Monday, August 15, 2011
Toddlers and ShamWows
How could these two things be even remotely similar?
It is easy to see when you think about it. They both pick up more than you would ever expect.
The ShamWow is designed to absorb something like 50 times its weight in liquids. It also picks up dirt, hair, small rodents, and occasionally a small child. Before you wring it out you need to carefully inspect the contents of it.
Toddlers pick up everything. Not physically, though they are constantly surprising me with their feats of strength. I'm talking mentally.
I knew they were absorbent, but I had no idea just how much they would understand.
When our girls get sleepy, they will often put their hand on the side of their head (sign language for sleep - add it to my list). If I don't catch that sign, they will come to me with their sleep sack in one hand and then lead me to the changing room with the other, so they can be changed and put down.
Just the other day, as Julia was babysitting another slightly younger toddler, Hadley did an amazing thing. I didn't see it first hand, but Julia told me about it when I got home from work. She went to slightly-younger-toddler's bag, opened it and removed all the items he needed to nap. Then, she took them into the changing room and lovingly placed them in his pack-n-play. Lovingly means she tossed them over the side, and then came back to the living room to play. Her work was done.
She picked all of that up just watching and listening. That got me thinking:
How much else has she been picking up on that we just don't yet know about?
How many times have I been critical of someone or something and she's heard it?
Does she file that away and plan to use it at a most inopportune time?
Are my actions even at this stage shaping how she will interact with others?
Our girls are hanging on every word and action of ours, so we need to be extra careful in everything we do and say.
It might be cute, to some people, the first time their children drop the F-bomb at a family gathering, but not to me. We work so hard to teach them to be obedient and respectful, but I often forget they are always listening and learning from us - the good and the bad.
We don't often swear at our house, but an occasional one slips out. Maybe one of our dogs got underfoot when we were making dinner, so we let something fly. Maybe I was tired, misunderstood something my wife said, and reacted poorly. My little ShamWows don't just cue in on the words I use, but on my tone as well.
Baby-proofing means not only protecting our children from physical dangers in their environment (which often includes locking the toilet seat down, so at 3 AM my bladder is bursting while I try to open it), but it also means protecting them from our words and actions.