Mommy lesson #55: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (or something like that)

Being a mom is a bit like being a reality TV star. I have the human equivalent of a video camera following me through my days. At first I was hyper-aware of her presence, super vigilant of everything I said and did. Then, like so many “celebrities,” I kind of forgot the camera was there (probably because all she did was eat and sleep). But now that Baby Girl is able to talk, it’s like hitting play on all that previously recorded footage. It’s adorable (and a bit frightening) how she imitates not only my words, but even my expression and intonation. Recently she’s started agreeing by saying “sure,” exactly the way I do, drawing out the U so it sounds like “shore” (I have no idea where I picked this up, but now my child has too). Her latest phrase is “What you doing Elphie?” (I think she got this one from my dad). Her other favorite word is “no,” which is kind of her default answer for everything and has me second-guessing how often I use that word.

She doesn’t just copy what I say, she also wants to do everything I do, including housework. Yesterday she insisted on helping me with the vacuuming, stating emphatically “I do it!” while kneeling down to adjust the height setting (thankfully the switch is still a bit too hard for her move). Next I caught her trying to plug the air freshener back into the wall socket. I didn’t even realize I’d left it in reach when I unplugged it (I’m convinced she’s also going through another growth spurt). When I brought out the dusting supplies she snatched the furniture polish from my hand, singing “dusting, dusting” while rubbing a rag along the carpet. She delights in helping me with the dirty laundry, insisting on picking up her clothes after we take them off each night and putting them in her clothes basket. I love her enthusiasm and helpful attitude, but I have to be careful about what I let her see me do. The other day I was outside cleaning up after the dog. I had a shovel and a plastic bag, and casually answered C’s inquiry (what you doing Mama?) with, “Oh, I’m picking up Elphie’s poop.” The next time I looked up I saw C coming at me, saying “Here go Mama” with a handful of dog poop. Ick.

Naturally her copycat behavior extends to my leisure habits too. Despite my best intentions of making my new iPhone a “no touch,” it’s one of her favorite toys. She’ll hold it to her ear, having pretend conversations (usually with Poppy or Mickey) or thrust it into my hands saying “pictures, pictures Charlotte!” (she loves looking at pictures of herself, which for some reason there are a plethora of on my phone). She’s such a little bookworm, but instead of leafing through her picture books she likes to pick up my book and turn the pages. She usually pulls out or loses my bookmark in the process (I really need to start memorizing the page number I’m on before I close it).

All this imitation is adorable and hilarious, until I do something that’s not so cute. This morning on the way to MDO another driver cut me off. I responded with a sharp “Dude, do you see me driving here?” A couple of beats later I hear “Dude!” echo back at me from the backseat, making me oh so thankful I didn’t go for my default insult, “idiot.” Still, was a forceful reminder that my child is always watching me, that my words will become her words, my habits her habits, my attitudes reflected in hers. Yikes. Moms have way too much power, and like Spiderman I’m weighed down by the responsibility that comes with it. Thankfully I have an Example so much bigger than me that I can look to for help with shaping my behavior. I have a much more complete understanding of Eph. 5:1-2 now. “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” That has become my prayer, that my life would more and more be a reflection of Christ’s. Having my own little shadow is extra motivation.
What funny (or horrifying) things do your kids copy from you?

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