Monkey See, Monkey Do
I have acquired the distinction of being one of those rare moms (or perhaps the only mom) who, after seeing her precious bundle for the first time, exclaimed, “Gawd! He looks like a monkey!!” Hence, I feel the title to this piece is especially appropriate.
However, I didn’t write this piece with the object of recounting to you the sacredness and preciousness of that moment. Instead, I wanted to relate to you one of the important parenting lessons that my husband and I got during the course of these nine years of bringing up our kids. The number one epiphany that we had was that children will “do as you do.” In other words, we had better lead by example, rather than believe that a few well-chosen words of advice delivered to the offsprings will suffice!
This was first brought very firmly and soundly to us at the sight of Big A flinging one of his toys across the room in a fit of temper. The background to that episode was that my husband did have the most unfortunate habit of lobbing nearby things onto the floor when he was angry. No doubt it temporarily relieves stress and the repercussion of such an act was not felt when Big A was an infant, but the action was carefully noted by the progeny during those ‘pleasant’ toddler years.
At the next opportunity, when informed by his mater that he would not, despite his best vocal efforts, be given a piece of candy just before his lunch, he lost no time in seizing a nearby toy and throwing it with all his might. My shocked face and exclamations of dismay did not faze him in the least. In fact, he had a most annoying, smug and satisfied look on his face as to the distance he cleared. His lone explanation for such behaviour was, of course, that ‘Daddy does it!’ ‘Daddy’ was made to feel the entire, crushing wrath of Mommy after this admission and from then on, a new habit, or rather an un-habit of not throwing things when agitated, was born.
Now, to come to my own indiscretions; I had what is known as a potty-mouth. Four letter words, like H***, D***, S*** and F***, very easily slipped out of my mouth. I have a brother, as well as many male cousins, and was well-trained in these aspects. Also, I completed my formal training of vernacular insults while in college. Suffice to say, I always had a large range of words and phrases to utter to anyone who tried to cut me off in traffic.
After Big A was born, I tried to control my once-free speech. This was extremely hard and I ended up saying things like “Shii-eesh”, “Helllloo”, and “Fu–oosh”!! Despite my best efforts, one or two of those dynamites would escape me and that, obviously was once too often. The highlight of my ‘training’ was my two-year old sitting in the waiting lounge of Las Vegas airport, and on dropping his cookie onto the ground, in a very clear, penetrating voice carrying all the way into the next arriving flight, no doubt, emitting the words, “F***!!!” As much as we tried to disassociate ourselves from this apparently homeless-child-criminal, it was not to be, and we had to unceremoniously stuff his mouth with another cookie and take him to look at the aeroplanes parked in another side of the building. My potty-mouth was then forever washed with the soap of shame and humiliation.
In the case of my younger son, Little a, the younger monkey follows whatever the elder monkey does, with little attention or regard being given to the parents, so the whole scenario has continued with watching the older one’s behaviour and hissing at him to stop, lest his brother imitate him, if he does anything that would jeopardize the younger one’s social status. Still, I fully expect Little a to enter kindergarten with full knowledge of the lyrics and dance steps of Gangnam style, and a superior attitude to anyone who can’t name all the Super Mario characters.
Roshni was born and brought up in Calcutta and is now living in California. Her two rambunctious boys, Big A, age 8, and Little a, age 4, are the main subjects of her blog (http://www.bigaandlittlea.com) and she can be found tweeting away (@RoshniAaMom) in her free time (you may well ask, what free time?!)