Stories from an imperfect parent
Five-year-olds really are pretty awesome.
Two weeks ago(ish), Greta comes home with her un-eaten snack. As I pull it out of her backpack, I’m surprised; they have snack time every day. It’s apple season, and she had Honeycrisp apple slices in her bag for her snack. Sale season for Honeycrisp apples is a thing in our house.
Me: “G, why didn’t you eat your apples?”
G: “Mom! Someone in my class is allergic to apples! I CAN’T take apples for snack.”
Me: “Really?!” I’m surprised, but my college roommate was allergic to melon and we have a friend allergic to watermelon, so maybe apple allergies are a thing too.
::The next day.::
Me: As I pull a baggie of un-eaten grapes out of her backpack, “Greta! What’s this?! You didn’t eat your grapes?”
G: “Mom!” She looks me right in the eye, “Someone is allergic to grapes; no grapes are allowed.”
Me: Eyebrow arches as I have a lightbulb moment. “Does this mean you ate something from your teacher’s emergency snack basket?”
G: Big grin, “Yep! Goldfish crackers!”
Me: “What about yesterday? Did you have Goldfish from the basket?”
G: “Nope! I had animal crackers from the basket yesterday,” she is grinning.
Me: “I’m on to you sister,” in my serious mom voice while trying to keep a straight face. “I don’t think anyone is allergic to grapes. I also don’t think anyone is allergic to apples.” I watch her face fall as I speak, “I do think you really like your teacher’s snack basket.”
Greta is aghast that I caught on. She is upset that she should eat fruit when there are better options available. Oh, the indignation.
We proceed to have a lengthy conversation about lying and making good choices and doing the right thing and waste and healthy food and the cost of food and starving children and privilege and socioeconomics and all the things.
She still thinks she’s right.
I don’t know what to do. I’ve started putting her goldfish/pretzels/crackers as her snack and putting the fruit in her lunch. She still eats the same stuff, but in a different order. Does this mean she won?
I think I know why her teacher requested supplements to the snack basket. How many of her kindergartners are bringing home soggy snacks packed by well-intentioned parents?
I do think this highlights her confident independence and intelligence.
Maren, at around age five, was on a playdate. While she’s there, my friend (the mom) calls me.
Friend: “Hi! I’m standing here at my kitchen counter and I just offered Maren a cupcake.”
Me: “Okay. Cool.” I’m thinking, why are you calling me and telling me about cupcakes; is Maren in trouble or injured?
Friend: In an incredulous tone and a drawn out question, “Maren has asked that I call you to make sure it’s okay with you that she has this cupcake.”
Me: Laughing, “Yes she can have a cupcake.”
Friend: Hands Maren a cupcake with a thumbs up and walks into another room. “Jen! What the heck! I told her it was fine to have a cupcake but she still wanted me to check with you!?!”
Me: Still laughing. “I know. It’s Maren. She’s a rule-follower; I once told her she can’t have treats without permission and she took it very literally.”
Maren’s got a strong sense of self-regulating integrity and thrives with clear boundaries and direction.
When Maren was less than two I handed her a lollipop and showed her how to suck/lick it only. (Because the whole point of a lollipop for a toddler is twenty-minutes of quiet/peace/tranquility.) I said to her, “If you bite it, I have to put it in the trash. Only licking.” She bit it, and I made her watch me throw it in the trash. She was upset, but we moved on. I tried again that same week, and it worked well; from then on, she would sit (in the grocery cart, in the stroller, in her carseat, etc. for twenty-minutes while I re-grouped and/or concentrated on my task at hand.) I kept lollipops in my “emergency” pouch in my purse for many years. Maren is now nine and has never bit a lollipop. She was licking a lollipop the size of a sprinkle last month and I had to tell her to bite it and throw the stick away. The kid obeys.
I tried the same thing with Greta at the same age. Greta bit the lollipop. I threw it away. She was upset. Tried again a few weeks later. Bite. Trash. Fit. Again. Bite, trash, fit. I gave up, and Greta never gets lollipops because 1) her teeth may shatter with the force of her bite, and 2) the whole point of a lollipop is that twenty-minutes thing.
Gum works for Greta though; she never swallows it. It’s not quite as effective as the twenty-minutes you get out of a lollipop, but it has the same general benefit (to me, obviously.)
Boy, I’m sure you all are just scribbling notes at my parenting gems today, ey?! LOL. Model parent, I am not.
I love these girls.