Moms complain incessantly? about the sneaky, manipulative and, well, hormonal ways of their teenagers (to put it quaintly).? And I’m sure teens come with a bevy of tricks up their sleeves.? I get that.
What? I don’t get, however,? is why those same mamas? don’t tell you this behavior can start much, much earlier—say, at age two?? Okay, so maybe not so much the hormonal behavior? (thank goodness!), but the sneakiness?? Most definitely.
I mean, I’m not one of those moms with her head? buried? in the sand? about her kids.? (Although, my son buries his own head in the sand—frequently.? So if you see him, no, that’s not dandruff).? I? own the peculiarities and challenges that? comprise my little mop-headed, opinionated, over-thinking? four year-old.? Hey, that was me standing in line at Barnes and Noble several years ago, clutching a towering stack of parenting books before my son even deigned to toddle.? Books with titles like “Parenting a Spirited Child”, and “How to Set Limits for Your Strong-Willed Child”.? ? And “How? to Keep Your Royal Pain? in the? Butt Kid? from? Driving? You? to Imbibe Massive Quantities of Alcohol and Smash Your Head and His onto a Very Hard Stone Surface on an Hourly? Basis.”? Okay, so maybe that last one? only existed in my brain.? ? But had? that title? been available for purchase, you can be 100% certain it would be keeping the other? manuals company on our bookshelf right now.
Still, there is no book on earth that prepares you for all the intricate nuances of parenting.? ? Or the minutiae of kids’ brains.? I mean, some children are just born thinkers.? And reasoners.? And lest you start thinking this is a wonderful thing, let me share a little story with you.
We call it “Connor and the Peanut Butter Cup”
Just before his third birthday, Connor is heading back home with hubby from some kind of male bonding experience, which, given my son’s utter enthrallment with trains at that time, undoubtedly consisted of the manly pursuit of visiting the hobby store and? fondling all the Thomas the tank engines.? For hours.? On the way home, hubby stops at the corner gas station for a drink, and of course, Connor asks for a mini Reese’s peanut butter cup (trust me–this is the lesser of many, many sugary evils that hubby exposed Connor to periodically at that same store).? ? Demonstrating? uncharacteristic restraint, hubby says, “You can only have one, and then we’ll bring another one home to mommy.”
So, moments after climbing into his car seat, Connor’s peanut butter cup vanishes, destined for a quick but fatal trip to Tummy Town.? And about a millisecond elapses before he’s demanding mine.? Hubby tells him, no, that one’s for mommy—you ate yours already.
Connor thinks for a moment, then says innocently, “Can I just hold it for mommy?”
Now, my hubby knows our son by now as well, so he’s immediately suspicious.? “You can’t eat it–it’s for mommy,” he reiterates.
Connor smiles again–”I know.? I just want to hold it for mommy, so I can give it to her when we get home.”
Melting under the radiant innocence of my son’s beatific grin, hubby caves and hands over? the peanut butter cup.? A few seconds later he hears, “Daddy, maybe I can just unwrap it and look at it for mommy.”
Hubby, who clearly did not read the “Setting Limits for Your Strong-Willed Child” book referenced above, says something to the effect of “Oh, that’s not a good idea.”? ? Basically, this kind of wishy-washy talk is like an open invitation to sin for spirited children.? Which means the wrapper? flies off said chocolate treat faster than the pants off a whore.? Then—”Daddy, this peanut butter cup’s broken.? ? Maybe I’ll? just eat this edge off, so it still looks pretty.”
By the time “No!” flies from my? sucker’s, I mean hubby’s,? mouth, it’s? too late.? The edge is gone.
? A? few moments later, “Daddy, it’s too small for mommy now.? I’m just gonna eat it all, and we can get her a new one later.”
Needless to say, I did not enjoy a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup that day.
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