Parenting lesson # 23: Your kids learn to talk by repeating what you say.

Teaching your kids to talk is a double-edged sword.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve already been embarrassed by what Eliza has said, mostly because it’s so obvious she’s repeating something she learned from me.  Something bad.  And it only seems to be getting worse.

Luckily for me, there haven’t been any recent instances of her saying “dammit!” like she learned about a year ago.  I taught myself not to say that word.  No, now she is much more into poop.

We’re trying to train her that “poop” talk is not funny, but somehow, especially with her friends, it is the funniest word she knows.  They will sit and giggle and just say it over and over and over.  It doesn’t help that yesterday, she was playing and just kept saying, “Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap” when she couldn’t get things to go her way.  I instantly knew she must have heard me say that (apparently it is my replacement for “dammit”).  It was such an ironic moment because I keep trying to tell her not to use potty talk, but I do it obviously often enough for her to pick up the word and its proper usage (though I don’t think she knows that crap is a worse form of the word poop.  Yet.)

It’s the classic lesson of “do as I say, not as I do.”  It’s often funny to hear your kids repeat the not-so-great things you say, but it’s also scary.  It’s like every sentence you speak goes on the record and could be repeated at any moment (most likely when it would be the most mortifying).  So, now I can add “crap” to my list of no-no words.  I’m quickly running out of options.  Maybe I’ll start saying “drat” or make up a word, like, “snaggle!”  I need to come up with something before I fall on my proverbial “double-edged” sword.

Parenting lesson #19: “Because I said so” makes so much sense to me now.

It’s already started.  Not only has Eliza begun asking every question, regardless whether she knows the answer, about 7-9 times, but now she’s adding the “why.”  Here’s the most recent example from our car ride an hour ago:

Eliza: “Mommy, where ah we going?”

Me: “We’re going on an adventure to the store.”

E: “But where ah we going?”

Me: “I just told you.  We’re going to the store.”

E (after pausing two seconds): “Where ah we going, Mommy?”

Me: “We’re going to the knitting store for some yarn.”  (Perhaps she’s curious about exactly where we’re going.)

E: “Where ah we going?”

Me: “Where do you think?”

E (pause): “Where ah we going?”

Me: “I’m not going to tell you again.”

E: “Why?”

Me: “Because I already told you.”

E: “Why?”

Me: “I’m not going to talk anymore right now.”

E: “Why?”


This, I know, is going to be the story of my life from here on out.  I did this to my own parents ad nauseum.  I can recall a specific conversation my dad and I had when I was about five.

Dad: “Beanie, just eat your vegetables.”

Me: “Why?”

Dad: “Because they’re good for you.”

Me: “Why?”

Dad: “Because they have vitamins and nutrients your body needs.  Just eat them.”

Me: “Why?”

Dad: “Because God made them that way.”

Me: “Why?”

Dad: “Because I said so.”

Me: “That’s not a reason.”

The curse of genetics strikes again.  It’s fine.  I know I’m just getting a piece of my own medicine.  I always swore I would never say, “Because I said so” to my kids because it drove me nuts when my dad did it to me.  But this one’s for you, Sparky.  I get it now.  I’m just going to try to avoid using it as long as possible.  Because I know it won’t be long before Eliza responds, “That’s not a reason.”


My little know-it-all

There is so much truth in sayings like “she’s just a chip off the old block.”  Eliza’s two favorite things to say right now are, “I can do it” and “I know.”  (Right now my mom is already keeled over in hysterics because I’m pretty sure these were the first two phrases out of my mouth.)

For example, these are normal conversations we have on a daily basis.  (In fact, these all happened this morning.)

Me: “Eliza, would you like me to help you strap yourself in?”  Eliza: “No I can do it.”

Me: “You are just TOO cute.”  Eliza: “I know.”

Me: “Let’s put on your shoes.”  Eliza: “I can DO IT!”

Me: “You look so fancy with your sunglasses on.”  Eliza: “I know.”

Even though I don’t remember saying these things to my parents (perhaps in part because I was too young to have a recollection of it, and perhaps a little from what I will call “protective mental blockage”), they have told me stories about me acting the exact same way when I was a little girl.

They have also assured me throughout my life that they prayed God would give me a daughter just — like — me.  (Does EVERY parent say this?)  It appears they got their wish.  What I’m wondering is if that is so bad.  Am I best equipped to deal with a know-it-all because I myself am one?  (For example, this weekend I went to dinner with some girlfriends and the restaurant made the mistake of putting white paper over the tablecloth, inviting us to display our creativity.  What I decided to do was play tic-tac-toe, among other things.  I told my friend, Irene, after starting the first game and winning, “If you start in tic-tac-toe and lose, there’s something wrong with you.  Okay, you start this game.”)

What if our kids came out nothing like either parent?  Wouldn’t that be harder?

I imagine from knowing both of my parents’ personalities that they BOTH were guilty of saying “I know” and “I can do it” to my grandparents.  And they all survived.  So cheers to the hereditary cycle.  My “apple of my eye” certainly didn’t fall far from the tree.