Monday, June 17, 2013

The Inner Voice of Toddlers

Life is Good: my kids are listening to me!

Yesterday during naptime, or rather, what was supposed to be naptime, I heard the little one on our monitor repeating three phrases, "Oopsies. Oh no. Aw, man!" Over and over, "Oopsies. Oh no. Aw, man!" I'm always grateful for the video portion of the monitor (have I ever mentioned that I would have made a terrible pioneer?). However, in this case, I couldn't really see anything except our littlest sitting in the bed with his back to the camera. But I sure could hear, "Oopsies. Oh no. Aw, man!"

I hesitated to go into his room; I didn't want him to think that naptime was over. It had never begun, after all! Then, he stood up and turned around. And I knew why, "Oopsies. Oh no. Aw, man!"

I zipped up the stairs and opened the door to a completely naked 22-month old.  He had unsnapped and unzipped, pulled, stretched, untabbed, and thrown off every stitch of clothing as well as his diaper. He greeted me with a smile and, "Oopsies. Oh no. Aw, man!" followed by belly laughs.

Let it be known: I am a giggler. If I had an automatic setting, it would be "smile and laugh". It is just my nature. So I took a big breath and did my best not to even smirk as I re-diapered and clothed my wee one and explained ever-so-gently that it was time for nap. Big, smiling blue eyes looked at me as if to say, "Aren't you proud of me? Look how skilled and independent I am! Praise me for this big development milestone, lady!" I am sure that my clamped-down jaw and strange, fighting-not-to-smile lip configuration was quizzical at least. After a back rub as I sung "May All Children", our littlest obliged me by finally taking a nap. With all of his clothes on.

Before I got back to the tasks at hand, I stopped to ponder. "Oopsies. Oh no. Aw, man!" Okay, "oopsies" I get. I say the word a lot. It's my way of making light of mistakes. I want my children to understand that everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect or infallible. Nothing sounds too awful when accompanied by the word, "oopsies", right?

And "Aw, man!" Hmm. I didn't know that you could say that, little person. Then again, the past six weeks or so, you seem to repeat every word and phrase you hear. Often, it is accompanied by a little giggle of delight. A kind of verbal, self pat on the back. I'm sure you've heard each one of us in the family say this phrase from time to time. You are a developmental dynamo right now. It is so exciting to be witness to this special time in your life.

As for "oh no". Well, I guess that comes from me, too. You never know yourself as much as when you hear or see it through the form of your child's words and actions. I seem to say those two little words with a variance of inflection and tone, 99% of the time light-heartedly and most of the time when I have forgotten something (like where I left my brain...oh, yeah. I am pretty sure it fell out with the placenta!).

You may be little, wee one, but you are listening. And watching. You have your eyes and ears open twenty-four-seven. Which means I have to be committed to showing you the best of me and this world. That's the pact I made with you when you were born and I am sticking to it. I am not perfect, as you have already discovered (thanks for not mentioning that..." make a lot of mistakes, mama. Oh no. Aw, man!") but I am committed to doing my best and each morning, I wake up, thank God for the chance to do things right today and feel grateful beyond words that I get to be your mommy. So I am going to be intentional about my words and my tone and my expressions. Because I know that what flows out from me, spills onto you. And you deserve nothing but goodness and kindness and love. Because I know that what I give to you in the form of my words and my actions is what you will take out with you into the world. “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” (Peggy O'Mara)

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