How I didn’t want to spend an hour of my morning:

Drenched in my own sweat as my legs became plastered to a vinyl covered sofa on which I sat with a 3 year old girl.  Because if it’s 84 degrees outside, it’s 90 degrees inside the Philly rowhome, as the stagnant air sits heavily in the darkened room.  No air conditioning, no fan, no cracked window.  Just a neighborhood girl outside distracting the child I was working with inside, making us both long for the relatively fresh air the sunshine promised.  No air, just vinyl covering every soft surface, and just three million ceramic angels tacked to every vertical or horizontal surface. Two gigantic TV cabinets in each corner of the living room, one filled with a TV, the other, with angels.  Angels on the wood paneled walls, angels on knick-knack shelves looking over the couch, angels on the end tables, angels gracing placemats seen through the glass coffee table.  Angels going up the stairs, angels on the doorways.  And each table (dining room, end-table, coffee table) covered with its own hermetic layer of vinyl.  The entire home could be cleaned by Windex. 

Not the ideal place for a 3 year old who needs to run around and use up her energy.  Can you imagine building a pillow fort out of vinyl cushions?  Just sayin’.  So I wasn’t altogether surprised to hear the little girl, who had until now used a quiet voice to utter short, shy phrases to me, scream at her mother the top of her lungs, “You bitch!” and then, a few moments later, “You ugly!”  If my eyes had widened as they adjusted to the dark and then were assaulted by the heavenly bound cherubim, my jaw now dropped in shock upon hearing this little girl yell epithets at her mom. 

Children learn by example, by what they see, what they hear, how they observe their families interacting.  But no amount of Windex can clean up the mouth of a 3 year old whose mother has modeled screaming obscenities as appropriate language in her home.

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