"I don't understand why you want to wear nightgowns to bed every night. I buy you perfectly nice pajamas, and you never wear them because you always want to wear nightgowns. If you want to wear nightgowns all the time, then I won't buy you pajamas anymore."
Thus I chastised my daughter one morning as we changed her our of her nightgown into shorts and a tank top.
To which she responded, "Do you know why I want to wear nightgowns to bed every night? It's because I want to be like you, Mama."
What parent hasn't had a moment like that? Looking with disdain on something your child is doing, only to realize that they are only trying their best to follow your example.
It brings such unexpected, maybe even unwanted, weight to our decisions as parents. Why should we bear such weighty responsibility? Is it fair that what used to be such easy, inconsequential decisions now are not so easy, and bear consequences? Is this what we signed up for when we participated in procreation?
In one word? Yes.
When you have a child, you suddenly have a tiny disciple. Someone watching you, following you, copying you. Whether you're aware of it or not, whether you intended it or not, whether you want it at all. Suddenly, everything you do... matters.
What's more, we can't even just tell our children the right thing to do. Or better yet, have them watch a video series, go to a seminar, and read a good book about "How to Be a Good Person". They won't be shrugged off so easily. Nope, they're becoming little versions of you.
The day will come when our example will matter less, our words and explanations will be understood a little better- though still not necessarily followed, and they won't intentionally try to be so much like us anymore. But today they are small. Today they are pure and untainted by life and experience and pain. Today they are learning all they know about life and being human from us.
So when you look past all the books and flashcards, when you silence the words and nagging, when you remove the clamor of voices and lessons:
What are you really teaching your children?