Like it or not, they watch. They listen. And then, they emulate. They pick up on attitudes, mannerisms, likes and dislikes, and moods. They notice inconsistencies and injustices. The world notoriously underestimates their perceptiveness. If a daughter hears her mom constantly talking about how much she loves to shop, then a miniature shopper will soon emerge in that household. If a son sees his daddy watching football every Saturday, then that kid will probably get the football gene imprinted on him, too. And if your child knows who your favorite musical group currently is (or used to be), then they will regurgitate that opinion as their own on a report at school. Which is what my 6-year-old did today.
Her first-grade assignment was: "If you could meet a famous person, who would you like to meet? And what three questions would you ask them?"
To my amusement, this is what my daughter brought home. I have transcribed the report below the picture.
"I wanted to meet the Noo Kids. I now a lot of ther sog's. My mom rele likes them. Wen they wer yug they wer rele famis. Now they are stel famis. At the end of the yer my mom will go to ther consrt. She will take a pechr and show it to me. Som of thim are dads. Can I have your odgraf? What are your kids names? What was it like wen you wer yug?"I suppose I should not have been surprised. Why wouldn't she want to meet the New Kids on the Block, who her mommy liked way back when and still does this time around? The realm of "famous people" that she knows about is pretty limited, outside of fictional characters. On an artistic note, I like that the guy on the far left, (who my daughter identified as Joey), proportionally has much bigger hair than the rest, which was certainly true in 1990. And I'm certain that the Noo Kids themselves would be thrilled to know that kids today would like to ask them what the world was like decades ago, back in the old days when they were young.
"What did your teacher say?" I asked.
She grinned and said, "She laughed."
I'm sure she did. Most kids in her class were answering with Hannah Montana and the President. How many would know about a pop culture phenomenon that occurred way before their time? And even if they did, why would they care? There's only one answer to that...
Because mommy does.
It's sweet. It's precious and dear, and all of those things. But it's also very sobering.
My daughter's report is a prime example of the stamp that I can place on my kids...for better or for worse. (And this is where I will ask the peanut gallery to refrain from ribbing me about the specific "stamp" I have just discussed.) Our beliefs, philosophies, and attitudes are the very first ones that our children encounter in this world. And that counts for a lot. It is an incredible responsibility. I heard a mother at the school today telling her child to get his (blank) out of the car. That's a type of stamp. The way that I talk about other people, in public and behind closed doors, is like a template for my kids to use. Whatever life-perspective, whatever worldview, whatever preference that parents voice is like handing it to their children on a platter.
And then in turn, they will pluck it from that platter and consume it, digest it, and ask for more, being the little computerized sponges that they are. That is, at least until age 12, when everything changes. But I'm not there yet.
These days, I can enjoy (or rather, be mindful of) the fact that she is into whatever mommy is into. My little mini-me. We only get one chance to do this parenting thing. One time around the (ahem)...block.
And little copycats are always watching.
Hang tough until next time,