Your every move is documented, each mistake you make is immortalized and anything you say is open to interpretation. You are never alone, they are always watching, they will never forget.
Snap, snap, snap go their cameras.
They are patient, they are relentless and they are opportunists. If you so much as blink the wrong way, it will be documented. If you utter even just the first part of a swear word, they will hear you. If you instinctively act out in anger, they will shake their heads and judge you accordingly. Think otherwise if you dare, but do so at your own peril.
I’ve heard all the clichés. Children are like sponges, children see everything, children never forget. But it wasn’t until recently that a friend made the comparison of children to the paparazzi that the light bulb really went off in my head. That is exactly what they are like.
Sponges lose water just as well as they take it on, children in reality don’t see everything and look no further than the toys strewn about my backyard to know that they do in fact forget things. But the paparazzi comparison is spot on.
Like the cameras, your children aren’t exactly watching you 100% of the time (maybe 98%), but you can bet the house that they will be standing right behind you the second you slip up. They won’t remember everything you say, but somehow they will never forget that one bad word you uttered without thinking. They will mimic an action that in our world is harmless, but in theirs, a big no no.
For example, just the other night at the dinner table I was a tad frustrated with the current affairs of both children and crumpled up my napkin and threw it. Threw, tossed, whatever. The point is, it was nothing. All in all, the napkin traveled about 1 foot and came to rest innocently up against my cup of water. But innocent it was not, for about 2 seconds later the 1-year-old mimicked my action and chucked his metal fork about 5 feet across the kitchen.
The 4-year-old poses a whole different spectrum of problems. He not only will mimic my actions, but will also repeat the things I say verbatim. Sure it’s cute when he correctly uses the acronym “OMG” in context, but when he claims that something is “BS” in context, not so much.
This stuff takes some time getting used to. I think I’m being clever by changing up my verbiage so as not to sound like a trucker around my children, but in the end, all I’m really doing is saying the same exact thing in a different way. Sometimes you just have to experience this for yourself to have it really set in, but learning from these experiences is the key.
You better believe my napkin throwing days are over just as are my “clever” ways in which to disguise swear words. Yes, just in case you are counting, it pretty much took me until half way through my 30s to realize that the 20-year-old in me is no longer socially acceptable.
The good part is I’m not bothered by that in the least. A few adjustments here and there are a small price to pay for the beautiful experience of watching my two boys grow up and process the world around them. I honestly marvel how they seemingly never forget a thing and continually shake my head at how quickly they learn how to do something after seeing it once.
My boys are aggressively learning the ways of the world and I couldn’t be more proud. In fact, I’m a bit jealous of their paparazzi like ability. They are growing up so fast and are both at such great ages that I wish I was able to store a mental image of how they are right now and recall it at will any time in the future.
I guess it can’t hurt to try.
Credit for paparazzi comparison given to Twitter friend @ManvDadhood. Learn more about Joe B on his About Me page by clicking here.
This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 3/17/12.