There's a point in one of my daughter's Elmo videos where a cartoon lady begins her "Itsy Bitsy Spider" routine by saying "Hey kids! Just say what I say and do what I do!" These simple instructions obviously help children get the concept of following a leader. Sounds harmless enough, right?
Except when your kid starts "saying what you say", and "doing what you do"! Kirra is only 15 months but she has caught on to things that I never thought she might be paying attention to. Take pushing a stroller for instance, we sometimes let her push the big stroller for a few minutes when we go for walks. Or the way she laughs like me by putting her hand over her mouth and tilting her head back dramatically like a full fledged adult. Yesterday she stopped to put the brakes off and to put them back on again. She's been watching. Today she picked up a magazine and started "reading" it out loud to her friend Stitch. Right now, as I type this she is sweeping the kitchen floor. It amazes me the amount of absorbtion that's going on (and not just in her diaper!).
She also learned a lot of behaviors on vacation. It was such a huge blessing to us. We were able to spend ten days together as a family. We've had so much change in our lives over the past two years that we haven't had a chance just be...to breathe...to be intentional about loving each other without the hovering demands of bills, selling a home, work, laundry...I'm sure so many of us need this time away. I needed to withdraw and to disconnect. The fabulous side effect of taking a cruise vacation is that you don't have cell phone service (unless you want to shell out the big bucks when you get home), you don't have to worry about any kind of transportation (unless you get a cab during port days), and you don't have to worry about e-mails or keeping anything else up (including the cleaning and laundry). I feel so lucky to be able to have this gift.
Vacation is very much an affluent capability (even for those of us who fall in the middle) and it occurred to me that most of the world's population can barely afford to eat, let alone travel to get away. For some, there is no "getting away". As I thought about this I made a committment in my heart to find balance as a person who has all she needs, to remember the poor and the one who has no means of withdrawing, the one who suffers each day for whatever reason.
This is something I hope our daughter picks up as she mimicks our everyday life. I hope she sees more than casual magazine reading and shopping excursions. I hope she sees parents who give more than they take. As she picks up on how to brush her teeth and comb her hair I hope she picks up on what matter's most, loving each other.