My children are at the stage where they are excellent at mimicking everything I do. No matter how good, bad, small, or silly if I do it they will attempt to copy me. I started patting their diapers when I change them to check and see if they are secure, and guess what? They immediately started patting their own diapers after being changed. I decided, for some unknown reason, to put a toy cup on the dog’s nose and sure enough one of the boys comes toddling over to stick the cup on the dog’s nose. I apologized profusely to my dog for this.
The thing I have learned from watching my children watching me is that they are the mirror of my soul. Children are an honest reflection of their own parents. I remember, long ago, I was on a father and son Cub Scout camping trip and one of the other children made some minor mistake and his father just went off on him. Yelling, screaming, the whole shabingus. I went over to my father after watching that and I told him, “I’m glad you’re my dad.”
My father is not someone that comes across as a kindly or generous man. Some people have even said he makes Ebenezer Scrooge look like a saint. However, he is a much kinder and gentler person than he lets on. He may say some terrible things at times and claim to be irresponsibly selfish, but his actions are those of a man who cares, and we should judge people by their actions. It is what my boys are now doing as they watch me.
Having two little copycats watching and mimicking your every move is a way to make you extra mindful of your actions. I can say I feel a sense of pride when they want to grab and hold onto books. I will also tell you that that sense of pride quickly turns to horror as they begin ripping and eating the pages from those books. I want my children to devour literature, but not in that way.
Watching a child mimic and action taken in anger or a moment of weakness is a quick reminder to be more mindful of my own actions. The children are watching and I am one of their chief role models at this point in time, and hopefully always. The bearing of my responsibility is now to make certain that my actions are those of the person I want reflected back to me through my children’s actions.
Parenting is difficult. It is stressful, chaotic, and leads often to moments of weakness where the calm façade drops and irritation filters through. Those moments are inevitable. There are times when the children while wear away the frayed ends of sanity and our better angles won’t always catch us in time. This is when you will see the reflection of your true self in your child’s mimicry. It is here that we must recognize our own failings and work towards being better and helping our children to be better.
It is what every parent wants. To raise their children to be better than themselves. The best way to do that is to glance at our reflection. Watch the actions our children mimic, and decide which ones we wish to curate and which we wish to eliminate. Then we must work on eliminating in ourselves the actions we wish to eliminate in our children because only through improvement of the self can we improve our reflection.