I like to clean. A LOT.
My husband would call it an obsessive habit. I call it a hobby that gets him off the hook. It runs in my family, this need for cleanliness and all things organized. I could blame it on my mother who single handedly made vacuuming a contact sport. But she in turn would blame my grandmother who would call anything short of weekly wall washing an absolute mess of a household.
In an effort to pay homage to my OCD ancestors and drive my husband up a wall (at least they’re washed regularly, right?), I have also become a highly specific individual. Whether it’s folding the laundry or making the bed, there’s a certain way that I like it done.
And apparently, so does my toddler.
My son likes to brush his teeth. But not just with any toothpaste, all of a sudden he needs the ‘blue soap’ (toddler toothpaste that is blue). Not the white one. Not the red one. Only blue. Somewhere between learning his colors and starting preschool he has developed a wide variety of specific requests. You could say that genetic predisposition is kicking me pretty hard in the ass right now.
But I suppose it’s to be expected. They’re simply mini-versions of ourselves, right? Which leads me to take a good hard look in the spotless mirror at my own habits. When I’m not teaching him the proper way to wash his hands or nagging him to pick up his toys, am I modeling behavior that I want to see repeated? Am I patient? Generous? Loving? Kind? Am I helping him navigate this path of toddler self-discovery or am I too busy rushing him through the day so I can finally sit down?
And probably fold more laundry.
With the wash, rinse, repeat cycle that is parenting, it can be hard to see that everyday is an opportunity for them to learn. To grow. And that we are their teachers. But with our guidance, and their proclivity for specifics, they will be able to explore their individuality. To figure out what they like. Don’t like.
One ‘blue soap’ request at a time.
So, Momma. Tonight, when it’s time to brush our teeth, I’ll do my best. I’ll try to remember that this is just another lesson. That through teaching him, I am also being taught. And before he crawls into bed, after a dozen more demands have been made, I’ll give thanks for this special little boy.
And secretly pray that my daughter will turn out to be a little bit more like my husband.