In the past two weeks my son has started doing the weirdest thing. He sticks his chin in the air, in an exaggerated, "s'up?" sort of thing. We were so confused as to where he learned to do that. Neither J, or I greet eachother or him that way, we don't watch TV, and people at church don't do that either. We were very confused, until my parents came for a visit. They saw him do that, and listened to me explain our confusion. Then my mom said, "but you do do that, just much more subtly."At first I was still confused. "I do?" I thought, "When?" She explained that it is a gesture I make when I'm listening to someone, I nod my head and put a little more emphasis on the up swing.
I have the unsettling feeling that this will not be the last time Nils picks up something from me that I'm not even aware of. It is, at once, exciting and terrifying. There is the chance that my son will pick up my better habits (I'm sure I have at least some good ones) and the near certainty that he will copy my negative habits.
There is a chance he will pick up on my enjoyment of mathmatics, and nature. He may love soccer like I do. He might pick up the style of banter and joking that I enjoy. At the same time he may pick up on my irrational fear of cockroaches. He may copy my way of subconciously scowling when something bothers me. He'll probably pick on my habit of letting the clothes sit in the dryer until they're wrinkled.
Suddenly the urgency I feel to be a better person is overwhelming. I find myself wondering "If I don't pray often enough, will Nils still learn to pray when he needs help?" I'm aware that this may be the fastest way to drive myself mad with irrational guilt, but how do I stop? The love I have for him constrains me to give him the best I can.
How would I feel if I look at him 20 years in the future and see all the bad things I showed him how to do, and feel that I failed? Can I be positive enough to ignore those bad things and focus on the good things he has done for himself? Is there a way for him to only reflect the best of me? It would feel awful to know that when your mom looks at you she only sees her own failures. How do I avoid that trap with my own son when he is destined to be at least a partial reflection of me, like a little mirror I didn't know I had.