So, what do you do when your 8 year old slips a piece of candy in her pocket while you are busy paying for the yarn to make another “great scarf”*?
Of course, if she had waited to try to eat the candy until she was alone in her room, later that night, I would be none the wiser as to my child’s aspirations toward a life of crime. And yet, she is my daughter and has her father’s gene’s, as well, which means that if she does pursue a life of crime she will be one of those caught up in the Darwin Awards.
For example, we are running errands very quickly in this very, very, very cold weather. Did I mention it is cold? And at every stop, she asks for something, which she is wont to do. At every stop, I say, no. And its not just a no, it’s a “we’ll get something for dessert when we get to Target to get your valentine cards.” Okay? So it’s not like this child is chocolate deprived, or ever will be.
But after said yarn purchasing trip, we get in the car to make the two-minute drive we must do to cross the BIG road to get to Target and I hear this “crinkle, crinkle” coming from the far side of her seat. “What have you got?” I asked. And, if you have ever been in the presence of a guilty or not even all that guilty child you know what the response is first dead silence accompanied by wide eyes and then: “Nothing.”
This goes on for a bit before I say, “you’ve got something, I can hear it and I can see it and I need you to tell me what’s going on and I need you to tell me with all the honesty in your heart.”
Someday I will laugh at this. Today is not that day. Still, a smile starts to course across my face as I see the look on her face revisioned in my head as she pulls the 39 cent piece of candy from the seat next to her and holds it out toward me. It is one of those pieces of candy where the wrapper twists on either end, and the sound I heard was of her trying to untwist it open. This is not the kind of candy that I usually buy, and believe me, I usually buy candy. So, it is suspect.
Now, I’ve got my husband’s car because it was warm, but he has to convene a church Board meeting and I have to get home because my middle daughter is in Home Ec. now and is so pleased to be cooking dinner for us: Pigs in a Blanket, with chips, and some apples. And I still haven’t been to Target to get Valentines and Toilet Paper and Milk (not to mention that candy that I usually buy). So I pull across the street and park in the Target parking lot and I ask her once again: Where did that come from?
Now, I know you aren’t supposed to ask children questions that you know the answer to and that you know they will respond untruthfully, but in the heat of the moment this is what I was left with: Where did you get that.
And out of this precious little child’s mouth comes the longest line of BS and you know that the entire time she was not answering my “what do you have” question she was concocting this line of crap. And so the crap spews from her mouth, as sweetly as if it were chocolate crap. And I listen. And then I talk and I talk and I talk and I tell her I want the truth or …. or what?
So I put the car in reverse and back out of that spot and I drive my little cutey back across the street where we go in to pay for said 39 cent piece of candy. Because I can bend the truth about a few things (a very few things), but there’s something in my DNA that won’t let me take a 39 cent piece of candy home without paying for it and because, well, she had gotten the darn thing untwisted.
So, we go in and pay for the damn thing and the lady keeps yacking on the phone and I want her to stop what she is doing and pay attention because this is a VERY IMPORTANT LESSON, dammit, and finally she does and she thinks by the look on my face that I’m going to horsewhip this child. Because, it’s only a 39 cent piece of candy, right?
So, we pay for it and I put it in my purse and we drive straight home to get the warm car to my husband and me to the Pigs in a Blanket, bypassing Target and the Valentines and the chocolate I wanted for dessert and I start talking and talking and talking. And then … I shut up.
I remembered Lizard Eater’s Much Much and I shut my mouth for a moment. And when she could feel the weight of my silence I said, “the thing is, just before this, I was thinking to myself–and perhaps I should have said it out loud–how nice it is that I can take you places and you can ask for things and I can say no and there’s no tantrum. And I was really feeling good and happy about that. And now, I feel empty and mad cuz I really wanted to be able to spend time with you like this.”
Is it awful to do a silent “yes” when you see the tear falling down your child’s face. It was true. It was heartfelt. And it worked.
Well, I guess we’ll see if it worked in 10 to 20 years time, hoping she won’t be doing 10 to 20 years time in the pokey. and that ain’t the hokey pokey.
Yes, there was more to the story: chores to do, privileges taken away. We’re still working all that out. Because I know that this is something most kids will do when given an opportunity. My job, I guess, is to show her it isn’t just the 39 cent piece of candy at stake.
I’m thinking of leaving that piece of candy lying about for a while. Let it eat at her for a bit.
Well, I guess I am writing again, afterall.
*The “great scarf” is just that: a wide swatch of yarn that can be worn as a scarf or a shall. When I wore it to church for the first time, my friend Peter said “That’s a great scarf, and I mean GREAT, because it is so huge. I’m wearing it now. Did I tell you it is cold?