Monday, March 11, 2013

You Are Being Watched

We were in a fast food place the other day. I was pouring a cup of diet Coke from the fountain. I didn't even think about it, because I had done it so many times. Place the cup under the ice dispenser, get ice, put the cup under the Diet Coke spigot, push the button, fill the cup up near the top. Wait for the bubbles to disperse. Fill it up again, and wait again, and then fill it to the top.

That's just how you do it.

And then I realized I was being watched by a pair of seven-year-old eyes.

It's a humbling thing, seeing your child watching you. I wish I had been doing something really cool, like recoding a website or dismantling a carburetor. Or cooking the perfect omelette. But instead, I was just pouring a cup of soda. And my kid was watching me to see how to do it.

It must happen all the time. All the things I do all day that I don't even think about, and he just studies me like a walking textbook. Pouring cereal. Tying my shoes. Making coffee. Shaving my face. So many things.

I remember doing it myself, of course. I have clear vivid memories of watching my dad as he did the simplest things, things he hadn't even realized were things, if you see my point. Things like parallel parking. Like throwing a football in an effortless spiral. Like ordering food in a restaurant. And I watched him, because that's how you learn how the world works. You watch your parents. And the way they do things is the way that it's done.

Is that a little scary, parents and parents-to-be? Good. Because you need to keep it in mind. You are being watched all the time. Whatever you're doing - good, bad, lazy, admirable - your children have their eyes on you. Make yourself someone worth watching.

Photo from flickr user @ANDYwithCAMERA. Used under Creative Commons license.

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