We all know to watch what we say around our kids – no “bad” words or anything that adults obviously don’t want their kids repeating in public. But, what about the things we say that are not “bad” but just part of life. Sometimes my son makes me really aware of what I say or do on a regular basis. Yesterday Will announced that his back was hurting really bad today, so he needed to sit down. Then he said, “Well, Mommy, your back doesn't hurt today?” The huge question mark was in his tone. It really made me think – kids are so aware. I did not realize that I mention my back so much, or maybe I don’t say it so often, but I am sure my discomfort shows. He is concerned, and I get that, but I hate that our four year-old is worried about my back. I wonder, how honest should I be with Will? My first instinct is to protect him from dealing with health problems; however, I don’t think it is wise to pretend that nothing is wrong because when the time comes, as it will, that I can’t act like nothing is wrong, it will be a shock: Oh, Mommy is sick. Sometimes, really sick. Still, I don’t want him to worry all the time about my “inside booboo”.
So I started thinking about what other telling things Will says. This is practical because he is in the phase of processing his day out loud at bedtime. If we really want to know what is going on with him, the secret is to go through our regular bedtime routine: bath, brush teeth, story, goodnight, and then step outside his door and listen. Heck, sometimes he talks or sings so loud it echoes throughout the house, so no sneaking necessary.
During the Day Quotes:
“I really need you to get up off that hard floor, it will hurt your back.” – When I sit on the bathroom floor while he takes a bath.
“Well, I am going to eat so I can grow – I’m biggering and biggering and biggering” – this one comes with his hands thrown up in the air as he demonstrates his growth. Bless his heart – he is the smallest kid in his class and is really focused on getting taller. Also, thanks to Dr. Seuss, he does think “biggering” is a word J
“No, I told you…” – Yes, I do say this a lot and am working on rephrasing my directions. Clearly, he should not be saying this to me though. We are raising a very opinionated child and have had to work really hard on discipline – which is admittedly exhausting.
During his bedtime self-talks we typically hear about what he did with his friends at school or sometimes he makes up wild stories about volcanoes and rescuing his friend, Piper. I think this comes directly from nightly story time with Dad. My husband is a creative writer and fantastic storyteller. Will provides the characters (typically Thomas, Percy, some other typical preschool characters) and a bit of a plot then amazingly enough, Rob cranks out some fantastic adventure. Will is clearly practicing on his own.
The other option, which seems to be the loudest of them all, is his newly found singing voice. He goes to choir at school but never really made a go of it until now. Last night he was literally scream-singing, “Go, tell it over the mountain…” for about five minutes and then switched to the classic “ABCDEFG….”, next came “You are my sunshine…”, and then off to sleep. Honestly, it is sweet.
So, all of this is to say, kids are little parrots – they not only repeat what they learn but also pick up on when is not directly taught or said to them. With this, I think finding a middle ground so there is not some mystery about mom not feeling well some days or a daily code-red is best. As Will gets older, he will understand more, but I never want him to feel scared about me being sick. I love him too much for that. I also love him too much to flat-out lie, so because I am a teacher, I will use what I do know – the gradual building of knowledge; the scaffolding of understanding. The older he gets, the more I will tell him. For now, we will stick to my back hurts sometimes but I am trying to get better – and I am.