The thing we say to our children now, will impact them for the rest of their lives. Lily-Ann is five now, but one day she’ll be thirty-five and she’ll hear my words reverberate through her mind. What I say to her today will one day become her inner dialogue. It’s a scary and weighty thing.
The one thing I find myself saying, that I try to catch myself on before it slips out, is “How old are you?” in a rather shaming tone. If she’s acting like a nincompoop, using baby talk, whining, or feigning that something is just too hard (when I’ve seen her do it dozens, if not hundreds, of times before) I’ll ask her how old she is. If I catch myself after the fact? I try to goofy it up a bit by wrinkling up my nose and saying in a goofy tone “Are you two? No… you’re three. No, wait, that’s not right…” I hate the idea that my frustrated “how old are you” may one day be what she hears in her head when she feels needy or stressed.
It’s a heavy thing, knowing the small things we say or do – sometimes out of frustration or exhaustion – may one day shape our children’s inner dialogues. I do my best to fill her mind with things like “if you work hard enough, you can do anything” or “be gentle to yourself”… but I’m only human, and, well… chances are I’ll still mess her up.
Being broken is part of the human condition. But I’m doing my best to shape my daughter’s view of herself into something positive. She is strong, she is capable, she is utterly fabulous, and she is deeply and truly loved – THAT is what I want her to remember when she feels weak, when she feels tired, when she feels broken.