Not too long ago, I found this laying around the house:
On the left, is my to-do list. On the right, is 4 year old Elizabeth's to-do list. Cute, isn't it? I thought so anyhow.
Later that same week, I found these. On the left is a drawing that 9 year old Michelle did, on the left is 4 year old Elizabeth's copy. She's pretty good for 4, isn't she? Maybe I'm biased, I am her mother after all. J
Now, I don't share these just because they are cute, even though they are. Finding both of these things within a few days of each other was a reminder to me that these little ones in my care are imitators. They are watching, and they will imitate what they see around them. I've been chewing on the implications of that ever since.
Some of those implications are educational. The theme of the Circe Conference this past summer was "A Contemplation of Imitation". I've been slowly listening my way through the audio recordings of that conference over the past few months, so this theme has been running through my mind anyhow. I also really liked Jennifer's article on narration over at Expanding Wisdom – one of the points she makes is that narration is a form of imitation. What are we holding before our children for them to 'imitate'? Are we using books and materials that show them the good, the true, and the beautiful? It's worth thinking about.
I think perhaps the most profound reflection I've had on this topic over the last few weeks, however, is that these little ones are imitating ME. This isn't a new insight – I've even written about it before. But it was a much needed reminder – a very convicting one. They are imitating me. What am I showing them?
I've seen this played out in different ways in the past few weeks. The last couple of months have been busy and at times stressful for our family. There have been times that I have let that stress get the better of me and I've snapped at a child and barked orders as we've hurried out the door or tried to get everyone tucked into bed (finally!) for the night. And you know what? More often than not, that results in cranky, ornery, reluctant children. On the other hand, when I've chosen to stay calm, be patient, go with the flow and let go of my (sometimes unrealistic) expectations things have generally gone more smoothly, even under pressure. They feed off my attitude - they imitate my attitudes.
Charlotte Mason once said: "…the child's most fixed and dominant habits are those…which the child picks up for himself through the close observation of that is said and done, felt and thought, in his home." The Apostle Paul said: "Therefore, I exhort you, be imitators of me." (I Corinthians 4:16)
Lord Jesus, infuse the atmosphere of our home with peace and joy and life. Mold me and shape me into someone who, like the Apostle Paul, is worthy of imitation.