It escaped my lips twice that day. The doorbell rang while the boy was napping. It looked like the girl had smeared peanut butter on the couch. I swore. The word snuck out before I remembered, but then I shrugged it off, convinced that she hadn't heard. That she didn't understand.
Sitting at the kitchen table together I stirred the play dough while she dropped in the food colouring. Drop, drop, drop. That's enough I said. No she said. As we argued drops of blue food colouring hit the chair and the floor. I grumbled while I cleaned it up.
Shit she said.
What did you say? I said, surprised but also amused to hear that word spoken in such a little voice. And in the appropriate context.
Shit she said again.
What does that mean? I asked as I wipe the floor clean. Bending down she couldn't see me trying not to laugh.
I told her something like that's not a word we should use, hypocrite that I am. The we went back to our play dough.
I was reminded that she does listen to me. Even when I don't want her to.
The words may float in one ear and out the other, but she still remembers them. She is listening. She is watching me.
The boy sat down next to me on the edge of the wading pool. He took off his blue Crocs and then wandered away after a ball. Put your shoes on I called after him. That is one of my park rules. At the park we wear our shoes or we go home.
I'll get him the girl said to me. She picked up the shoes and walked over to where he was squatting next to some leaves.
You have to put your shoes on she said to her brother. He ignored her.
The girl repeated herself and then looked at me. Was she looking for guidance? Or to see if I was watching her?
If you don't put your shoe on we are going to have to go home. Do you want to go home? she asked. The boy looked at her long enough to shake his head.
Okay then said the girl. I am going to count to three and then you have to put your shoes on. One, two, three she counted slowly.
When she was done the boy stretched out his feet towards his sister. She picked up the shoes and tried to out them on.
Mom! she yelled at me, I need help!
I had watched in awe. Surprised and amused to hear her say the words I usually say. I was proud to see how she talked to her brother.
I was pleased to know that she does listen to me. Even when I think she isn't.
She is listening to me. He is too. They are watching to see what I say. But more than that, they are watching to see what I do.