Remember that song from preschool? "Oh be careful little ears what you hear/Oh be careful little ears what you hear/Cause the Father up above is looking down in love/Oh be careful little ears what you hear." Then there is a verse for your mouth and your hands. Anyway, I need to have that song tatooed on my head. My son internalizes everything I say to him. He must understand most of it because I promise you, it comes back to me in the most original ways. I am humbled almost daily.
For example, when he starts driving me crazy and I start yelling, he absolutely slays me with: "Don't talk to me like that mommy" or "Now be nice mommy" or my personal favorite, "You don't have to yell I'm right here."
His favorite comment, "NO" has been replaced with this gem: "I will be so happy to do that mommy in just one minute. I need to finish what I'm doing." Hmm, do you suppose I've said this a few hundred times?
And today we're pulling into the McDonald's parking lot and my son sees a tow truck a few spaces away. "Why is that tow truck there mommy? Do you think someone had a wreck? I guess that weren't paying attention. Do you think that's it?" He's very interested in why people aren't paying attention. Every time he gets in trouble for not following directions, he is asked, "were you not paying attention?"
Then there are those emotional zingers: "I'm just so sad mommy" or "I'm not talking to you right now!"
This morning after we finished in McDonald's my son says to me, "I'm not sad anymore mommy. [I didn't know he was sad, whoops.] I really had a great time at McDonald's. What was your favorite part of the trip mom?" I don't have to teach my son to say thank you. He thanks me just by taking up space on this planet. All I did was give him a jelly biscuit and let him play in the playground for 15 minutes.
How did this happen? Where is my toddler? My heart is strangely warmed by his statements. He has taken my admonishment to use his words to heart. At the same time, I am thoroughly ashamed. What else is he saying when I'm not around? I am not a perfect parent. I've been known to drop a few choice words in his hearing on more than a few occassions. Not only that, when I lose my temper, I really let the words fly and they are not always nice comments. You know sticks and stone make bruises and break bones, but you can't ever take back an insult or a hurtful word. Those words are out there forever. I truly hope I haven't scarred my son for life already!
I have never been one to guard my mouth, but in light of all this personal reflection, I have decided to try. In the last week I've been in a small group discussion, an individual discussion, and a sermon that all revolved around seeing and saying the truth, controlling one's anger, and taking responsibility for your interaction with others. YIKES. Perhaps it's a warning light that my bad kharma is coming??? I hope that I will be more "present" in the future, especially with my children. If they can't learn good behavior from me, who will they learn it from? I do take comfort that my oldest (who can talk) has no problems throwing his little arms around my neck and saying, "I just love you mom." The best I can do to erase those past hurtful words is to throw my arms around his neck and say "I love you" right back. If we keep saying it, living it, and believing it, when we're 94 and 66 maybe there will be more positive words floating around out there than negative ones. Until then, oh be careful little mouths what we say.