When Kalani was born we didn't change much about the way we spoke. We still used 'colourful' language, talked about other people, discussed Kalani and how little he was sleeping - basically nothing changed.
Then, as Kalani started to grow, we started to watch what we said a bit more.
The first big change was the swearing. Given that small children learning to talk like to copy what YOU say, this was a pretty obvious language change for us to make. After all, nobody wants their adorable 2 year old swearing like a trooper.
The next change that we consciously made was to stop talking about Kalani as if he wasn't there. I've often heard other parents continue to talk about their kids when those same children are listening. "Oh, little Susie is such a good girl, but just won't eat her greens. She's such a fussy eater". Then, surprise, surprise, Susie never eats her greens and thinks of herself as a fussy eater for the rest of her life. A self-fulfilling prophecy. The same way that if you constantly tell someone that they're stupid, eventually they'll believe it.
Anyway, we thought everything was fine, and we were being mindful of what we were saying until a few weeks ago. We were sitting around having dinner and Kalani asked what a genie was. I explained it was a kind of magician/wizardy person that lived in a bottle, and if you rub the bottle and the genie comes out then you get 3 wishes.
I'm always curious to know what goes on in Kalani's mind, so I asked him what his 3 wishes would be.
He said that his first wish would be to have lots of money that he would give to us.
So we asked him (quietly) - "Why? Why would you give us lots of money?"
"So you can buy the things you need" he said, "To get all the things that you can't buy now because you don't have enough money".
*tear rolls down cheek*
I told Kalani that we didn't need any more money, and we were all so happy just as we are, and then we continued to spend his wishes.. and then ours (if you're interested, Dan wished for world peace and then stuff related to surfing. I wished for Newfoundland to move down next to Australia, another kitten and a puppy).
Obviously Kalani had been listening to our many conversations about money. We've had a rough couple of months, and have spent quite a bit of time discussing how to deal with our various fiscal challenges. And I know that we talked about everything in front of him, but I really didn't clue in to the fact that he was listening to us. Really listening. And I definitely didn't think that it might concern him too. What a sin - a 5 year old who's worried about his parent's financial situation.
So now we've made a lot more changes to our conversational habits. We're always, always, always mindful of the fact that Kalani is listening to us. And while he might not say anything at the time, or even show that he's heard what we're talking about, he's listening. And we should continuously watch what we say.
PS - Since I started writing this (a few months ago - procrastination is my new middle name!!), we have adopted a new puppy. Who says that wishes don't come true?!