Touch of spice

Leading by example

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If you want to see what you look like -- what you really look like -- don't head toward a mirror. Look at your children.

Your words, your mannerisms, your expressions are all reflected in them.

Sometimes that's a good thing.

Sometimes it's a wonderful thing.

Sometimes it's not.

Children aren't just a mixture of DNA, they're the songs you sing, the books you read, the conversations you have. They're deep sighs, secret smiles, tight stomachs and hearts that skip a beat.

And every single thing you do makes an impression in them -- a knife in cheese.

You don't believe it until you really see it.

When the babysitter's dog jumped on Katie, my little girl stiffened her lips into a snarl and said, barely above a whisper with a harsh emphasis on the first syllable "don't."

I heard myself in her voice. I heard my mother.

That's continuity.

Being like my mother is something I said I'd never do. And that I am is something I never knew until I saw my little girl's face. Heard her words.

Saw my face. Heard my words.

I hear the same thing when she says "stop it" and "I can't."

I also hear the same thing when she says

"I love you."

I watch as she sits on the floor and tries to pose cross-legged like mommy. She brings one leg over the other and the bottom one sticks out on its own. It took some practice, but she finally figured it out.

She leans back against the counter, looks at me and folds her arms across her chest, glancing back and forth from my arms to hers to make sure she's doing it just right.

When she dances, I see my moves, my rhythm in her two-year-old steps. She's wavering between copying me and copying her father there. God, I hope she picks me.

But they're always their own people. One of her dance moves -- definitely not from me -- is one where she lays down and kicks her legs into the air and then jumps up and resumes.

Then again, maybe that's something I had once when I was more energetic and flexible.

I'm sure she didn't get her penchant for hiding in a corner and writing on her stomach and arms from me.

Her moodiness? Yes.

Her ability to sleep anywhere? Yes.

Eating lotion? No.

Ability to watch the same movie over and over? Yes.

Cleaning up the dollar-sized dallop of ketchup on her plate using one french fry? No.

Katie dropped her bottle of the bed.

"Damn it Katie!" she said.

Oh my God, did she learn that from me?

There are traits you hope they pick up and some you pray they don't. And it's pretty much a draw which way it's going to go.

All you can do is hope you model behaviors you'd be proud to see them repeat.

I have some work to do.

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