Before long he finally saw the hummingbird feeder hanging outside the dining room window. He loved to watch the "little buhds" while he ate.
Then one time when they were staying with us while mom and dad were out of town, Keith told him the little birds were eating just like he was, that they stuck their noses in the hole of the feeder and used them like a straw to suck up the nectar. Oops! Not a minute later, this ingenious little 20 month old was trying to maneuver his nose over the straw of his juice cup and suck it up just like a hummingbird. Quickly we explained that people can't do that because it would not go into their tummies like it does for the "little birds." He seemed skeptical, but he stopped trying.
The next day we came to the table right after watching the cardinals peck up bird seed from the trough at my other window. Once again the hummingbirds flew in for dinner while we ate. Judah sat and thought a minute then said, "Red birds don't have long noses. They eat like this," and he bent over and banged his little mouth against the wooden table trying to peck. That time he stopped himself, holding his little hand against his red lip. I looked closely. It wasn't bleeding but he had a fat lip for a day or two.
Children will mimic anyone and, it seems, anything. Even birds. Which is why it is important to be so careful around them. Silas at three was parroting (pun intended) me and his Granddad. Not that we were using bad language, but it just startles you so to hear it and realize that you use certain words and phrases often enough for them to pick up on.
And not just your words, or even your actions. Children will also pick up your attitudes—about people, about life, about God, about your brothers and sisters in the faith, about sin and evil in the world--about other drivers! That means we must be vigilant as parents, grandparents, and teachers of children in any capacity, because we can also teach them what is right and good.
A few years ago, Mona Charen wrote an article about a study by the National Institutes of Health examining children who experienced all sorts of care—large institutional day care, nursery schools, relative care, nannies, dads, and stay-at-home moms. The findings were not well received by the feminists. "Children who spent significant amounts of time in care with people other than their own mothers were three times as likely as home-reared children to be aggressive, defiant, impatient, and attention-demanding…The effects really begin to kick in when a child spends more than 30 hours a week in alternative care."
And do you know why that is? Because children in daycare are mimicking other children. Children at home are mimicking adults who, we hope, are mature and exhibit all the qualities you eventually want your child to have.
If you want your children to grow up to be godly, kind, merciful servants of God who know his Word, make sure that is what you are. Whether you like it or not, he will do exactly what you show him how to do.
So these nations feared the LORD and also served their carved images. Their children did likewise, and their children's children—as their fathers did, so they do to this day. (2Kgs 17:41)