Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Things I Accidentally Taught My Kids

Curlytop, age 15 months
"Shhhh, Mama... you've said enough, already."
I’m the proud mother of two of the best little mimics on the planet. That means Curlytop and Snugglebug say, “No, thank you,” when they actually mean, “Not if my life depended on it,” and “Bless you,” for coughs as well as sneezes—because their mother believes a coughing body needs as many blessings as a sneezing one. Instead of “I hate that,” they dutifully respond, “That’s not my favorite,” when offered a food they don’t care for.

Unfortunately, they’ve also picked up some rather curious lingual patterns.

They’ve confused more than one waitress by expressly requesting a “cow burger,” because I feel it’s important for them to know hamburgers are made from cows, not from ham. They’ll also vocalize their preference for either “cow milk” or “soy milk,” depending on the kid, the day, or the mood.

Neither of my darlings actually knows how to “pet” an animal, but they routinely ask, “May I ‘softly’ the kitty?” due to my repeated cries of “Softly! Softly!” every time they reach for an animal.

I had no idea how deeply my chronic migraines were affecting my kids until I asked Curlytop to pick her dirty clothes up from the floor and she refused, claiming, “I need to lie down in the dark, ‘cause my head is making me sick. You just need to leave me alone and be quiet, okay?”

Ever vigilant of the girls’ sensitivity to food dye, I had a proud moment a few weeks ago when Curlytop refused a red lollipop from a bank teller, saying, “I’m allergic to Red Dye 40. Do you have a yellow one?”

This morning, Snugglebug disagreed with me about the best use of her time. I suggested she put her dirty cup in the sink, before she wanted to play outside. Tears ensued. “That makes me very, very serious,” she insisted. This, my friends, was the moment I realized I only say, “Listen to me—I’m serious!” when I am, in fact, running out of patience and on the verge of a mommy meltdown. My poor kid thinks “serious” is a synonym for “ticked off, and about to boil in my own rage.”

I got another dose of my own medicine the other day when I denied Curlytop a sixth gumdrop, and the enraged kindergartner fired my own words back at me—“Don’t you tell me ‘no.’ That’s not a nice way to talk!” In my defense, I was a bartender for years, and I’m well aware of the signs of over-service. The kid had reached her gumdrop limit, and probably should have been cut off after the third.

Some kids relish the thought of an adventure, but no phrase will ruin Snugglebug’s day like hearing, “You’re going on an adventure with Daddy!” Somewhere along the way, she figured out “adventure” is code for “a very long day, cooped up in the car while Daddy takes pictures of property for his real estate business.” I’m a fan of deductive reasoning, but do they have to learn so quickly?

I overheard Curlytop cry, “Are you kidding me?!” the other day when a crayon broke while she was coloring. I’ll confess to being the source of that phrase of frustration—one I adopted only after Mr. Wright insisted I stop using more colorful exclamations within earshot of the children.

Last week the girls were playing with their dolls in an adjacent room, and I heard the sounds of an imagined family scene—a mother making food, a father working, children playing… It wasn’t long before the mother doll’s “voice” instructed the children, “You don’t have to like your food, but you do have to eat TWO BITES before you can leave the table,” closely followed by, “I am NOT impressed with that behavior.”

It turns out I’m not the only role model around here.

A couple weeks ago, Snugglebug said, “When I get big, I want to have a big, big tummy… Just like Daddy!”

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