By: Anne Marie Holloway
“I am stupid,” he says as he throws himself onto his bed face first in an admission of guilt. His little four year old body is tense with anger and dismay.
I watch my tiny little man as he clutches his favorite bear and blue blankie and sobs into his Mario Kart pillow case. “Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.”
I try to hide the tiny giggle that has bubbled up inside of me.
I know. It is not funny. Watching your child cry and call himself names is not pleasant. And believe me, I felt for him. I have been there – I guess we all have, at some point…
I despise that moment when you realize that you have made a poor decision. That moment when your conscience has betrayed you – albeit briefly – and you throw caution to the wind, only to make (as we say in our house) “the wrong choice.”
The result of such choices can only be summed up by what I was watching as my son dramatically sentenced himself to bed.
Where is Jiminy Cricket when you need him?
My youngest child (of the fabulous four) is bright. He is no fool. He may have little self control when it comes to not eating a bag of penny candy left beside his bed by his omnipotent big brother… But, he “gets it”…
And I suppose that gives me some relief, knowing he is not a professional con artist or a thief in training.
Like I said, we have all been there…
I myself clearly remember sitting at the table with my sister. My Mom had made fish sticks. Blechhh.
The memory of the visceral response I had (and still have) to the smell of fish sticks still clings to my frontal lobe like I was back at home. It was a pungent fishy smell that triggered the understanding that dinner was going to require an extra glass of milk and a good nose plugging to swallow their awfulness down. And, if there were fish sticks on your plate you could most certainly bet they would be accompanied by peas… Oh the tortures of childhood!
My mom always had a dessert ready for such nights. If you ate your meal, you would get your dessert. If not, you sat at the dinner table for a rather long period of time and your food would grow cold, but you would still be required to eat it. No compromising. No wasting. There were children in Ethiopia that were starving; be grateful for the fact that you had such luxuries – even if they were fish sticks.
This particular night, my sister (who was still in a high chair) and I stared at the fish sticks. We had hoped that once our parents had finished dinner, they would not take our dogs with them into the living room that abutted the kitchen.
We regularly held a vigil of hope that our parents would forget to remove our furried friends so that we could feed our pooches what was left of our awful dinner and then tell our parents we had finished.
But, I had smart parents. It never happened.
I remember coming up with a crazy and confusing scheme where I conned my then 3-year-old sister into eating all my fish sticks. I traded her three of my fish sticks for one of hers until I had a mostly clear plate.
I was then excused from the table and allowed to eat my dessert, which was a chocolate bunny lollipop (I think it was around Lent/Easter). I ran into my room, which was directly in view of my little sister at the kitchen table.
I opened the pop and began to enjoy my delicious reward. Then, I heard her – my little sister. Her big brown eyes brimming with tears, her tiny voice quivering in despair as she answered to my mother about why she was not eating, “Momma, I keeps eating them but they won’t go away.”
Flooded with guilt – I immediately realized what I had done. I began to cry. I remember burying my face into the side of my bed, so that no one would hear me. I could not live with such guilt. It was an awful decision. I had to make it right! But making it right would not be easy.
I met my Mom in the kitchen with the licked-clean lollipop stick… and I confessed my sin.
The consequence – I had to sit in the high chair and eat the rest of my sister’s cold and ketchup smeared fish sticks. I wonder if my Mom knew all along… I wonder if she sat in the next room stiffling a giggle as I sat in the high chair paying for my crime…
Anyways, back to Liam. I resumed my regular post on the end of his bed, waiting for a moment of calm in the storm to talk to him.
To my surprise, Liam sat up in bed and squared off his shoulders. His face was all blotchy and his big eyelashes were sticking together with wet tears. “Mom,” he said, “I am sorry. I was stupid. I love you.” And with that he handed me a half-chewed slimy handful of red and white candy corn.
Once again stifling a smile, I put on my most serious Momma face and attempted to begin my “moral of the story” speech that I have perfected over the years, when Liam threw himself on me and hugged me. As he held on to me he said, “I know Mom, don’t say it. Honesty is the best policy.”
One proud Momma moment.
A silent reassurance fell over me…quickly ripped away by what Liam said next..
“Do you know how I know that Mom?” Being so proud of my parenting skills, I opened my mouth to say that I was so proud that he listened to his parent’s teachings when Liam said…
“My favorite show. The one me and Colin watch. On the Amazing World of Gumball they say that honesty is the best policy….” (Grrrrr)
(Giggling sensation GONE.)
Apparently I have taught my offspring next to nothing.
Thank goodness for television.
Just to get even, I think I might go out and buy some fish sticks and candy.