As our kids were nearing their 2nd birthday, people were asking what they were into so they could get a gift our girls would like, I had to stop and think about that question?
What is my 2-year old into?
Everything, but nothing at all.
My 2-year olds don’t have many favorites, yet. And I wonder if they should? Am I doing something wrong if they don’t? But, really, I ask should they have favorites already? They may love Elmo and Wall-E and just about any animal (especially dogs and cats), but that’s only because we, as their parents, have introduced them to such things. If we never watched movies, ever, they wouldn’t like Sesame Street or Bolt. If they never saw a real-life dog or cat or we had never taken them to the zoo, they probably wouldn’t know how awesome they are, or that a lion roars. They wouldn’t like nursery rhymes if we never sang to them, or wouldn’t love dancing if we never played music. Right?
Basically, my kids will only be into things that Josh and I allow them to be into. They love cars because we’ve gone car shopping with them (what feels like) a dozen times and they loved sitting in cars and exploring them. They also love school buses because we often sing the song “Wheels on the Bus.” Alison loves her blanket because we let her sleep with it and tote it around. They love cheese because we eat a lot of cheese too.
|Playing together with things they are “into”|
I remember when I was a kid, liking just about everything my older siblings liked. I liked Weird Al Yankovich and Michael Jackson. I liked playing video games and sports. I liked drawing because my older brothers drew too.
At young ages we are strongly influenced by others, often liking or saying things they like or say because it’s what we know, as well as the example set before us.
But, of course kids don’t always love everything they are introduced to. Take pizza for example: despite Josh and my love affair with pizza, our girls have only ever eaten a little crust or maybe a pepperoni, picked off the top. They do not like pizza. (Yet.) But, they actually eat a lot of other healthy foods, and mostly healthy food because we don’t have a lot of junk food lying around our house. When we do, of course that is what they want, all the time (just like Josh and I do!).
And occasionally the girls may pick up new things from others, like pretend shooting with their sippy cups, with accompanying shooting sounds. Not sure where they picked up that one. We don’t have any toy guns and I’m pretty sure we never pretend shoot our girls. But, learn it they did!
|My twins playing “Mommy” with their dolls.|
This makes me very aware of what things we introduce our kids to, because, they very well could become their next “favorite” thing. And I don’t know if I want them favoring those things, and often feel like they have so much ahead of them to look forward to, and fear that by having favorites they will limit their future choices (think only pink clothes, only Princess wear, etc). I also don’t like the idea that I am actually helping to choose their favorites for them. Maybe, I am just turned off by the idea of favorites all together (I certainly don’t have a favorite child after all!).
As I’ve been thinking about these things, I’ve become more aware of how influential toddlers are. As the girls start parroting back more and more of what Josh and I say to them, and think things are funny because we do, we are more aware of the things we say and do.
I hope the time I’m home with them will greatly influence them for good (and not ill) as the years continue on. As I’ve said, the girls are “into” things because they’ve been exposed to them. Because of this, I hope that I can continue to expose my girls to good things, like pictures of Jesus Christ, stories from the scriptures, images of the temples, and regular church attendance. I hope someday they are into Family Home Evenings, genealogy, church activities, and saying their own prayers. For being into Christ, and having Christ as your favorite, doesn’t seem to bother me, unlike making Dora the Explorer your favorite does. Because these are the things that are most important for them to learn and be “into.”
I think too often parents don’t give enough credit to their child’s ability to absorb their surroundings because “they are too young to remember it,” or that “they are just a kid” and “don’t understand anything.” But, that thinking is so false. Kids pick up on emotional atmospheres and though they may not understand everything going on around them, they are aware of how you treat them, and show them love, as well as how you treat other people and what you do with your time. Kids try to emulate their parents, so I hope that Josh and I are worth emulating. We fail often, but we keep repenting and trying harder to be more patient and loving. We keep trying to be great parents by being great people. It’s hard work, but we think it will prove invaluable in the end.