“I’m doing exactly what you do, dad."

I crossed my arms. Blake crossed his arms.
I put my hands in my pockets. Blake’s hands slid into his pockets.
I looked at my son, who should have been paying attention in church and grinned at him.
“I’m doing exactly what you do, dad,” he said with a smile.
And at that moment, my brain exploded. Thankfully for the church’s janitorial staff it was a virtual explosion – not of a more literal nature.
But it exploded.
Sure, there are a lot of things about myself I would love to see my son emulate. But I have already experienced several occasions where I found myself giving advice to this child-turned-young man that I don’t follow very well.
The older he gets, the more of my life he sees and understands.
When babies are born, your sleeping habits change but it doesn’t matter what shows you watch or songs you listen to. After all, they can’t understand anything that is going on.
Soon, you have to regulate television and movies so that they don’t see things you don’t want them to see or hear things little ears shouldn’t hear.
As they mature, you better believe you will either tighten the controls further or you will shine a light on all of those dark places they never could see before.
James Baldwin once said, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
He may never do “exactly” what I do as he did in church Sunday. But our kids do learn a lesson with every action we take.
Too much TV?
I always loved the scene in the classic old movie “Better Off Dead” where the Japanese immigrants challenged John Cusack’s character to a race at a stoplight.
The two men had come from Japan and learned to speak English by watching Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football.
So when they challenged him, Cosell’s inflection from the body of a Japanese man was a funny dichotomy.
Dawit isn’t learning English from Thomas the Train or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but he can recite far too many commercials.
If you say, “Nationwide” he will invariably sing, “… is on your side.”
We saw another example of this on Sunday.
My wife and I had the boys call our parents for Grandparents Day. When they called my in-laws, Blake said, “Do you know what day it is?” He was wondering if they knew it was Grandparents Day.
But Dawit didn’t know that and he watches way too many commercials starring camels.
So when Blake asked what day it is, Dawit instinctually said, “Hump Day!”
Dawit is always funny. Sometimes it is on purpose.

Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers. He  can be contacted at: kbush@augustagazette.com