The other day I walked into the kitchen to clean up the dishes when I realized that something smelled stinky. Like REALLY really really funky.
I examined the usual culprits: sink drain (clean for once), bucket under the snake drain (empty), and sponge. Yup, there it was. (I later remembered I had cleaned up a milk spill with it the previous night…. YUCK!)
I ran some hot water, squeezed soap onto the sponge and began cleansing the sponge by squeezing the water out over and over again. Finally all the ickiness and stench was gone.
Yesterday I had a revelation: kids are like sponges. Literally, they soak up all of their surroundings, the good and the bad. Whether we want them to or not. As parents we are (at least for the first part of their lives) the primary source of what “stuff” goes into them- physically, mentally and emotionally.
I have a terrible habit of yelling “Dang it!” when I drop something and it lands on my feet (which happens pretty much all the time… I need to get those magnets removed from my feet one of these days). I know the word “dang” isn’t an awful word, but when I was little we were not allowed to say it. A couple of weeks ago my 2.5 year old dropped her doll on the floor and let out a loud “Dang it!” Oops. Yeah, that was me coming out of my daughter’s mouth, and not in a way I am proud to admit. We talked about how she isn’t allowed to say that, and mommy shouldn’t say that either. (Talk about eating humble pie!)
There are other times my little “sponges” are squeezed and yucky stuff comes oozing out: bad attitudes, yelling, bickering, the list goes on. The bad, stinky parts of me come oozing out. They soaked up some of my poor qualities and are magnifying my bad behavior to the hundredth power.
Talk about a humbling realization. “Oh be careful little eyes what you see; ears what you hear; mouth what you say; feet where you go.” Funny how those simple songs we sang as kids can sometimes mean so much more to us now as adults!
So where do I go from here? How do I make things right?
First off, the person I need to change is me. I need to consciously make a bigger effort to display the kinds of things I would not be embarrassed to have my kids display. Parenting is not passive, it is active and full of intention. Be the kind of person I want my kids to be!
Secondly, I need to apologize and tell my kids when I do something wrong. Talk about why we shouldn’t do that thing, and then work on holding each other accountable. (Kids are reeeeeeeally good at pointing out when you do something wrong, FYI! “Mommy, guess what daddy did??”)
Thirdly, celebrate the times changed behavior works. (Holding your breath and counting to ten when you step on a Lego someone left on the floor after being told to pick it up twenty times that day, for example.—> This may or may not be a daily occurrence in our house.)
Lastly, don’t expect perfection. We are never going to be perfect parents with perfect behaviors, attitudes and words. The important thing is that we try our hardest, point out our own short-comings, and move forward together. Likewise, we shouldn’t place unrealistic expectations on our kids. They didn’t learn their bad behaviors overnight, and they most likely won’t lose them overnight.
Lather, rinse, squeeze, repeat. Smells better already! 😉