Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Do as I say (not as I do!)

Life with my 2 year old is often fraught with harrowing moments of self recognition, when something he does shows me just how much of our own behaviour he is absorbing, seemingly without results, until it resurfaces unannounced and not always the most opportune moment. The Boy does an uncanny impression of me shrieking for OhPapa down the corridor, something between Sybil Fawlty and Fred Flinstone. He is fascinated by what we call each other, rather than what we tell him to call us. He used to call me Mama, which I loved, but he has picked up Maman from other children and seems to be sticking with that although he uses my first name when he's cross with me (!), and the next time we go back to England I'm sure he'll switch to Mum again to be cool.

It's basically terrifying to see how much he is more affected by what we do as opposed to what we say to him. It's the part I find hardest about the parenting deal, having to become a better person, to model the desired behaviour and stick to it every minute of the day. And there's just no getting around it! For example, I don't want him to think it's "ok" to sit and stare at a computer screen every spare second (my default position), so I have to try and limit my own screen time to his naptime and after he's gone to bed. I have tried to hide any (all the) junk food I eat (and the one time he found a packet of crisps in the kitchen, he came running to me and said  "Here are your treats Maman", slightly terrified - clearly he knows not to come between a Mama bear and her snacks.)  I want him to be a better version of us, I guess every parent does - but I suppose it's only a matter of time before the truth is revealed. I don't think I could fake being a musical genius or an intellectual, could I?! Imagine saying "Ok I'm off to practice the piano", tucking a musical score under your arm and shutting yourself in a room with some Chopin blaring on a secret iPod, every day. It's not tenable! The best I can do is that he sees me reading my Kindle a lot, although he's not to know my reading material is more Gina than Ford Madox, Ford.

Then there are the really shameful moments of imitating bad language or behaviour. There have been a couple of F-bombs that slipped out when were in stressful driving situations in the car, and I just know one of these is going to come back at us when we're least expecting it. There has been a nasty "shut up" incident too which I'm not looking forward to revisiting. Today he said "oh no Maman you have messy sh*t on your jumper?" I hope and pray and am going to go ahead and assume he meant shirt?? He learns from the dvds he watches too - frighteningly so. There was an unfortunate phase he went through of saying "It's not funny!" to everyone (mostly old ladies in the supermarket who were less than amused to have that barked back at their friendly "Bonjour, jeune homme". That came from Peppa Pig of all innocuous places, but then there are some I'm not even sure where they've emanated from, like a very southern American drawling "Hush your mouth"and "You're a real cute girl, Maman". Some are more welcome than others obviously!

There are times that the learned behaviour is something that you can be proud of. Whenever I thank him he always replies "you're very very welcome, Maman." And my heart melts when he calls his sister "my little darling" and is kind to her like we are. Better than a poke in the eye, as they say (and that literally is the other option in this case).

Finally though, there are the ones that you don't really know what to do with...

As he sits in the bath and puts a cup to his chest and says matter of factly,
"I'm just pumping my milk!"

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