Monday, July 9, 2012

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

Sean: *keeps kicking the soccer-size bouncy ball until it flies over the gate from the kitchen back into the living room* I'm setting such a great example for the kids.
Becca: Well, at least they can't see you too well from where they are sitting in the dining room.
Sean: Normally when I kick the ball back into the living room, all four of them are standing at the gate, and I just kick it over their heads.
Becca: Sean! Is this what you did all week while I was gone at the fireworks tent?!?!
Sean: Not all the time. We did other stuff too. Like watch cartoons, change diapers, take naps, and eat lunch.

Thanks, Honey, for teaching them all about kicking balls in the house. Now I'm wondering when I am going to see them start kicking balls back over the gate!

I've been told by parents with much more experience that children become little mirrors of the people raising them. These days it seems I'm discovering that they understand and process a bit more than I'd like to give them credit for.

But at 16 months old, how much can they possibly understand?

Apparently quite a bit more than I wish they did.

With the hours and hours and hours of bottle feeding that we've done, we've had a lot of TV time. We got rid of cable to save money while I was pregnant, but we did get a Roku so that we could stream Hulu (during TV season) and Netflix (during the summer). The great thing about having a Roku is that we could run shows...even at 2am feedings!...without waiting for reruns to air.

Because of that, we could watch shows like Grimm, a really interesting TV show about how fairy tale creatures blend into the real world of humans. It's a bit dark with most of the creatures being more monster-like than happy animal-like. While it's not a scary show for big kids and adults, it could understandably be a little disturbing for children.

But I really thought that they were too young to be seeing or understanding the show.

A few months ago, Elijah starting waking up in the middle of the night screaming. It wasn't connected to being sick, having a poopy diaper, or teething, so I started to wonder if maybe the TV shows were scaring him.

At only about a year old though, it seemed like a bit of a stretch.

I talked to a couple of other moms and one or two suggested that it might be night terrors. From what I understand, night terrors are generally unrelated to anything in particular and are just a phase that a lot of kids, especially boys, go through.

But his night terrors seemed to only occur on nights that we watched Grimm or something with monsters or violence (keep in mind that I'm scared easily so these are what I consider pretty tame shows).

Finally, a few weeks ago, Sean and I decided to stop watching our TV shows when the kids were awake. I feel like maybe we were a bit slow to figure out that they were seeing and at least understanding enough to be frightened by it. They are definitely too young for these shows if they are actually comprehending them! Yikes!

The Grimm/night terror episodes have also made me reevaluate other parts of our lives. I'm now painfully aware of some of the words I use. While they don't talk yet, if they are watching Grimm, then surely they are listening to everything I say.

Which I guess means that my behavior and the tone that I use when speaking with Sean are on display too.

It seems "baby-proofing" the house has now extended to the people and activities inside the house as well. I don't want my four little babies...who are growing up so get scared, use words I'd rather they not, or display attitudes and behaviors that are not kind to each other or respectful us.

With four little mirrors watching our every move, it seems that every part of our lives is now under scrutiny. Better to do it now, rather than when we find ourselves needing to retrain our kids!



  1. Ahhh, just when you thought this parenting thing was about to get easier ;) Learning to say "yes" and "no", and use them in the correct context, has started us thinking about the same things as well. What are we going to do with these little copy cats? :)

  2. Michelle - New ZealandJuly 9, 2012 at 10:05 PM

    Oh yes they pick up on things very quickly, clever wee things! I am constantly telling my brother that 'little ears are listening' when my niece and nephew are around.

    It's refreshing to hear you are taking this approach, too often I hear children with shocking language that must come from their home environment.

    You two are doing a great job :)

  3. I like your post and the title is so fitting. It is amazing what they pick up on. Our kids are just starting to communicate a bit more and it is surprising what they know.
    I have asked them where a sibling's lost shoe is and they will walk over and point to the shoe over the baby gate. When I have been doing monologues for so long and it is not clear what they are understanding, it is wonderful and scary when they respond back and let me know that little ears are listening. Thank you for sharing this on Multiples Monday on Capri + 3. Have a great week.

    : 0 ) Theresa


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