Always watching. And learning.
It’s common knowledge that your children watch and model what you do, but I recently realized just how much so.
I took Friday off to spend the day with AJ and get things ready for a weekend trip. Because I am such a thoughtful wife and Chris and I had traded cars that day, I decided to clean his out for him. It definitely had nothing to do with my anxiety level every time I look in his window and can’t see any of the seats or floors. Definitely not.
AJ is in a stage right now where she loves to help with everything, and it is kind of nice. Instead of trying to chase her or entertain her while I get something done, she helps me with my task. After we filled a trash bag full of stuff from the car (hello all of AJ’s jackets I thought were lost), I turned around and she had climbed into the front seat.
And then, AJ reached behind her, grabbed the seat belt, and tried to buckle it. I was completely taken aback. Since we strap her in to her car seat before we get in our own seats, I never thought she would notice us buckling our seat belts. It’s not something we’ve talked to her about yet either.
The realization of just how much she watches us hit me like a ton of bricks. It made me feel great to know we are already teaching her a life-saving habit. But what else are we teaching her? For a while now, we’ve been trying to “childproof” some of our little bad habits. No more swearing, putting away our phones in the evenings, etc. But old habits die hard, and it’s amazing what you pick up when you are not around kids. We’ve even changed the way we sit at the table – when it was just the two of us, we sat haphazardly, propping our feat up on the extra chairs and such. And those are just the things we can think of!
It’s obvious now that AJ sees not only everything we know she sees but also those moments we think she doesn’t notice or pick up on. Having someone watch and imitate your every move really makes you examine yourself – from minor habits to bigger things. She’ll notice everything – how we treat strangers, how we treat each other, how we react when someone is rude to us. I always try to be polite but let’s be honest…we all have those days where nothing is going right and it’s easy to take it out on the guy who just cut you off in traffic. I hope moving forward in moments like that, I can remember AJ reaching for the seat belt, and behave in a way I would be proud for her to imitate.