This morning the kids and I were playing some soccer in the front yard. As we were running from one goal to the next, Kaia made the comment, I’m running like mom does.
It struck me immediately how closely our children are watching us and modeling their behavior on ours. And I was suddenly very proud of Denette, who has never enjoyed running but about six months ago decided to run a marathon in October. She has been dedicated to her goal the whole time, and Kaia has obviously noted it.
Then I thought of Logan’s burgeoning interest in soccer. He’s playing AYSO this year for the first time and I’m coaching his team. My excitement, my interest, the handmade soccer goals, the new soccer shoes, all this demonstrates to Logan is that if he wants my attention it had better have something to do with soccer. So for the past two weeks he’s been begging me to go outside and play.
I began to reflect on recent behavior I’d seen in both kids and I saw a strong correlation between what they considered important and what Denette and I did or how we acted throughout the day. So, despite our best intentions, they based their own behavior almost exclusively on our actions as opposed to our remonstrations or lectures on moral rectitude. This brings up a whole host of issues about behavior, perception, and cognition that I’d rather just avoid completely. But I can’t. Because I’m a parent who cares which makes it all relevant. And annoyingly important.
Now, after that explanation of Logan’s and Kaia’s actions I feel like I’ve taken all free will and independent thought away from them. (No, you may NOT have any freedom before bedtime; you’ve already brushed your teeth). Actually, I still think that my kids choose things that they want to do based on other influences and their own desires, but I think much of that is shaped by how Kirsten and I behave and the decisions we make for ourselves—it forms the foundation of their worldview and ultimately their way of being-in-the-world. (Thank you, Heidegger, for screwing up my ability to write cogently).
And then I thought about how much time I spend on this laptop: and how often Logan and Kaia try to drag me away from it to play: and how often I tell them to turn off the tv and no you can’t play on the computer go outside it’s a beautiful day I’ll be right there I just have to read this article/finish this email/run this report/make this phone call. And the hypocrisy sticks in my throat like a bad metaphor kicking the bucket.
If I’m going to be model, I’m going to be the kind you see on Calvin Klein billboards, not on the cover of MacAddict. I want to be beautiful for my children so they can learn to be beautiful too.
And dress nice.