Breaking a habit

*2006 post*

My daughter is sharp. I mean, this girl forgets nothing. Is this a common trait for four-year olds? I am continually amazed at her ability to remember details I’ve forgotten. Or simply her ability to latch onto something I once said and remind me of it.

Once upon a time we told her that bicyclists should wear helmets; that it is not safe to ride without one. As true as that piece of information is, I rue the day I ever told her that. Because every- and I do mean every- single time we see a biker, she comments on their head apparel. This is what I hear, constantly, from the back seat:

“That guy is wearing a helmet. He’s safe.”


“That girl is NOT wearing a helmet. She’s NOT safe.”


“That guy is wearing a hat. But that’s NOT safe like a helmet.”

To my great regret, her little brother has now picked up the refrain, so now we hear it from both of them. Which is all fine and good if we’re in our van. (Well, okay, not all fine and good. It can be a little tiresome. There are a LOT of bicyclists where we live.) But as you well know, four year olds have no qualms about saying anything to anyone wherever they may be. So when we’re outside, and a bicyclist passes us, my daughter will holler “He’s NOT wearing a helmet. He’s NOT safe” For all the world (and most especially, that particular bicyclist) to hear.

Another time, she heard her cousins using the expression, “Oh my gosh!” She picked it up quickly. That expression doesn’t sound pretty coming from a four-year old’s mouth, so we told her not to say it anymore. She used it only a couple more times, which resulted in very stern reprimands from her daddy and I. But I discovered quickly that her cousins were not the only ones with that habit.

One day I was on the phone, happily chatting away, and I heard my daughter gasp and saw her eyes widen. She clapped her hand over her mouth and stared at me with great alarm. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. Everything seemed fine to me. I interrupted my conversation to see what the trouble was. “Mommy, you just said a naughty thing!” I did??? “You said that thing we’re not supposed to say. Remember?” It took me a couple of minutes to realize just what it was. And then, OH. I say “oh my gosh”, too.

Well, not anymore, folks. She’s made sure of that. And if I falter, she immediately reminds me.

So I’ve smartened up considerably since realizing this about her. I decided to use her abilities in this area to my benefit.

Recently I was spending too much time on the computer. You know, “checking in really quick” throughout the day, to check email or blogs. In an effort to halt this, I told myself that I could be on the computer for only 20-30 minutes in the morning, and then TURN IT OFF until naptime, when I would then have more time after my quiet time while everyone is napping/resting. And then I would not be on it again for the remainder of the day. At least until daddy’s home. So I informed her of my plan: “Mommy has been spending too much time on the computer. I’m only going to do it for a little bit when I get out of the shower, and then NO MORE except during naptime, okay?”

Now when I even step anywhere near the computer during the day (to retrieve something from my desk, to pick up a toy next to it, to open the shades above the desk, etc) I get this shout-out: “Mommy! Remember? No computer until naptime!!!” She keeps me honest, that girl.

Well. There’s another habit of mine I would like to break. I have hesitated to tell her just yet because it’s something I say a lot, and I know I won’t hear the end of it when she finds out.

I say “you guys” a lot. I think it’s synonomous for “ya’ll” in the south. “It’s good to see you guys!” “Come on, you guys. It’s time to go!” See? Lots of occasions to say it. This habit didn’t bother me until recently.

Last week my son (two), was praying at dinnertime. He usually thanks God for each member of our family. On this particular night, rather than name each of us, he figured it was simpler to pray, Thank you, God, for this guy (he points to me), this guy (pointing to his little brother), this guy (pointing to daddy), and this guy (pointing to his big sister). Hmm. This gave us pause. I explained to him afterwards that his mommy and sister were not “guys” but then quickly pointed out to Mark that he’s likely saying that because I always refer to our children (as a unit) as “guys”.

I’m now rather concerned that my children might walk up to an elderly couple at church and say, “How are you guys?” I’d be mortified.

So I’d better tell her I mean to stop saying it. Soon. In a matter of weeks I should be free of the habit.

1 comment:

  1. Sep. 13, 2006 - Untitled Comment
    Posted by kevmem
    Oh, that is a good one. Thanks for the good hearty laugh this a.m. ( And I'm only on the computer for a little bit, you guys, ok? I'm just checking my email....)

    My girls remind me of things ALL THE TIME. I think the moment you become a mom, your brain cells start to diminish and the synapses are much slower. Therefore, they ARE smarter by the fact that they are newer and fresher! The are quicker, sharper and we moms have to learn to accept this!


    Sep. 13, 2006 - Untitled Comment
    Posted by jengresak
    ROFL!!! Whoo - that was funny : ) That's one of the things I love most about kids. When you are a little old lady, I bet you will smile with rememberance every time you see a biker with no helmet : ) Have a great day!


    Sep. 13, 2006 - Untitled Comment
    Posted by Anonymous
    My son is like this too- it's good to have an extra brain around, one that's so sharp!
    I think saying 'you guys' is a northwest thing. I do it too, although Peregrine hasn't picked it up yet. I was in a TESOl course and when I did my practice teaching the instructor, who was Australian, pointed out how I referred to my students as 'you guys'. Oops. I've been a bit more aware of it since then but I think I still say it way too much.
    You guys have a good day now, okay!


    Sep. 13, 2006 - KIDS!
    Posted by Anonymous
    My kids are JUST the same.

    My four year old is my extra brain! He reminds me of everything! The other day I was relaying a conversation the kids and I had in the van to my hubby but couldn't remember how we even began it - four year old son piped in, "remember, Mommy, you were telling us . . . " It had been several days!

    My three year old daughter likes to tell everyone and I mean EVERYONE, "We don't say, oh my gosh!"

    And the "guys" thing - my kids like to get my husband and my attention by saying, "Excuse me, guys." It's a habit we're trying to break as well!

    This post had me in stiches!


    Sep. 13, 2006 - Laughter is good medicine….
    Posted by Sarah
    And this post had me in stitches!! Bicycle helmets are to your family what cigarette smoking is to our family…..Carlos points out EVERY person he sees smoking VERY loudly….and I just want to hide under the nearest rock!!

    Thanks for the good chuckle!


    Sep. 13, 2006 - Untitled Comment
    Posted by CountryMomof4
    Hi Stacy,
    Your 4 year old daughter sounds just like my 4 year old son.... he's always letting me know when I break my own rules, which I often do. The computer thing is huge, and if I'm on the thing for more than a few minutes, they "tell daddy". Not that my hubby cares (as long as he's fed and has clean underware). Still, condemnation comes... or should I say conviction. Most of my computer time is while kids are eating breakfast or after EVERYONE goes to bed.
    I enjoyed your circus comment. Sorry your experience was as bad as mine. ~K


    Sep. 13, 2006 - My kids...
    Posted by Melkhi
    do the same for me sometimes. A few year's ago, my daughter's swim instructor liberally used the word "awesome". I pointed out to my kids that in the past, that word was only used in reference to God, but that people in recent times have misused the word and cheapened it with overuse. My daughter has caught me misusing it several times. I appreciate her external check on my tongue.

    I enjoy your thoughtful blog!


    Sep. 13, 2006 - Very Funny!
    Posted by AussieinAmerica
    This is hilarious! Sometimes I regret telling my daughter things - she doesn't forget either. And also says them at the most embarrassing moments!
    I guess I'd better try to use it to my advantage - good idea!


    Sep. 14, 2006 - This is great...
    Posted by Mark
    You are so smart to use our dear diligent daughter to help you in this way. You are also really good at writing these blog entries. I'm so impressed that you take bits of our lives and share them in ways that are entertaining, encouraging and very well written. I'm proud of your blog.

    - Mark


    Sep. 14, 2006 - Untitled Comment
    Posted by lindafay
    Stacy, thanks for always being so encouraging over at my blog. I love your passion for your family. It would have been nice to live next door to you when my kiddies were young. Amy has a special friend in you.


    Sep. 14, 2006 - Same at our house!
    Posted by momco3
    My son (then 3) picked up my saying, "Do you understand?" (mostly when I wanted to be sure he understood the rule.) Then, for about a year, every time he told me something, he said, "Do you understand, Mommy?" And to his grandparents, "Do you understand, Papa?" Oy, I had to break him of that one, quick!


    Sep. 14, 2006 - Funny!
    Posted by Joni
    My son told me just yesterday when he noticed "Judge Judy" on tv, "Remember, Mama, we don't watch that mean lady." They definitely put us in our place, don't they?!? On a very important note, I don't regularly watch "Judge Judy". She just happens to come on before the local news. Just had to clarify! =)


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