“That… that… that fucking dog!”
Those are words my lovely daughter spoke at about 4 years old after seeing dog poop on the floor. How do you think she learned to say that? She was essentially copying my wife’s Holly typical reaction for seeing the same thing. That was an eye opener and my wife got the big ole stink eye from me.
Kids are terrific mimes of our words and actions. If you read a lot, and make it a priority in your house, it’s likely they’ll be more apt to do that as well. If you laze around and watch television, they’ll accept that as the norm. If you work out at home or swim laps while the kids have swim lessons they are likely to copy you or keep with an activity that they see you enjoy. I’ve been doing some personal training of a neighbor who is getting back into exercising and my 9 year old has been joining us for some of those of her own desires (I having them do mostly bodyweight movements).
If you want to see your kids do an activity, introduce them and support them, but they won’t all stick. My 7 year old beat me in chess the other day (admittedly, I suck, and barely know the names of the pieces, still referring to them as “horsey” and “castle”) but he has very little interest in doing swim team again. He is obsessed with playing a simplified version of table top RPG Dungeons and Dragons (that I recently introduced them to, but a story for anther day) but has no interest in learning how to bat or throw a football properly. Get him on a soccer field though and he’s an absolute obsessed beast with some inherent talent.
In general though, my kids are following in my wife and my footsteps. Newly minted 9 year old Birdsnest is a bookwarm, aspiring pianist, and crafter (necklaces, bracelets, duct tape wallets, is working on crocheting) and LoudBoy (7) loves video games and playing legos. These are things my wife and I do or enjoyed ourselves growing up. Both are very active, as my wife and I are.
The kids also accept their share of basic chores that we have them do (emptying dishwasher, doing their own laundry, helping water plants or garden, taking the dog out). There is no reason why kids can’t be playing a role in keeping the household tidy. Back in the day, these young ‘uns would be helping to feed calves and clean manure in the family farm, so having them clean their room, put away laundry, do the dishes, and sweep the floor is not exactly slave labor. This basic work ethic is learned, and I believe structure here should be taught sooner rather than later.
As we’re about to start school learnin’ again in a week, our kids have had a good education on other things this summer. Mostly though, this summer has been about having fun and being a kid, without the constant supervision of parents. The kids get to run around and play with sticks and play flashlight games while the parents talk smart around campfires. What a life!