This post's theme are twofold:
1. the memories of kids and the need to be hyper-consistent as a result and
2. the externalities of parenting in public.
The post is also remniscent of a recent post by LesbianDad that is only fun to read if you are not her: the mean parent enforcing the necessary limit.
A few weeks ago, thanks to the highly motivated and planful, BioMom, we were at a restaurant with some friends whose daughter was about to turn 10. At the restaurant we surprised said daughter and our SYO (Big was with a sitter) with tickets to the play High School Musical at our local Children's Theatre.
Of course, Six, could never really understand the ends to which BioMom had to go to get these tickets (at that point in time you'd have to promise your next born to get them) and, I think, that just being with this older girl, a good and looked-up-to friend was so ENOUGH of an experience to her that adding tickets to an actual live production of her beloved movie was just over the top.
I say this because I am admitting that we may have set her up for failure here.
Anyway, we have brunch at the restaurant and the kids enjoy a sundae in celebration of the birthday.
We go to the play, BioMom elbows her way to front row tickets (the seats were not reserved and we were not at the front of the line. Don't ask me how she did it. She has her ways.) Needless to say, it was great. I'm not into the movie at all (in fact, that was the first time I'd seen it start-to-finish, and I was hooked. Picture me clapping and sort of singing the words with the actors at the end of the show dancing only feet away from us!
At intermission, Six turns to BioMom: Where's my snack?
We (obviously) didn't bring a snack for loads of reasons, not least of which was that she had literally shared lunch and a sundae less than an hour before this request.
Once. ONCE BioMom brought a cookie that had been left over from the day before, to one of the Children's Theatre shows. And now, as could be read in her eyes, she was furious that we didn't have a snack for her that day. She was so furious that it seemed (to us at least) to cloud over the rest of the production.
That night, during our five minutes before bed, we asked her about her highs and lows for the day. All she could focus on was that she did not have a snack at intermission.
All of the parenting books written don't prepare you for moments like this. Dissapointment that she is dissapointed. Horror that she's dissapointed about some stupid snack. Dissapointment that she doesn't recognize the effort you made to surprise her with her very favorite thing. . . etc. etc.
On a related note, today she and I attended this cool "writing adventures" class for kids and their "favorite adults" (no idea what was in the person who wrote that title's head. Imagine asking a kid who their "favorite" adult is!?!) for four-to-eight year old's.
It was great. The class leader prompted characters settings, actions, and problems about which the kids could write a story. Six's was a fun story about a cat named "Midnight" from Antarctica (we just saw Eight Below) who was somehow involved in East High (the setting of High School Musical) and wanted to be a painter. You can imagine a plot based on such diverse building blocks.
During one break time we were in the bathroom, taking up two of the three stalls when one woman walks in with her son. Without waiting for any request from him, she kept reminding him that she had his "snack." "Are you hungry?" "Do you want your snack?" "I've got your snack!"
The kid was all: "After I pee!"
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-snack.
I get it that kids need little snacks here and there. I'm not sure that a six-almost-seven year old needs one in less than two hours after she's had breakfast. And I'm even less sure that the "snack" needs to be what we used to refer to as "treats" but that is an entirely different story.
[As an aside, here's my personal snack test. In response to this request from Six "Can I have a snack?" I say: "Sure! We've got fruit, yogurt, cheese sticks, raisins, milk or crackers. What would you like?" She invariably responds by saying that she no longer wants a snack. Hungry? I think not.]
Know, too, that I have high sympathy for a sweet tooth.
In the bathroom stall next to Six, I can just feel her energy change after over-hearing this conversation between the woman and her son.
I see Six, and she says "I'm HUNGRY!!"
Of course, I have no snack. We are literally going home after the class to eat lunch.
Walking back, the woman turns to me and says (incredulously): A Kit-Kat WITH caramel!
Let me ask you this: Who brings CANDY as a snack in the middle of the morning???
This is clearly a negative externality of parenting. The behavior between that woman and her son not only makes that moment uncomfortable for me (what a terrible parent I am to a) not have a snack at all and b) whatever snack that would have been it certainly wouldn't have been a candy bar) but it makes it harder for me to enforce healthy eating at every point in the indefinite future.
I can just hear it: But it's not FAY-YER!!! OTHER PEOPLE's PARENTS LET THEM HAVE CANDY AND/OR ANY SUGAR/SATURATED FAT COMBO AT EVERY POSSIBLE JUNCTURE IN THE DAY THAT LENDS ITSELF TO PUTTING FOOD INTO YOUR MOUTH!!!
Okay, not exactly, but you get the point.