Being a parent is one of the most difficult, thankless, blissful, terrifying, and fun responsibility you can ever have in life. As parents, we want to teach our kids everything we know and show them the way in life. We want to keep them from harm by providing rules, lectures, and natural opportunities to teach them valuable life skills. At the end of the day, we want them to survive this crazy and beautiful world.
If you agree with that sentiment, I want to share something that I think is valuable. You already know the wisdom I feel compelled to share but a lovely story of my six and three-year-old in conversation will help me highlight my point.
I decided to sleep in for the first time in a long time. I think my body needed a few more hours of regeneration. I am typically up between 4 and 4:30 a.m. but today I was able to snore my way to 8. The biggest consequence of said indulgence is my morning routine has to then be done with the peanut gallery screaming as if it was the last minute in the NBA Finals.
I began with making the boys breakfast to try and get them settled a bit. I then went through my workout. Next, meditation for at least twenty minutes. I have done it with them running around before and honestly, they try their best to keep it down, until someone gets hit or someone steals a football card from another’s binder.
My oldest was laying on the couch, under the covers, watching A Football Life about Cris Collinsworth. My other two were about 8 feet away, looking up the alternate uniforms of the Arizona Cardinals. Aylem (my six-year-old) loves to accurately color his football coloring book of star NFL players. Aydris (my four-year-old) decided to help him find the best picture to copy.
They must have seen a picture of someone kissing as they scrolled through the Google images. With my eyes closed, incense burning, and steady breathing, my ears picked up the conversation. Aydris, the youngest, “Nasty. I’m not going to kiss anyone.”
“You kiss Mommy and Daddy,” in a snappy retort.
“Yeah, because I love them.”
“Yeah, that’s why Mommy and Daddy kiss because they love each other.”
I smiled and completed my meditation exactly in that moment. No matter what we tell our children, it doesn’t have the power of effect their own experiences and the observation of their most trusted allies; their parents. The old school adage, “Do as I say, not as I do,” is one of the biggest pieces of misinformation for a parent.
How we behave, our actions, speak louder than any words that come out of our mouths. Our children watch everything we do. They may or may not imitate our behavior, but they now have a foundation from which they maneuver. This, I think, we are all aware. What I am hoping you didn’t miss is the fact that not only do they watch you, they then interpret what they see in their own way.
For these young boys, kissing is reserved for those you love. Being kissed by their parents is a show of love. Their parents kissing each other is an affirmation of love. To me, this is beautiful but also dangerous. Dangerous because if something as simple as a kiss, affection for a loved one, can have such an impact, imagine what the impact can be for the things that aren’t as loving, kind, or nice.
I know this is taking an unexpected turn but think about what else they may see that may not be as sweet. Think about what you’re doing in front of them. Think about how your actions can be interpreted by a young child. I guess what I am really asking is for you to simply think about what you’re doing. Think, because they are watching.