When I read to my kids I LOVE to make each character sound different by giving them a New York, Western twang, South of the Border or some other fun accent from who knows where, which the kids love. And so when I hear my daughter read her books out loud to Roman in her pretend British accent I melt and have a moment….but that sweet, tender moment is always ruined with my screwy paranoia of, “Yup. I knew it. My child is developing Foreign Accent Syndrome!!” I worry all too often that because of my actions my kids are going to either be scarred for life, traumatized beyond repair or develop some insanely obscure disorder due to something I’ve done; and having the compulsion to talk in an accent is one that I will absolutely blame myself for since I started the whole thing.
Another example was when I was trying to get my daughter to stop picking her nose a couple of years ago. I tried EVERYTHING short of taping her nostrils shut. I went so far as telling her there was a snail that lived up there and would bite her finger if it went too far (courtesy of Shel Silverstein’s poem ‘The Sharp Toothed Snail.”)
“Inside everybody’s nose
There lives a sharp-toothed snail.
So if you stick your finger in,
He may bite off your nail.
Stick it farther up inside,
And he may bite your ring off.
Stick it all the way, and he
May bite the whole darn thing off”
Harsh, right?!? Although, I think she was smart enough to realize I was not telling the truth. That will be another issue we deal with when my son also realizes that “You need to wash your hands or you might get diarrhea,” and “You’ll start to shrink if you drink soda,” aren’t COMPLETELY true, either…but man does it work for them now. Before I was a parent and I saw a kid pick, pick, picking away I knew, “My kids would NEVER do that.” That actually became my mantra at 19 and 20 when I worked at a child care center thinking I knew what it was like to be a parent. I judged them. I was an idiot. Karma has a funny way of setting things straight though because when she was 3 and 4 her finger practically LIVED in her brain and I was at a loss. The more I bugged her about picking her nose, the more I worried about what she could do instead like develop Trichotillomania where one has the impulse to pull their own hair out. So I’ve let up quite a bit due to the debate in my head of nose picking vs. hair pulling? hair pulling or nose picking? I’m pretty sure I’d rather her pick her nose as long as it goes in a tissue. She has grown out of the habit all on her own and thankfully I haven’t seen her pull any strands of hair out…
The first moment of possible future issues with Roman was last week when he threw a tantrum like I had never seen. It was a battle I shouldn’t have picked, but usually he is so easy to reason with and had he been acting like his usual self (he was in “rare” form…don’t you LOVE it when parents use that excuse? But that’s for another post) it wouldn’t have been a problem. But I make mistakes (rarely of course) and live and learn after the fact hoping and praying that that moment of crazy didn’t leave him traumatized forever . As we stood in a bathroom stall, I tried reasoning with him. “You’ve held your pee for 20 minutes and you need to go now so we don’t get half way through shopping and have to come back here with a cart of groceries!” With every flush of the insanely loud toilet and hand dryer that sounds more like a turbo jet taking off he would quickly cover his ears and cry; I swear the Costco bathroom around lunchtime is busier than Grand Central Station! I couldn’t believe how many people came in and out of the friggin’ bathroom while I’m in there having a moment with my 3 year old. And here he was begging me to just go and after seeing his face of despair I picked him up and took him out of Costco. Was he happy to be out of the bathroom? Probably, but you wouldn’t know it with the way he kicked and screamed the entire way to the car because he still wanted to get groceries. Personally I think it was all about those samples he wasn’t getting; kid will eat sardines if it were on display. But regardless, after we both calmed down and talked about it while lying in his bed, I couldn’t help but worry if I did damage. Is he going to avoid using a public restroom for the rest of his life? Will he have a manic freak attack every time someone uses a hand dryer or flushes a toilet? Will he remember the moment in the stall and have to pay $100 an hour to his therapist in 30 years because of it? Man I hope not.
I think guilt is a mother’s nemesis.