Every now and then, my soon-to-be 4 year old daughter, Sweet Pea, lets loose with an “Oy…Jesus.” She has never been to church and to my knowledge has no friends named Jesus, so it’s pretty safe to assume she heard it from me.
I say it. I think I might even say it a lot. My mom said it when I was growing up so I probably picked it up from her. I certainly don’t say it with any trace of ill will or offense, I actually say it with loss.
Jesus used to be on our team, the Jew Team. I’m not entirely sure why he left. It seemed like he had a good thing going with us, but I wasn’t there so I can’t speak with any definitiveness. I guess eight days of presents and potato latkes weren’t enough to keep him. Good for him for starting his own thing. That shows motivation and initiative. Plus, it’s proven to be a pretty successful endeavor. Sometimes I feel the need to call out to him though, and I guess I do it fairly often because Sweet Pea, my soon-to-be 4 year old, did it today.
Our kids are watching us. It’s like being in a reality show, but without the cameras and diet pill endorsements. If you weren’t one of the cool kids when you were growing up, now is your chance because you’ve got your very own built-in captive audience of followers. I don’t know how long it’s going to last, because I don’t know how cool you are, but you’ve got them for at least a little while so during that time, it’s a good idea to try and do the right thing.
It starts with us. That is not to say that waving a cigarette while running around your house yelling and popping pills is not a good idea–it’s a great idea– just not in front of the kids. Watch and learn, practice what you preach, monkey see, monkey do… you‘ve heard them all before; they’ve been around forever–and they’ve been around forever for a reason: they’re true. As parents we need to use discretion because our kids pick up on everything. We are their leaders and while they’re young and impressionable, they’re going to follow our lead whether we’re channeling Rosa Parks or Genghis Khan.
It’s impossible as parents to always set good examples so there will, inevitably, be times when our kids see and hear us do questionable things. I like to try and keep everything balanced. For instance, I say “I love you” and “Please” and “Thank you” and “I’m sorry” to my girls as much as possible, not only because I want them to say those things to me, but also because it helps to maintain the balance in our house when they find themselves on the receiving end of “UGH. You’re killing me and I’m beyond done with you.”
We can only do our best, and though we may slip up at times, we need to be conscious of where our words are landing. So the next time your neighbor, Trampy McTramp, pops in wearing ALDO shoes that are two inches too high and a Bebe top that is too sizes too small, remember that although there may not be any cameras rolling–you are being watched, so before you shred her ensemble upon departure, remember that your kid may decide at the wrong time that it‘s a good time to repeat your words. And when she does, you can blame it on TV or the kids at school, but we both know there is a good chance she heard it at home–and I will be right there with you as you close your eyes, let out a big sigh and quietly say: “Oy…Jesus.”