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Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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No Offense, China

Children are little sponges, aren't they?  They hear every word you say, even if you whisper it into the phone.  In another room, at the other end of the house.  With the door closed.  While you think they're busy watching Sesame Street.

They pick up on your body language too, even if it's only a slightly raised eyebrow shot for a millisecond to another adult over the head of your toddler, who you're sure isn't paying any attention.

I have long suspected that babies are born with an innate ability to spell, but they just play dumb for a few years so that we'll unwittingly let them in on big secrets, like when we tell our spouses that there's some   C-A-N-D-Y on the S-H-E-L-F that we can E-A-T after B-E-D-T-I-M-E.


My point is, as parents we're constantly communicating new information to our kids, sometimes without even knowing it - you think you're just sitting there eating cereal (you fool), but somehow you've given them the PIN for your debit card.  They absorb everything.  Well, almost everything.

I say almost  because, for some reason, if you're standing at a department store perfume counter (hypothetically speaking) and you silently mouth an opinion to your friend while the clerk's back is turned, you can count on your youngster loudly inquiring, "Mommy, what do you mean this stuff smells like crap?"  - and if you so much as bat an eyelash about it, they will work the word "crap" into every sentence they utter for the next two months.  However, you can repeat the phrase, "FOR THE LAST TIME, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, THE COUCH IS NOT A JUNGLE GYM" an infinite number of times, and that same child will never once acknowledge that they've heard you.  Why?  I don't know, friends.  It's one of the great mysteries of nature:  why do our children seem to most readily learn the lessons we pass on unintentionally?

Take Jake, for example.  He spends half his day manically scrubbing his hands, which I can only attribute to my overzealous War On Sticky Fingers, a battle I began waging when he was a baby and to which I have only recently begun to raise a reluctant white flag of surrender.  I didn't even realize how anal I was being about it until he started demanding to have his hands wiped off after swinging at the playground - at age three.  That's just not natural - what toddler cares about dirty hands?  Only mine, but it was completely accidental.

"This place is lousy with germs," says 1-year-old Jake.

So it was no surprise when Zoe gave me yet another example of something I've inadvertently passed along.  I went through a phase a few years ago (I think we all did - though some of us remain diligent) when I paid special attention to the origin of my kids' toys, thanks to a well-publicized and widespread toy recall caused by unsafe levels of lead paint.  It would come up in conversation from time to time, but always amongst adults - it's not like I'd take a toy away from one of the kids and be all, "Now, now, Junior, don't make me repeat my two-hour Power Point presentation on the dangers of lead poisoning."  Yet still, kids pick up on these things.  Yesterday Zoe was walking along, talking to her stuffed unicorn, Snowflakeball.


She and I had been talking about how much babies like to put things in their mouths, and out of the blue she said to Snowflakeball, "If you weren't made in China, you'd be a perfect baby toy."  Oh, good.  I'm always happy to have spread a little more paranoia to the next generation.  If only I could get a fondness for tidy bedrooms subconsciously implanted along with her apparent lead phobia, I'd be getting somewhere with this whole parenting thing.

**This post is linked to the February 9th Thoughtful Thursday blog hop!

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2 comments:

  1. Tee hee ::sneaky smile:: My favorite example of that spelling thing was when a mom we shared the bus stop with a few years ago informed me that her husband had left her for a C-R-A-K-H-O-R-E. Even I didn't know what she was talking about for a minute!

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