Follow the Leader


So last week, I was in the car, heading to my parents’ house to drop off the baby. Another car cut me off and I may have sworn a tiny bit. I forgot I had an audience in the back seat.

Son#3: Shit!
Me: Oh no!
Son#3: Oh no! Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!
Me: *moment of panic* Sweetie…that’s not a nice word. You shouldn’t say it.
Son#3: Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!
Me:  Wait! Nose! Where’s your nose?
Son#3: Nose, nose, nose, nose….
Me: *whew*

The joys of toddlerhood. Turns out they’re actually paying attention. Sadly, I didn’t learn my lesson. A few days later, I was trying to get out of a parking lot but because of construction and a poorly parked truck, I was blocked in. I may have cursed just a tiny bit more.

Son #3: Uck!
Me: Nooooo!
Son #3: Uck! Uck! Uck! Uck! Uck!
Me: I don’t suppose you’re saying truck?
Son #3: Uck! Uck! Uck!
Me: *banging head on steering wheel*
Son #3: Uck! Uck! Uck!
Me: What about duck?
Son #3: Uck! Uck! Uck!
Me: Where’s your nose?
Son #3: Uck! Uck! Uck!
Me: I think Mommy has to go sit in time-out.

This story illustrates how critical it is to lead by example. Whether you have a toddler or adults that look up to you, one of the quickest and easiest ways I’ve seen to lose all credibility as a leader (and parent) is to spout the nonsense, “Do as I say, not as I do”.

A remember a few years ago, when Son #1 was in grade one, he asked for a list of bad words he wasn’t allowed to say because he didn’t want to say one by accident and get in trouble for it. So that got us talking because, as seen above,  the occasional bad word has slipped past my filters and Son #1 wanted to know why he couldn’t swear. I tried the honest approach and told him it would make me look like a bad parent.

He laughed.

Then we came to a compromise. He can’t use a bad word unless he can tell me exactly what it means, why it’s inappropriate to use the word and what effect he’s trying to create by using it in that context. I will happily do the same, if he’s interested. It turns out that he’s not that interested and would rather play video games.

I have a hunch that the same approach isn’t going to work with Son #3.  I wonder if he’ll appreciate a discourse on the finer points of microeconomics while I drive, instead?