Val had taken her ponytail out yet again. I sighed and began to search for the hair rubber band. Sometimes I stand a chance at finding it if I've caught her only a few minutes later. Other times I end up digging another one out of the drawer while I wait for the old one to surface, usually weeks later, usually under the couch, usually put there by the cat (along with every other one he's found) and almost certainly immediately after I've purchased 53 brand new hair ties.
It wasn't until I was wiping her hands after lunch that I found it around her wrist. It's no secret where she learned what to do with loose hair rubber bands. I glanced down at my wrist to see my own black hair band next to my watch.
I hadn't ever talked to her about it or made any special effort to demonstrate what I do with hair ties. I was just living like I always do and she was there watching me live like I always do. And then she copied what she saw.
If I had told her, "never ever ever put your hair band around your wrist. It's bad." and then continued to do it myself, would she have followed my advice? I doubt it. And I wouldn't blame her, would you? Conversely, I could blather on and on about how wonderful and beneficial it is to keep hair bands on your wrists but if I never did would she think it was as important as I made it sound? I doubt it.
In the days since then I've taken many hair ties off her chubby little wrists and each time I remember that I have a little person who looks up to me. She watches me and learns how to live. How to feel. How to learn. How to interact. How to be.
I am reminded to live like how I want her to live, even in the small things - especially in the small things. Because she's always watching... whether or not she appears to be listening.
I don't want to disapoint her.