The Subtle Signals of a Parent
On my third birthday, after getting terrified by a gigantic mouse at Chuck E Cheese, I came home to open presents. The first gift I unwrapped was a camera. It was a fisher price one that actually used film, and I didn’t care about any other gifts after I opened that one.
The reason I was so obsessed was because my dad had a camera. I saw him use it all the time and I was fascinated by it. So fascinated that my parents got me one of my own. I still remember not understanding that film could be exposed, and ruining my first set of photos by excitedly opening the back compartment.
Fast forward to 2019. My son is obsessed with wanting to touch my phone and at first, I wondered why. Did he inherently know how magical this device was, how life changing it is for society?
Probably not. It’s more likely that his obsession is rooted in my obsession. Like me watching my dad use his camera, my actions with my phone communicate to him that this is an item that I treasure. If it scares me that he’s already so obsessed over a phone as an 11 month old, then it should scare me even more that he learned that from me.
It’s a powerful reminder that children learn by watching our cues. Parenting is, at its core, an examination of our own habits and obsessions. We must shape our own lives in the same way that we’d like to shape theirs.