April 16, 2020  |  Written By Elizabeth Marks

As a parent of 5-year-old girls, I have become acutely aware of the fact that they watch everything that I
do. When Madeline was 2 years old, she began to put my cousin Kristen’s hair in a ponytail. I watched
Madeline brush Kristen’s hair and while she was brushing, she had a ponytail holder between her teeth,
waiting until she had it thoroughly brushed. She put the brush down and removed the ponytail holder
from its safe spot and attempted to put it to use. She failed to execute, but all the motions were exactly
as I would have done! What amazes me about this is that I had no idea I was being watched by Madeline
while I was doing her twin sister’s hair in the mornings. But I was being watched…very closely.

So- this is a scary concept…I’m not known for my clean mouth and at times ride a bit of an emotional
rollercoaster. I have become more and more aware of my words and behavior as the years continue to
fly by with my children. Trying to minimize my ‘potty mouth’ where I can when the kids are around
(then, and only then)…I also try to dial down emotional responses to situations. Looking at things a little
more clearly and trying to rationalize myself through things rather than emotionalizing my way through.
I have lots of work to do people- Lots!

Besides my everyday at-home behavior- I also looked at some of the little things I do when I’m out and
about. I began to notice myself at social functions, at grocery stores, in hallways, preschool drop-offs,
etc. always being the last one to respond to conversation rather than start it. Let me set the scene….

Me: (gets up from desk at work to walk to the restroom)
Hallway Lady: (walking towards me on her way to the same restroom)
Me: *silence while making eye contact with Hallway Lady*
Hallway Lady: Hi!
Me: Hi!

Simple interaction? Yes! Why did I wait to be the friendly one? Am I rude?!? I just might be! I am an
outwardly social person- but, also, if I’m in a ‘mood’ or in a hurry or something to that effect I definitely
find myself being that person. The responder rather than the initiator.

What am I teaching my kids here? Mind your own business unless you’re spoken to? Think about
yourself and not how others in the world (or even your physical space) are doing? Not cool…

Time for action! I hereby challenge myself to be the first! Be the first to say ‘hi’! I need to be setting an
example for my children – showing them that in a world where we can be anything…be kind. Hopefully,
it will be contagious- not just to my girls but to others who are also watching.

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