“Oh be careful, little eyes, what you see…” When I was a little girl, this was one of the songs we often sang in Sunday school and vacation Bible school. The verses included, “be careful, little ears, what you hear,” “be careful, little feet, where you go,” “be careful, little hands, what you do,” and “be careful, little mouth, what you say.” Whether or not you believe the rest of each verse (“There’s a Father up above, and He’s looking down with love”), this is wise advice for any child – and for any adult.
As the parent of two small children, I’ve become more aware of the things around me that aren’t really appropriate for children, and it makes me aware of just how inured to certain things I’ve become. For example, I might be reading in the living room and have a movie on the TV that I’m not particularly watching, but when my kids walk into the room I suddenly realize that there’s graphic violence and blood that they definitely don’t need to see – and really, neither do I. And if I’m working at my computer and have a website up that uses some profanity, if my 5-year-old-who-reads-everything-out-loud peeks over my shoulder, I don’t want him exposed to that – and frankly, I don’t particularly want myself exposed to it, either.
Please don’t misunderstand me: there’s nothing wrong with a certain amount of TV and movie violence and blood and guts, and if other adults want to drop f-bombs into every sentence, that’s their prerogative. My problem with it is that it’s not something I want for myself – and yet, I let myself be surrounded by it. And it takes my children being exposed to it that remind me that I don’t really want to be exposed to it myself. Or at least, if I’m being exposed to it, I want to be conscious of it, instead of just having it around as a presence I’ve gotten so used to that I no longer see it.
My children help me to see the world around me more clearly. Their presence forces me to re-evaluate the way I live my life. Because they see me, and they copy me. And if they see me allowing things I don’t want in my life into my life, they see them as being perfectly normal and acceptable. I want them to see me consciously choosing what I surround myself with based on my own moral code. When they are adults, maybe they’ll have a different moral code than I do, but I want them to be aware of their own moral code, and to consciously live their life by it. I want them to think, and I want them to see.
Be careful, little eyes, what you see.