I Want Candy

My daughter busted us eating her candy at least three times in the past week. I would like to say that this only happens around Halloween, but it’s not true. It’s an ongoing battle in our house. Whenever our daughter brings home candy she puts it in a cup in the cupboard. She has her daily piece from this stash. My husband also has his daily piece from this stash. I might also dig into the cup now and then depending on which side of the bed my little mini me crawled out of. All of a sudden the candy is gone and everybody is blaming each other for eating it all. The same thing happens with cereal. Anything sweet just seems to disappear in our house. It’s like living with magicians, or burglars.

This year on Halloween we went trick or treating with one of Riley’s classmates. Her parents were gracious enough to have us over even though the Mom was due with baby number two a few days later. We had pizza and salad and the dads took the girls out trick or treating. The moms hung back and passed out candy. It worked out pretty well because I could jump up and get to the door pretty quickly and let preggers take her time to get up to see the kids. After a few hours and several tumbles in the grass our girls and their handlers returned with their loot.

My daughter considered the candy hers and hers alone. My husband figured since he had to follow her around in the cold he deserved some of the candy as well. She tipped us out with chocolate bars that she didn’t like and sent us on our way that night. Since then the bag has been sitting in our kitchen, and all three of us have been eating from it, quietly when nobody else is looking. The bag has started to sag as the candy has gotten up and walked away on it’s own.

Last week my daughter finally organized all of her candy. She gave some to me, some to her dad and the rest she put back in her bag. I don’t know if she has created a candy spreadsheet, but she is definitely trying to control her inventory. She has taken stock of the laffy taffy and starburst, the jolly ranchers and twizzlers. She knows exactly what should be in that bag. I’m not going to tell her about the skittles wrapper I found while doing the laundry last night. I think her dad may have helped some little rainbow candy escape a child’s mouth. The wrapper was tucked into a box of dryer sheets. The garbage can was two feet away but I’m sure he had just been scolded for the wrappers she found in the kitchen garbage can while he was trying to hide the evidence of his latest theft. For a sugar junkie he’s really bad at covering his tracks. I mean, come on man, it takes two seconds to wrap it up in a kleenex or something else gross she would never touch while looking in the garbage. Total amateur.

Over the summer she bought herself a little locker to protect her valuables. She doesn’t keep her jewelry or money in it, she hides her candy from her parents. I’m guessing she will put some of her Halloween candy in there. It’s only a matter of time before she realizes that the bag is dwindling at night. Luckily she has given me the combination since she thinks it is only her dad who eats her candy while she sleeps.

 

Kindness Wins Again

My daughter is a very kind child. It’s one of her greatest attributes and I hope she is always able to reach into that place in herself and remain kind as she grows up and learns that others in the world are not often like her. She displayed some of this kindness while we were on a family vacation this weekend, and as always I was impressed with her ability to be compassionate at such a young age.

We go to a Great Wolf Lodge a few times a year for little weekend getaways. It’s a hotel with a water park and other fun stuff for kids to do. My parents love spending time with Riley and they decided since we hadn’t gotten away for a little while as a family, we should all go. So the five of us jumped in the car and took a little three hour trip up north. I have to say, my parents are great sports when it comes to doing things for their grandchild. We stayed in a suite that had a little log cabin in one room with bunk beds. My husband and I slept in there with our daughter the first night and it was like sleeping on a medieval torture device. When she declared she wanted her grandparents to sleep in there the second night they gladly agreed. They had seen the beds and my husband and myself after a night in the beds, but they slept there anyway. They also dragged their elderly butts up 57 steps to the top of a three person raft water slide repeatedly over the course of the weekend just to be able to bounce around and hear their grandchild laugh firsthand. I know it was 57 steps because my mother counted them on her first trip up.

One of the other activities that my daughter likes to do at the hotel is called Magic Quest. It’s basically a bunch of scavenger hunts in the hotel to earn badges. If you complete all of the quests you are named a master magi, a title which is highly revered by seven year olds. My daughter spent many hours in between playing in the water park, pumping half of my dad’s paycheck into arcade games and stuffing all form of sugar in her mouth running around the hotel gathering runes to complete her quests. Her favorite person to do this with was of course her grandpa. We all got to play at some point, but by the end of the trip she was grabbing his hand and sneaking out the door to go adventuring with her favorite playmate.

On our day of departure she had one more quest to complete to become a quest master. She and her grandpa were working diligently to complete the job before we had to leave. With only about fifteen minutes to go they ran across a little boy who was struggling to complete the quest he was working on. They stopped to help and my dad explained to her that if she helped the little boy she would not have time to finish her own quest and become a master. She thought about it for a few moments and said “that’s okay, he needs help. I want to help him.” So she did. She abandoned her own journey to help him finish his quest with no complaints. I came in after loading the car and started to round up the troops when my dad shared this story with me. He said “You created a good one there.” I would have to agree.

We all gathered together and helped our little magi who had to go back to the beginning of her quest and start over because there was a time limit. She ran around the hotel and with a little help from her dad and myself, she was able to find all of the runes and become a master magi. It’s funny the things you learn from your kids. Earlier in the trip my daughter had stopped to pick up a pair of wolf ears that a little girl dropped on the floor. She handed them back to the little girl who was in a panic because at first she thought that my daughter was picking up the ears for herself. The girl turned to her mother and said “Mama, that little girl just gave me back my ears. She picked them up for me!” She was surprised by my daughter’s kindness. I watched lots of other kids pushing and shoving their way through lines, knocking down smaller kids over the weekend. I even watched a dad leave his kid behind on the steps to make it to the front of the line for a raft. I am grateful that my daughter isn’t making her way through life like that. I’m proud of her for stopping to pick up the ears for another kid, and for abandoning her mission to help someone else because it was the right thing to do. We did create a pretty good little human being. I am so grateful that I get to learn from her every day.

Mother Mary

The other night I told my daughter we were going to church in the morning because it was a holy day of obligation. When she argued that it was a weekday and not a church day I told her we were going to celebrate the virgin Mary. I explained that we have all kinds of celebrations for Jesus but just this one day for his mother who was so important. She asked “will there be cake?” I guess it’s not a proper celebration without cake in her mind. I almost lied just to get her to comply, but I knew that would somehow lead to me actually purchasing a cake, so I stuck with the truth.

When I shared this story with my husband his reaction was “I’ll go to church with you if there’s cake!” Now he is sending me photos of cake ideas. He’s going to be really surprised when he comes home to find 24 cupcakes with rosaries on them. He forgets it is summer and I am home with a small child all day – we have nothing but time. So for anyone who didn’t celebrate the Assumption with a little cake after mass – you are doing it wrong.

 

Girlfixer

My daughter was looking through some of my old yearbooks last weekend. As I flipped the pages and looked at pictures of my class, I was a little shocked at how few of my classmates I remembered. I was also shocked that when I saw the picture of one particular girl I was brought right back to being a twelve year old girl and wanting to rip someone’s head off. Not so shockingly, it wasn’t even the girl, it was her mother.

I went to a very small school. There were less than 15 students in my grade and most of us had been in school together since we were very young. One girl that I was good friends with wore glasses the depth of the bottom of a glass soda bottle. Of course when some of the other girls teased her the words “Coke bottle” were often used. These are the words that I heard come out of the mouth of a girl we will call “Judy” that initiated my feelings of ill will toward her mother.

Judy was the kind of girl who defined herself by her looks. Her entire self worth was wrapped up in the emblem on her popped collared shirts and pink headbands. She spent more time in front of a mirror than a book and her school supplies consisted of glosses and powders rather than leads and paper. Looking back, I can’t really blame her for this, it was how she had been conditioned by her mother who was a walking Ralph Lauren advertisement. I think Judy’s mom was pretty, but it was hard to tell what she really looked like under all the mascara and hairspray. Sometimes her insides showed through which is exactly what kept her in the pageant runner up category. She would never be beautiful with all of her insides making an appearance like they did. She was full of gossip and snarky comments. It was no wonder Judy only felt good about herself when she was making others feel badly about themselves.

Judy never picked on me the way she did my friend. I think she knew better than to enter a battle of wits unarmed. Twelve years of smart assery had left me a relative wit warrior. Having an overly healthy self-esteem, her words would have been like paper airplanes attacking me. I threw grenades. And after she called my friend “Coke bottle” that day, I threw a pretty hefty grenade. I don’t recall my exact words but the message was that even the strongest braces were not going to fix her enormous buck teeth. Although I was a skilled verbal swords woman I was also a prepubescent girl so my natural reaction was to go directly for the jugular. She had no comeback for me other than to scream “BITCH!” which was, unfortunately for her, overheard by a nun walking down the hall. We were both taken to the headmistress’s office and our parents were called. I don’t recall any punishment. I do remember that our mothers had a telephone conversation that night.

In that conversation Judy’s bumbleheaded mother informed my mom that Judy was forced to call me a bitch. My mom asked if I had held her down and made her recite the word. I don’t think Judy’s mom understood what “personal responsibility” meant when my mom used the words and she certainly didn’t understand what my mom was getting at when she was trying to find out how I had coerced poor little Judy into swearing at me. Judy’s mom finally let her insides show and said “maybe if you stayed at home with your daughter these things wouldn’t happen…” My mom is a better person than I am. Where I would have said “maybe if you didn’t spend so much time with your daughter she wouldn’t know what a bitch was”, my mom remained calm and continued the conversation until they finally agreed to disagree and hung up. My mom has told me many times that there is no fixing stupid.

I know those words cut my mom. I know she often felt guilty about being a working mom in a land of stay at home moms. I know this because I used that guilt as a weapon on many occasions. Again, I was a prepubescent girl so my natural reaction was to go directly for the jugular – mother or not. Plus, I was kind of a manipulative little asshole. Those words actually provoked me to be a little more like my mom. I was pretty certain that Judy’s mom truly was a bitch and it was probably because she was miserable with her life decisions. I had always thought that my rebelliousness came from my dad, but I realized then that my mom had been bucking the system my whole life.

The Payoff

My daughter would make a natural politician. She has the gift of gab, she can manipulate the stripes off a zebra and when all else fails, she knows that most problems can be solved with cold hard cash. She has been attempting to use this last technique to avoid doing anything she doesn’t want to do lately. Last week I told her to get ready to go to the gym. She explained that it wasn’t a good time for her since her friend doesn’t go on Tuesdays. When I told her she would have plenty of other kids to play with, she waved a $5 at me and said “you can have THIS if you let me stay home from the gym!” When I asked her if she was trying to bribe me she asked what that meant. I explained that offering someone money to do something they didn’t want to do was bribery. She said very simply “yes, I am trying to bribe you.”

In her seven year old mind there is really no difference between working and accepting a bribe. She picks up sticks for my dad when he is doing yard work and he pays her. She sees this as getting paid for doing something she doesn’t want to do. She thinks my dad is paying her to do this work because he doesn’t want to do it – which is partially true. She thinks paying me $5 to avoid going to the gym is the same as my dad paying her $5 to pick up sticks so he doesn’t have to do it. I can’t argue with that logic since her young mind doesn’t have the life experience to understand the difference.

I think she’s going to need to pick up more sticks!

This is probably the time I should be teaching her that bribery is bad, but the thing is, I bribe her. I’m not saying this is a good parenting technique, but I use it. A lot. We have several different reward systems for things and they work, so I am going to continue to use them, bribery or not. She is smart enough to call me out on it if I tell her that she can’t bribe me but I can bribe her.

I do feel there must be a lesson to be learned here. I have decided that the lesson is you can only get out of unpleasant things for so long – in this case until you run out of money. So she hasn’t been to the gym in a week and I have $25 that I didn’t have last week. What can I say, some lessons are harder than others.

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