While watching a recent episode of “Fixer Upper” , the girls and I watched as pro football player, Robert Griffin III, fixed up a home for Vietnam Vet Mr. Graham and his wife through a foundation he started called Family of 3 Foundation. For those of you who know me personally, or have read any of my blogs about our home renovations, you know that I the Gaines and “Fixer Upper”. Their show is the reason we pay for cable each month 😉 .
Anyway, as RGIII (Robert) was working alongside Chip to make this tiny little house something to be truly proud of, one of the little girls remarked “That’s really kind of him. Usually football players are always greedy, like having a hot tub and a gym and stuff but he’s really nice”.
I smiled and agreed with her but it struck me that these kids – they’re really watching us.
So often I find myself repeating myself (I felt like I just did it there in that statement) to our kids (and students….) and assume that they’re just not paying attention. The truth is, they are watching and listening, to the big and small stuff (maybe not to the 4th mom yell to pick up their dirty clothes and put them in the hamper for cryin’ out loud, since it’s only 1 foot away from where they dropped it on the floor!).
It sinks in. And somewhere along the way, it makes an impression.
That impression helps to shape who they ultimately become. Will they be the cranky yelling mom (God, I hope not!) or the kind and generous soul who sees someone in need and lends a hand? I pray that they are getting the good stuff from what we try to teach them, in our words and in our actions . This applies to my children AND my students. I hope they ignore the bad, human moments of frustration and anger like they do so easily to my chiding to pick up the dirty laundry.
It’s not just their parents that they’re watching, though. It’s their teachers, and family members, friends and neighbors.
They’re watching ALL of us.
They see who’s kind, and who’s not. Who’s caring, and who’s selfish. Who’s helping and who’s only in it for themselves. They see the sad person, the angry person, the tired and exhausted person. They see the smiles, the handshakes, the things done when we think no one is looking.
I fall into the trap of thinking everything has to be perfect (although I know there’s no such thing). As an introvert, I often feel guilty that my kids aren’t involved in more activities, like I’m somehow hindering them from exposure to more. We think we have to create perfect memories for them and moments for them to learn and grow from. I like doing projects with the girls and having them cook with me – other times, I hand out the Amazon Fires and tell them to go play something (that’s what they’re for after all, right? A mom break?).
I like creating the Pinterest birthday parties and not as a “look-at-me-I-rock-at-this-motherhood-thing” but because my girls like planning them with me (and because it’s a great distraction from real life sometimes – crafting can be very cathartic when life is out of control). We have fun together coming up with ideas and decorations we can make at home (translation: fo’ cheap) – although I do have to reign in Clare’s ideas sometimes – she has her mother’s grandiose vision creating skill 😉
But it’s the simple Monday night at home watching TV together that the truth of what we’ve been trying to instill in them all along is evident. It’s a peek at an opened journal by her bedside where she’s written a prayer of support for her pépère as he works tirelessly as the pastor of our church. It’s the note left in her sister’s backpack saying to have a nice day (and the response on that note that says “You, too!” with a smiley face and a heart). It’s the left behind notebook where I expected to see doodles and incomplete class notes but instead found motivational quotes and goals set himself to be a more patient person.
These unplanned, quiet, no frills moments show that hey, they’re watching and learning – the good (and the bad) – each step of the way.
Whether or not you have children of your own, know that they are watching. Not just their parents or teachers, football stars or famous singers and actors.
They’re watching ALL of us.
How we treat others, respond to others, act, dress and live all create an impression in their lives and ultimately, into their character. So let’s be kind, show compassion, lend a helping hand and speak words of love and encouragement to each other. Will we blow it at times? Sure, but when they see the good outweighing the bad, that’s what will last with them.
When a person does something nice for someone else, it should no longer be the exception to be noticed and remarked upon…but the rule. We all want this world to be a better place. Let’s leave something our children, all children, can watch and learn from.
Let’s leave a legacy of grace and love.