As the child grew, he watched his parents. And through them he learned a lot about how to navigate life.
Some of what he learned he kept when he became an adult, because it was good and right and worthy of retaining and using.
But some of what he learned he discarded because it was unworthy of keeping. But nevertheless, these things still taught him, because through them he learned what he would do differently. Building on them, improving them, changing them so that they became good and worthy of doing.
So he was like most children. Learning from his parents, both through what they said and taught him and by what they actually did and role modeled for him.
And his parents were like most parents for they did the best they could, to make decisions about what to keep, what to improve upon, and what to discard from all that they had learned from their parents. Or learned through books or other parents.
When one of my sons was very little, perhaps around 10 months old, he was toddling around our bedroom, as I was getting ready for the day. I turned around and noticed that he had somehow got ahold of my deodorant and he was trying to put it on, mimicking me exactly. I was surprised to see that he knew exactly how to use it. I had been unaware how much he was studying me as he busily played around me. And how much he was learning from me, just by observing me.
It affirmed for me the magnitude of what children learn simply through watching and scrutinizing all that is going on in the world around them. I had learned about this in my psychology courses for my Masters degree in counselling psychology. But the lesson really hit home now I was experiencing it first hand.
Years later, as I enjoy my grandsons I am seeing the same pattern of learning. Just the other day, one of them, who is now 14 months old, was playing with an old TV clicker. As I observed him, he pointed it to the TV and began to press the buttons. He too knew exactly what to do, simply through watching his parents.
So there is no doubt that we as parents we can leave written legacies for our children, documents such as memoirs, journals, and wills. And we can verbally teach them about what we think are the best ways to behave and to navigate life.
But we must also remember that we write them legacies about life, through how we live our lives.
For an index of all my posts in the series, please click here.
Photo credits: Caleb Woods and Aaron Mello, from Unsplash