This post comes to you from a lot of different places. It comes to you from some proud parenting moments, where I hear phrases full of genuine politeness coming out the mouths of these kids we’re raising that make my momma heart soar and remind me that we’re doing at least a little something right over here. It also comes to you from Saturday morning at Kohl’s when we had a meltdown so great that it required Mitchell actually leave the store and take a minute to think about his choices in the front seat of the car. It comes from the encouragement of the sweet elderly couple that gave me and my big belly a shining smile as I shuffled two crying toddlers, Julia out of confusion and Mitchell out of pure tantrum, through the aisles wondering why in the world that store does not have carts with kids seats. And even more from their simple encouragement that meant more than they will ever know, “We had five. You’re doing a good job.” Sweet Saturday morning Kohl’s shoppers, I truly meant it when all I could muster was a, “Bless you” and a frazzled smile. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows over, here, but this journey of motherhood is so, so worth it.
Sunday morning we took an impromptu walk after church on the way home. We gave Mitchell the usual five minute warning when it was time to leave. We’ve learned he’s like any other kid and when we leave a fun place without any warning or expectation of leaving, we’re in for a meltdown. We usually give a five, two, and one minute warnings, and though I know he has no sense of how much time that actually is, he’s not surprised when we tell him it’s time to get going. He answered us with a phrase that has become a staple in his vocabulary, “That’s not a great idea.”
I honestly laughed the first time I heard him say this. He’s been telling us this for months on end, and it’s his little way of communicating, “No/I don’t like it/I don’t want to/Etc.” I can only assume he picked it up because we’re constantly encouraging him with the phrase, “That’s a great idea,” and he turned it around in his own little way to mean exactly the opposite. Part of me thinks it’s just the funniest thing, because no matter how upset he is, he’ll yell out mid-tantrum with tears in his face, “That’s not a great idea!” And while the tone of voice certainly isn’t what we’re going for over here, the words themselves are. And that’s the only way he knows how to say it. Which is pretty encouraging, let me tell ya.
It shows me that we’re keeping our words in check. I’m certainly not saying we’re perfect, but encouraged by hearing some of the things that come out of their mouths that we didn’t intentionally teach them. They’re listening even when we don’t realize it. Mitchell’s latest favorite is, “Oh my goodness.” He definitely gets that one from me. Last week, I dropped Mitchell off in his preschool classroom and we had our usual chat about what “nice words” he would use that day, and he made sure to tell me he’d use his please and thank you’s. But then, as I was walking away, he said, “And Mommy, I say may I be excused.” That earned him a big fat proud kiss on the forehead. And yesterday when we were pulling out of the driveway, Julia shouted to Steve, “Bye, honey! Love you!” I about had to put the car in park she had me laughing so hard. When they’re looking for Steve somewhere in the house, they’ll also yell, “Honey?!” Apparently he needs a new pet name. It’s not just the way we talk to them; it’s the way they hear their parents talk to each other. If the way I speak to their Daddy is full of disrespect, how in the world can I expect them to talk to him in their “nice words?” That’s what we call them when we talk about them… “mean words” and “nice words.”
And while we are 100% accountable for the words in our own home, we’re fighting the ones that come from outside our walls. The park. School. Media. Sometimes I hear things in public that make me cringe and pray that their little ears didn’t pick up on what they just heard. Mitchell came home from school singing, “poopy butt” the other day and I about had a conniption. Over-reacting, yes, but he didn’t pick that up at home! I suppose that if it’s the worst thing coming out of a preschool classroom, I should be happy. And I know there will be words that are much worse that make their way home someday and we’ll need to address when the time comes. But for now, we’re drilling into them the polite staples that we can. Please. Thank you. Addressing people with their name/ma’am/sir. May I be excused at the supper table. Looking people in the eye. So that way, when I’m dragging the crying kids out of Kohl’s, at least they’re screaming, “No, thank you!!!” as I make them hold my hand. That actually happens, and it is just as funny to me every time when they’re really angry, but can’t help but being really polite too.
We have the opportunity to attend a seminar at church on Friday called “Parent Talk.” It’s all about parenting in a biblical way, and I can.not. wait to see what we learn. Just the introduction was an eye-opener. Why parent your children to be the people you want them to be? Parent them to be who God wants to be. Reality check, right there. So there’s a few thoughts I had on our Sunday morning stroll. We had a pretty great weekend, and thanks to the holiday and not realizing daycare closes on Presidents Day until the very last minute (and a great boss), I have an unexpected Monday off to snuggle these babies up for an extra day!