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Show and Tell

How do you explain “honor your mother” to a 3 year old?
DISCLAIMER: This is not a self-pity post. Life’s grand. This is a how-do-I-do-this-job-called-motherhood post.
Seriously.  Have you ever really stopped to ask yourself why certain rules exist? Because my daughter has. And ever since her sweet little voice sounded that fateful word, I’ve been at a near loss. Stammering and turning red and saying, “Well, because…I don’t know…” doesn’t exactly get the toys into the toybox, y’all. Quite the contrary. So I had this brilliant idea: I will reason with her. She wants to know why, I’m gonna tell her why, b’golly.
Have you ever observed the attention span of a three year-old? Yeah. That’s what I thought.
If it’s a safe assumption that she only truly hears the words to which she actually pays attention before she takes off running or throws her arms around my neck or starts tap dancing on the kitchen floor, then I feel fairly comfortable saying that her idea of a reason why is any one of the following:
1. Because we should always pick…
2. Because the Bible says that we should…
3. Because your teeth may turn rotten…
4. Because we can’t just have clothes…
5. Because if you don’t pee pee in the potty…
6. Because vegetables have lots of…
7. Because if Mommy gets in the car and you do not…
8. Because dirt makes your hair and clothes and shoes and everything…
9. Because Mommy needs to be able to pay for our house and…
10. Because restaurant floors are very dirty from all of the…
That’s it. That’s what I’ve managed to teach my child so far. When really, all I’m after here is: clean up after yourself. Love people. Brush your teeth. Put your dirty clothes in the hamper. Pee-pee goes in the potty. Eat your vegetables. Get in your car seat when I ask you to. Bathtime will always follow playinthedirt time. Mommies go to work and kiddos go to school. Don’t crawl around under the booth at Casa Mexicana in search of missing crayons…or tortilla chips.
It’s a lot, I know, and it’s only barely skimming the surface. In the end, it always seems to come down to this: her response is directly proportionate to the amount of time I have taken to show her what I want her to know. When I brush my teeth, she wants to brush hers. When I put my dishes in the sink, she wants to carry hers, too. When I walk her into her classroom and help the teacher engage her before I fly off to work, she makes the transition more easily.
I’m afraid that sometimes my “Because” clauses are just a tired Mommy trying to find a shortcut. My bones are weary. Can’t I just tell her that I want her to pick up the toys? Well, sure. Sure I can tell her that. And then I can pick them up myself after she goes to bed, wondering why in the world Mommy kept babbling on about clean houses and kids who don’t have any toys at all and things like respect and gratitude. But when I show her, somehow it makes sense. Somehow it clicks in her little brain. Because that’s how we all work. Don’t tell me where the bar is set; show me. Show me, and I will see with eyes that could not have found it otherwise.

One response to “Show and Tell”

  1. Avatar andrea8979 says:

    Yes. Yes, you do. After you get through the first 18 months. But that's a different story altogether…
    Thanks. 🙂

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December 2010
November 2010
On My Honor
October 2010
Witch Hunt
September 2010
If, Then.
May 2010
Small Crimes
April 2010
February 2010
"It's Complicated"
January 2010