The other day I was in the van with the kids and we were pulling out of our street when there was an elderly woman walking her dogs along the road. We live in the country and the roads are small so I slowed in order to allow her to get into the grass before I passed on by. She got to safety and turned around when I waved and smiled at her before moving on past to go about my business. That’s when, from the backseat, Logan asked, “Mom did you know her?” To which I replied, “No.”
“Then why did you wave at her?”
“Because it’s a kind thing to do and you should always be friendly to others. Even when you don’t know them or may not ever see them again. You only have one chance to make a first impression and should always leave people feeling good.”
“Oh. okay Mom.”
Fast forward to a week later. I have just picked up Logan from student council when he tells me that while they were out picking up trash around the campus, he waved at an elderly gentlemen walking his dog. He said, “Well he didn’t wave back but I don’t think he saw me. Guess he missed out on me being nice but I tried to make him feel good.”
It was in that moment that my big ole heart swelled with pride. I realized that through a conversation, that I had completely forgot had even taken place, my son learned a really big lesson and even applied it to his life. As parents we so often forget how much our kids are listening and watching our every single move. It’s overwhelming to think about so we usually don’t. However, everything they are doing and saying they are learning from somewhere and MOST of it is from us.
For me I feel like there are always “teaching moments” that come up with the kids. Something happens and it allows a time to teach a lesson, good or bad. It’s all the times in between that I forget are also teaching moments. Every second we spend with them (and even sometimes we aren’t together) they are learning something. Learning how to react to situations, learning how to speak kindly or not so kindly, seeing how we handle stress, seeing how we treat strangers, observing how we treat our bodies and our minds, observing our daily habits and routines, observing our work ethic and so forth. These things that we often forget about are HUGE in our children’s lives. They shape them in so many ways. Many of us our mortified when our kids develop attitudes or start to argue. Then you’ll have that evening when they say something and your mind almost explodes because, “Holy Crap this kid is just like me and he totally said something I ALWAYS SAY!!!” Yikes.
Most of the time when I am reminded just how much my kids are picking up on my daily stuff I am in a state of horror because I am re-playing all the times in their life I probably wasn’t the best example or the most upstanding citizen. I then start to think I have ruined them forever and ever. However, it’s precious moments like this…when your son tells you he waved at a stranger.. that you realize you’ve shown them SOOOO many wonderful things too. You’ve exemplified what it is to be human in order to build better humans. You’ve shown them how to love, even on the stressful days and how to take care of yourself, even on the hard days.
Parenting is so freaking hard ALL THE TIME but ya know what…just being a good person and leading by example is 90% of the battle in my opinion. You’ll see a little bit of yourself in all of your kids. The good and the bad but someday you’ll see them all grown up, with families of their own, and realize they really did pick up on all that good you never even realized you were showing. And that, friends is how the world becomes a better place. Job well done!