Our Little Mimic

November 11, 2011 at 3:10 pm Leave a comment

My daughter is at a stage where she is observing and mimicking speech and actions of the people around her. This is a wonderfully dangerous time for us. Watching her learn about and interact with the world is joyous experience. However, if we are not careful things can go wrong in a hurry.


The first signs of her mini mimicry began many months ago when she started repeating the last word or last part of your sentence. The stronger the emotion the more likely it was she would repeat what you just said. This means any language beyond PG-13 is out of the question. Sometimes that’s not easy to manage, particularly when pain is involved. I found the key is to substitute another word that is innocuous enough yet still brings a some catharsis when spoken with enough force. Sometimes that word just comes to you out of the blue.

One afternoon I was repairing the side gate while my daughter was playing on her swing set. Part of the repair process involved straightening a steel plate that had been bent out of shape. I was using a hand sledge to pound the plate back to its original vertical state. On my very last blow the hammer glanced off the plate and hit me square in the shin. I dropped the hammer and hobbled into the backyard clutching my leg and doing my absolute best not to let out a powerful string of salty words. The best I could manage was to do that growling laugh that men do when they’re trying to be tough and pretend something doesn’t hurt.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and I shouted. “MONKEY!”

Immediately I heard a little voice at the other end of the yard. “Muckeeey!” I looked up and saw my daughter grinning back at me. She grabbed her leg and shouted again, “Muckeeeey!”

Having that go-to word has been very important, particularly when dealing with pain or paying bills. I was commiserating with my neighbor, a father of two young kids, about this concept. I told him my new word and he said “That’s a good one.” Then he thought for a moment and quipped, “There are a lot of monkeys at my house.”

Muckey See, Muckey Do

It’s my daughter’s actions, though, that remind me she is watching and learning from our every move.

Hop Mom is expecting our second child any day now and she has been suffering the Braxton-Hicks contraction phenomenon for several weeks. This can cause her to suddenly double over, brace herself on the nearest steady object, and breathe heavily until the contraction subsides. When this first started to occur I would suffer a mini heart attack and freeze until my wife told me everything was ok. Now I patiently wait for the contraction to subside. Ho hum.

The other night she was in the bedroom when I heard her suddenly cry out from another contraction. About thirty seconds later here comes our daughter hunched over, arms around her tummy, slowly walking through the living room making little “Oof” sounds.

Timing is Everything

Letting you child learn from observing you can be tricky. You need to not only teach her how to do something but when it’s proper to do it. For example, we live with four cats and often we need to move them out of the way to sit down on the couch or get in to bed. All it takes is one instance of our daughter witnessing us nudging a cat off the bed and soon my daughter is shoving cats off of every surface in the house. Now sometimes she’ll come storming in to our bedroom and all of the cats will immediately spring off the bed and search for a safe hiding place.

A Little Helping Hand

My daughter sincerely wants to be a part of everything we do and it’s important to include her by finding ways she can help us. Sometimes it can be frustrating because letting a kid help with a task can lengthen the time it takes to get that task done. Also, there are some things she really wants to do but we can’t let her for her own safety. Often if we explain our reasons properly she understands. Sometimes she does not and let’s us know about it.

For now I am pleased she is fully engaged in our world and learning new things from us every day. Though sometimes it can be a real test of my patience, I need to relish all of the joy and mess she creates because in about ten or twelve years she’ll likely want nothing to do with me.

Entry filed under: Being Dad. Tags: , , , , .

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