Monkey was two years old and I, several months pregnant, was focused on potty-training him before his little sister arrived. His daycare had started taking him to the bathroom a few months prior, and soon after potty training started in earnest at home, I had the bi-annual parent-teacher conference. After we talked about his development and all academically-minded topics relevant to two-year-olds, I thanked them for teaching Monkey to wipe the seat. The two teachers looked at each other, and then looked at me, and said, "We didn't teach him that." I thought, "What? You are the only other people who are helping him potty train, so who could it be? He wipes the seat so neatly after every use and I never taught him, I just....Ohhhh." I was the one that had been wiping the seat during his potty training. Instead of thinking he could copy me, I assumed had to be explicitly taught to "please be neat and wipe the seat."
This wasn't a life-shattering realization of Einstein proportions, but it was the first time I realized Monkey was learning things from me that I wasn't teaching him. This meant I had to be more careful around him to not only say what I meant, but to do as I said. (I also realized I should not curse in front of him, but that came later.) I gradually noticed that the inflections he uses in his speech are very much like mine. As is the way he lists reasons he wants to do things and the manner in which he asks, "Mami, what do you want to do today?" as if I was his little charge.
I always knew that, at some point, my own kids' speech would reflect mine and all its flaws. Even thought I dodged the peeve-inducing habit of saying"Okay" at the end of every parental request, I've recently realized I say, "Right?" with a little too much frequency. Monkey started saying things such as, "We have to pick up Munchkin now, right?" or "I can have my lollipop after dinner, right Mami?" so often that I was forced to examine my speech. Of course, I was very relieved to realize my husband has the same habit. After all, there are few things that make a parent feel better than distributing the guilt. The funny thing is that Monkey has the same habit in Spanish, completing his sentences with, "Verdad?"
I realize that these verbal tics are nothing but a warm-up to the the good and bad habits my little mirrors will reflect back at me in the coming years; my temperament my fondness for cooking and my dislike of certain household tasks. I know my job as a mom is to keep Munchkin and Monkey in line, but I have a feeling they'll be keeping my behavior in check too.