Sunday, August 14, 2005

Truth and Consequences

My husband and I are just wrapping up a week's vacation from work. We've spent the week with Sweetie, taking day trips on some days, playing close to home on others. Overall, it's been a great week (with not a bit of home repair made - yay!) and we are saddened to go back to the workweek drudgery.

One thing this week has afforded us is the opportunity to work with Sweetie on improving her understanding that her actions have consequences. Everything from no trip to the "train store" unless the blocks are picked up, to no cookie until she eats all of her dinner - we are all striving to abide by the rules.

Take today's lunch, for example. We all had the same thing to eat - grilled cheese and turkey sandwiches with chips. Sweetie LOVES chips. In fact, we know if we put them on her plate, combined with almost any other food offering, the chips will go but the rest of her meal will stay. So, like we've done before, we first gave her the sandwich to eat. If she ate that, then she could have chips. She is such a light eater, though, that I don't even expect her to eat all of her sandwich before getting the chips. Just one or two bites would be fine with me. So, for today's lunch when I asked her to eat just one more bite of sandwich before she could have chips, she picked up the largest bite on her plate. Great! I thought. This piece is so big that she just has to take one bite of it and she can get some chips. But then she kept eating it. Who am I to complain - eat! As she got closer to finishing up this chunk of sandwich - all she had left was one more mouthful - I changed my plan so that she had to completely finish this bit of sandwich before she could have any chips. Wouldn't you know - with one small mouthful left, she claimed herself done (but still wanting the chips, of course). So, what am I to do? Maybe not the best decision, but I decided she could have some chips because she had, after all, eaten more of that bit of sandwich than I had originally bargained for.

Sweetie enjoying a sweet treat at the family picnic

As all parents know, sometimes we tempt (okay, bribe) our children with promises of certain treats if they do/don't do certain things for us. I ran into this situation just yesterday. We were packing up for home after spending the day at the park for our annual family picnic. The ice cream truck had come into view and many of the little ones from our group were clamoring around, waiting to make their selections. Luckily, we don't have an ice cream man who regularly visits our neighborhood, so Sweetie is still blissfully (for me) unaware of what it means when those truck chimes sound. In fact, we were almost home free, steps away from settling into our car, when she saw some of her young cousins enjoying their cold treats. Of course, she wanted some. We said no. She had already had a fair amount of goodies from the other picnic offerings, so she didn't need ice cream now. She was upset. So, what's the next thing out of my mouth? "You can have ice cream once we get home, but we've got to go now." This, she understood and accepted. We were all happily on our way home. But I knew full well that we don't have any ice cream at home. I was hoping against hope that the 1 hour+ drive back would be enough time for her to forget the deal we made. And if not? Well, I figured my husband could make one of his yummy chocolate smoothies, which Sweetie loves, to share with her. After all, it's kind of ice cream-like.

Thankfully, my wager was correct - once we got home she had much bigger plans for how she, Mommy and Daddy would spend the evening than eating ice cream. She made no mention of the frosty dessert, and neither did we. That time, we got off lucky. But, believe me, there have been other times in our past - and many more times to come, I'm sure - when my husband and I need to be more careful about what we truthfully intend the consequences of her good (or bad) behavior to be.

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