around begins to actually act like your shadow. I hope that one day my now shadow shows me that I showed up as the best for both him and me.
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