Photos by Briana Lindsey Photography
You know when your toddler throws something in anger, hits the toy next to them to "show you who's boss," or yells "no!" in your face when they don't get their way? There are so many times when Ava is mad (and showing it) and I can't help but laugh. I have to turn the other way, let out a big smile and silently laugh inside so she doesn't see it and in some cases, I burst into laughter and then have remind myself to hold my composure and show her that this mom is boss.
But sometimes she's just straight hilarious -- ohh the sass.
She'll roll her eyes at us, give us the "side eye" when we call her name and she doesn't want to listen and it's pretty fun to see that little personality blossoming. But this is also the time that her brain is growing like crazy, she's learning her vocabulary and learning right from wrong, she's learning to find ways to cope with being mad and sad and just straight angry and she's just taking in the world like a sponge.
And that's pretty cool and exciting for me but if you think about, it's pretty freaking scary too. The ways in which I raise her now are going to stick with her for a lifetime. Her manners and how she treats her friends and how she speaks to adults and the way she responds to her parents when she doesn't get her way -- she's learning all of that right now.
Right now, you guys. Ava's future is in the making as we speak.
So I've been thinking a lot about how society seems to praise and encourage and really, put sassy kids on a pedestal. Videos of kids saying incredibly sassy (yet funny) things go viral, t-shirts that promote it like "sassy never goes out of style" and "sassy since birth" are sold all over the place and for some reason, we find it cute. We find it all just so adorable.
I quickly googled the definition of "sassy" and this is what I got:
1. Rude and disrespectful; impudent.
2. Lively and spirited; jaunty.
3. Stylish; chic: a sassy little hat.
I'm happy with Ava being lively and spirited and stylish. I'm happy with all of that but take a look at that first definition --
Rude and disrespectful.
Then I looked up synonyms for "sassy" -- disrespectful, mouthy, overbold, rude, smart-alecky, smart-mouthed...and the list goes on. I don't know about you, but I don't want Ava to be any of that.
Don't get me wrong, I laugh at those viral videos and I think those shirts are pretty cute too but think about it...
Do you want to raise an adult who people consider sassy?
Would a boss want to hire someone or keep someone within their company who is "rude and disrespectful"? Would a man want to marry a woman who acts like this? Someone who acts just like the sassy kids we find funny? Do you want your teenager to grow up thinking it's hilarious and cute to talk back to you?
I'm guessing the answer is no. Well, I'm hoping the answer is no. We are not just raising babies and we are not just raising toddlers or kids.
We are raising adults.
How Ava learns to act right now and how I respond to the ways she acts will surely impact her future. That's all going to shape her entire future and the adult she becomes.
So yeah, there will still be times when I can't help but laugh out loud as my two-year-old daughter rolls her eyes at me when I ask her to come to pray with us at the dinner table. And even if I can hold my laughter back, I'll be cracking up inside when Ava talks back to me...until it gets old, that is. Because no one likes a sassy tween or teen. So we praise the the sassiness in toddlers but in tweens and teens and adults it's just straight disrespectful, right? Seems a bit strange that we think it's funny now.
So I guess what I'm really saying (in a not so short story) is that we need to stop praising "sassy." Let's, instead, praise and promote kids being helpful and kind and classy and respectful and positive and all of the wonderful characteristics that we want to see in them as adults. Because it all starts NOW. It may be funny and kinda cute now but the more we promote it, the more we will see adults growing up and acting this way...as adults. We are shaping these little humans to be part of society, to be impactful blessings on the world and what we praise in them even at age 2 will stick with them for a lifetime.
We are raising, not babies + kids, but the adults of this world's future.