Thursday, December 23, 2010

Season of "Yes"

Coral sat before her gingerbread house. The brown, hard cookies plain and ready. I watched as her chubby finger extended into the cup of frosting, past her knuckle and back out, and straight into her mouth. And so the sugar began. When we arrived I had physically tensed at the huge bowls of every kind of candy, spread like an industrial rainbow on the kitchen counter top. There was enough to recreate any scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It was a child's dreamscape, so bright and colorful, shiny and promising. I, meanwhile, worried about teeth and sugar crashing, about the rest of the day, about Coral's sugar innocence.

Colby has no interest in candy, in anything sweet except yogurt, so this moment with Coral was my first in navigating the addictive, fascinating sugar relationship, parent and child. How much do I let her eat? What if the other mom, my smart, generous friend, and I are on different pages with the volume it is O.K. to eat? Mainly though, I realized, I was thinking of my own self preservation: I was tired, Craig had been gone for nearly two weeks, I knew my patience was already very thin and I worried about how I would deal with a kid bedraggled and bratty from sugar. On a good day Coral and Colby can drive me crazy, what would happen now, after this bonanza, this wild up, and wild down?

And then I looked. I looked at the kids, bewitched by this sumptuous, out of the ordinary spread. I looked around at this home, filled with holiday cheer, Amaryllis bulbs, pine garlands, bright Christmas tree sparkling in the corner, and I decided to just say, "Yes." I did not want to be the aggravated, uptight parent, always full of rules. This was a truly special moment, one that Coral at nearly three years old may very well remember. This was a time for general guidance, how to lay Necco wafers into the frosting to make shingles for instance, but daily rules could relax at the seams a bit.

And my friend and I were on the same page about volume, and both relaxed about it. It was fun for all of us to let go a little. For the kids to have these new tastes and textures: Twizzlers, marshmallows, non pariels, ribbon candy, gum drops. All by 11 a.m. We sat back and gave gentle reminders that the candy was meant to mostly decorate the gingerbread houses. We talked, just a little, about how some sugar is so good and so fun, but if you eat too much it can make you feel pretty yucky and not be fun at all anymore. It is that way with rules too, having rules is good, makes life feel like it makes some kind of sense, but too many can just make you feel, well, yucky, and make you miss out on all the fun of life.

Happy Holidays, may your season of "Yes" be merry and bright.

1 comment:

  1. I really struggle with things with Maria that I never dealt with when Anthony was her age. He could take or leave apple juice, for example, but Maria would kill a man for it. In many ways, it makes me feel like I've never been a parent before and it's frustrating. Good for you for saying YES and taking it easy. I love and miss you. xo