Have you ever wondered what your children would write if they wrote a book about you? Would it be Dreams from My Father, or more like Mommie, Dearest? I think my children would make a picture book and call it Momma Said. I have recently discovered a few of the things that I inadvertently taught my children. For instance, I taught my oldest child that if you are going to lie it has to be believable. She had drawn all over a wall in our house and tried to blame it on her 2-year-old sister. I told her that if she wanted to blame someone else for something she had done, she should not sign her name next time.
I also taught them to keep secrets. I would sometimes spend more that I had intended on a shopping trip and then (jokingly, I thought) say to my children, “Shh! Don’t tell Daddy.” My daughter remembers hearing this on many occasions. What she apparently didn’t know was that I always went home and told Daddy. He paid most of the bills, anyway. How was I going to hide anything? Of course, when I really meant “Don’t tell Daddy,” because it was a gift for him, one of the kids always blurted it out as soon as they saw him.
I taught my children how to project their voices. Children instinctively know how to yell, but with indoor voices you need a different technique. (mom, mom, Mom, MOM, MOM!) This has come in handy in their chosen pursuits: one is active in theater; one is a teacher; and the third plays an ogre or a dwarf in live action role playing.
I also taught them, with varying levels of success, how to read, count and be good neighbors. OK, I actually turned on Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood so I could pick up the house and cook dinner. I needed that hour and a half and those shows were the perfect combination. Sesame Street got them excited and singing and dancing with short segments and commercials from the letters and numbers, the Mr. Rogers came in and put on his sweater and sneakers and calmed them down with his gentle words. My second child actually did teach herself to read from watching Sesame Street. She asked when she would be able to read and I said, you already can. She knew her letter sounds, so I gave her a few simple books and showed her how to sound out a word or two. She took it from there. Sometimes I got one right.
If you are worried that you are teaching your children similar lessons, I want to assure you that my now grown children are wonderful people. If you are still worried, ACPL has plenty of books on parenting.