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The Day You Realize They're Paying Attention


HJ NOT eating her broccoli

HJ NOT eating her broccoli by Megan Spreer

It’s not the proudest day in a parent’s life. It’s also not one of the ones that make you want to call up Grandma and Grandpa to share. But it’s a day that happens to the best of us and is what keeps us humble when we think we have this parenting thing down.

I’m talking about the day you realize your child is paying waaay more attention to what’s going on around them than you thought. This can come in many forms (from stories I’ve heard) and each parent’s realization can be quite different.

Lucky for the not-so-observant folks at my house, our realization was as subtle as a Mack truck.

Aaron and I have struggled with the transition of shifting our conversations and television entertainment to more toddler-appropriate topics. After spending the last two years with a tiny person who couldn’t speak or understand most sentences, it’s hard to change your habits. I mean, her attention span is so short, is she REALLY paying that much attention?

OH yes. She is.

The other day we were having dinner. It was just a typical evening at our house. I set down HJ’s plate of food and her sippy cup of milk. As I was walking away, I heard a thud (obviously her milk tipping over) and her tiny voice say:

“Ahhh, damn it.”

If a tiny, two-year-old voice saying that phrase in correct context doesn’t move you to side-splitting, laughing tears, I just don’t even know how to relate to you. It was the funniest, most horrible thing to ever come out of my toddler’s mouth. And because I couldn’t laugh about it in front of her, it made it that much more hilarious.

So of course, I did what every responsible parent would do in that situation: I left the room with my shoulders shaking violently and tears rolling down my face as I tried to stifle my giggles.

She continued to go about her dinner as if nothing happened.

Once the humor subsided, the dread set in. We chose not to acknowledge what she said because she’s very much at a stage where she does many undesirable things solely for the attention. I totally stressed out that she’d be THAT kid at the next play date though. I didn’t say such things until I was in third grade and in the safety of the unsupervised part of the playground at recess! How will this child turn out if she’s saying it at two? TWO?!

We totally failed. This is what everyone was talking about when they warned us about them being tiny sponges.

Thankfully, our tactic of ignoring it has so far worked and since the incident, she’s never said it again. We’ve shifted our adult conversation to more kid-friendly vocabulary and are better at waiting to watch our TV shows after bedtime. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

But... is it bad that I’m kind of proud she used the word in the correct context, at least?


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