Monday, December 12, 2011

Kids are the clearest mirrors

It started slowly, with just a few phrases.

Oh, gosh. Is she saying what I think she's saying? Oh, wow. Where on earth does she get that from? Oh, man. Really?

Clara is my little mirror. Every phrase I say, she says. And every time I think that there's no possible way she's getting it from me - because, surely, that is just not something I say - I start to look for it and, sure enough, it's always something I say, and something I say a lot. (Especially "Oh, wow." I am trying to quit.)

Then there was the phase where she decided to "bite" her nails. She would walk around with her thumb in her mouth, not sucking it, but clearly imitating my nail-biting habit. Lovely.

I also can't forget how she yells at the dog when she barks, while wagging her little finger at her. She used to do that before she could even speak a word, just imitating my tone, something Luke is even doing now too.

And my personal favorite - when singing, she does a dramatic head shake as she holds the final note. I don't think I do this, but I must. And I can only hope it's when I'm joking around.

It's amazing how kids can show you yourself in ways you've never seen before. It's one part of parenting I didn't expect, but it's great for cutting back on those annoying things you say and do.

Sometimes, though, the insight is a little harsher.

So, I have been known to raise my voice around the house at times. I am trying very, very hard not to do this in front of the babies, but it's a work-in-progress.

And, when I happen to be yelling, Clara immediately breaks into "Hi, Mama! Hi, Mama! Hi, Mama!"

I know. It's heartbreaking. Don't worry, it doesn't happen often, although one time is one time too many.

The other day, though, I was talking to my husband about medications and not feeling so hot when Clara, sitting in her high chair, broke into her familiar "Hi, Mama! Hi, Mama!"

I was stunned, because I wasn't mad or arguing or yelling. "Mama's okay, Clara! It's okay!" I told her, knowing that she was, for some reason, trying to calm me down.

It happened again later that day in the car. I was telling my husband about something I saw on facebook when Clara, from the back seat, started yelling, "Hi, Mama! Hi, Mama!"

Oh, dear. I knew what was up.

"Do I sound like I'm yelling when I talk?" I asked Ryan.

"Well," he tread lightly. "You have been known to be mistaken for sounding angry when you say you aren't."

Oh my goodness, he was right. It's been at the root of many a fight between the two of us. On numerous occasions I have found myself trying to explain that I wasn't mad, or didn't mean something the way he took it. It was now all starting to make sense.

And, while I'm sure it's something that he's tried to bring up with me for years, when it comes from a child, there's no arguing with it. What better messenger can you have? She is pure and innocent, with no ulterior motives, and didn't even really know what she was doing. Her efforts to calm me down, when I wasn't even upset, spoke volumes.

I asked Ryan to explain to me what I sound like, and I asked him what he thought I could do to change. Seriously, it's weird when you think you talk like everyone else but apparently you don't. It's hard to know what to do differently!

He said it tends to happen when the topic is slightly negative, and suggested slowing down, talking a little quieter and a little sweeter. He even said to channel Mrs. Duggar!

I'm working on it. The last thing I want to do is have my daughter think her mother is mad all the time. It's one thing when she's old enough and I can just explain that I'm just passionate and animated, but right now the only thing that I can do is change. And change is probably a really good thing, anyway.

I'm sure this is only the start of my kids revealing my flaws, be it annoying sayings, mannerisms, or something much bigger. They've already made me a better person and this is just a continuation of that. And here I thought it was my job to get them into Heaven.


  1. too funny! E will imitate me when I am yelling at DH from one room to another, she just starts shouting jibberish. So funny!!!

  2. My 2 year old has started realizing when I am doing a fake smile and gritting my teeth because I am trying to keep my head from exploding, and he'll get an equally strained smile on his face and say in a sing-song voice, "I am so happy to see you!" It KILLS me b/c even though it's so cute on one level, it makes me sad on another b/c he can tell that I am faking it. They are so much more perceptive than we realize!

  3. Love this! :) E starting saying, "I know" just recently. I was wondering where this was coming from and then realized I say it a lot, haha! What does that say about me?!!! ;)

  4. GIMH - Clara says, "I know" too! And draws out the "know", which I guess R or I must do? And I should've mentioned too that she says "Come on!" That's what you say I say a lot, right? Haha! One can only hope she develops our upstate New York accent ;)

  5. This is really sweet. I'm only 17 but it simply melted my heart. Your little girl sounds like the sort of kid I'd have a tea party with and squeeze all the time. And the little children are always wiser than us. Listen to her and watch yourself--it's amazing the ways God gets His messages to you, even with little children!

  6. I'm in trouble! BIG TROUBLE!

    Love Mrs. Duggar!

  7. Oh my, how humbling! Well, I remember when my nephew J came to visit our tiny apartment. I try to keep it clean, but I work alot, we didn't fit into that place well, etc. and he proclaimed, "Auntie Sarah's house is MESSY". Wow, haha. And yes, the little mannerisms... baby F actually alerted me and Liz to how negative we can sound because he is sensitive to tone of voice more than the others. Liz and I would be having a serious conversation, and the poor little guy's lower lip would quiver, and he'd start to cry!!

  8. That is too funny! And yes I agree with Sew, she IS in trouble! :)

  9. I would have a hard time not raising my voice. Like you, I'm animated, so I am a little afraid of a kid's reaction there. I always tell myself, "I'll never do that when I have kids," but it looks like I really need to change my sayings & mannerisms before I have them.
    Another way to think of it ... Imitation is the best form of flattery! :-)

  10. Oh wow, I swear you and I are connected souls. My husband says the same thing about me - and I often have to say, "I'm not mad!" Of course raising my voice, lol! I'm a very passionate person. And I have noticed around my babies times when they pick up on it already. I am trying hard, but it's so difficult when it is such a part of you! I appreciate you writing this, though, because 1) I don't feel so alone in this and 2) It gives me an extra reminder to try and change myself too!

  11. true! My son says things all the time that either I or my husband says. His favorite is "Not now, okay?!" I'll have to look closer at what I'm saying/doing.

  12. So true! Charlie says "mom that is NOT okay." lol