by humanmama on May 28, 2015

When I had Helena, who is almost nine, I immediately began brainwashing her. I think every parent should. Well, probably every parent does, in their way. I began saying “Who’s the best mommy? Who?! Who loves you?” to her as soon as I realized her little beady eyes were following me and not just staring into the ether. “Who’s got the best daddy? Who loves their doggy?” From day one (well, wait–maybe like day 90), I brainwashed her. “We’re a great family! We love you most.”

I still do it, although not in a singsong baby-talk voice. “Aren’t we lucky?” I’ll say. “Aren’t we blessed?” But more than that, with a eight-and-eleven-months-old, I now also say things of importance. “People are all acting the way they act for a reason,” I say. “If you can keep that in mind, you’ll never get road rage, or scream at the Verizon guy. You’ll remember that everyone is a person, even the most mean or irrational people, and that they all have some reason for acting the way they do.” I don’t say “…even if that reason is a mental illness” yet, but I will when she’s a teenager. “If someone cuts me off, I think, ‘wow, his wife must be giving birth in the backseat!’

I kind of hope that if I impart all these wise and incredibly useful bits of wisdom to her now, at nine, and to my other children, that they’ll all get through their lives okay. At least that they’ll get through middle school okay. It’s a tough, tough world out there. If you’re raised to believe that it’s all gonna work out in the end, you just might actually believe that at times. I use it on everything, and it’s not lies; it’s careful shaping of their little minds towards the greater good.

Her: “My eyebrows are too bushy,” she said. “I don’t like them. They’re ugly.” [Sound of mom’s heart breaking.]
Me: “Have you ever heard of Brooke Shields? She’s a SUPER famous model and actress.” [Look up Brooke Shields 1985 on Google Image search, hand her the iPhone.]
Her: “Wow. She’s really beautiful.”
Me: “Yep, super beautiful. And bushy eyebrows. More than yours. But don’t worry, maybe yours will grow in some more as you age.”
Her: “[chuckling, rolling her eyes] Mo-Om…”

Take heart, kids. It won’t be the only thing. I think you’re amazing JUST the way you are.
Of course, I will still work on brainwashing you to load and unload the dishwasher.

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