The truest reflection of who we are is not held in a mirror but rather in our child’s eyes. They see clearly and vividly what we cannot in a moment’s glance into the glass. They see our emotions, our strengths, our weaknesses, and even those things we try—unsuccessfully—to hide.

Children, in many ways, are like hidden security cameras recording our actions and behavior. And it’s only when we are forced to watch the footage that we truly see ourselves—our flaws, foibles, and failings.

And children with their impeccable timing always choose the most unfortunate moment to unveil what we often believe we’ve kept hidden, such as publicly repeating the curse word we thought we mumbled under our breath.

As parents, we know that children imitate adults and, therefore, learn best by example. However, just like the previously mentioned hidden camera, we don’t always remember that we are being taped. It isn’t until we view the highlight reel that we remember our children are always making mental note of everything we say and do even the things we wish they hadn’t noticed.

I recently caught an unflattering angle of myself in my son’s lens.

My youngest son’s favorite game is to pretend. He doesn’t roar like a dinosaur or crawl around like a cat; instead his favorite imaginary game is to be an “adult.” Interactions and conversations with his teachers, his brother, his dad, and me are all repeated though his five-year old interpretation, which is uncannily—and sometimes embarrassingly—accurate.

I usually enjoy lovingly listening to him play out his day like a well-directed film except for the times when I’m not particularly proud of the role in which I am cast.

The other day while fixing my little guy a snack, I heard him say to his stuffed bear, “No, Teddy. I am NOT going to read the whole story. I’m tired. You go to sleep.” Ouch. Well, it was a rough week I rationalized then craned my neck to hear more. “I told you a hundred times. You DON’T listen.” Ugh. Of course, he doesn’t always listen I told myself.

This mom’s confession: He was right and I felt awful.

I have heard my son sharply reprimand and harshly lecture his little stuffed animals. Cringing, I’ve heard my words and silently cursed my impatience and my frustration as I’ve whispered to myself, “I said that?”

I’m sure that I have, just like many mothers, said a word or used a tone I regretted, especially after hearing my little one repeat it.

What have I learned after looking into the mirror of my child’s eyes? I learned that I don’t always like what I see. I also learned, however, that I can choose to play any part in my child’s mental movie.

So, I try to spend my days auditioning for the part of a more patient, more understanding mom who chooses her words more wisely and remembers that every action counts even the subtle ones.

My goal is—instead of cringing when my little guy rolls the high light reel—to grab a bowl of popcorn and enjoy the show!

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