Thursday, July 16, 2009

Colossal Ignorance

Good thing I've never claimed to be a perfect parent.

We went to the Toronto Zoo yesterday, a trip we've taken at least 50 times before. Since the weather yesterday was slightly cool and overcast, we went late in the afternoon and anticipated staying until the Zoo closed at 7:30pm.

The girls wanted to hit the waterpark first, so in spite of the cold water and the less-than-hot weather, we splashed around there for an hour or so. When they were sufficiently cold and hungry we got everybody dressed and then ate a picnic of cold chicken, still-hot baked potatoes, boiled eggs, cashews, dried apricots and cucumbers.

As soon as we left the waterpark area, Anna spotted a popsicle cart. She had already asked before we left home if she could get a popsicle at the zoo and I had reluctantly agreed. But when she wanted to get one she was still blue and shivering from being in the water, and she was full from eating a big meal. So I suggested that she wait and that we would get popsicles before we went home.

As it turned out, all of the staff at the popsicle carts left their posts at 6:30pm, and we were unable to buy one before we left. Anna lost her mind with grief. It was as if all the joy in the universe was sucked out of the atmosophere and replaced with indescribable suffering. I mean really. There has never been such carrying on over a popsicle, I'm sure, anywhere, ever.

So we left.

Holly had wanted to ride the Zoomobile and visit the orangutans, but there was no way that we could do anything with Anna who was imploding, exploding and ready to self-destruct. She tried to negotiate that we would go to the Zootique and look for some candy to replace the popsicle, but I was less than keen on that idea. I know her. A visit to the store for a lollypop would turn into another meltdown over wanting to buy a stuffed animal or a book or a puzzle or any other stupid little toy that she would be convinced would bring joy back to the universe.

But I was angry so we left.

To be perfectly honest, I already had my back up before we even got to the Zoo because she was completely focused on getting a popsicle. The minute we arrived at the Zoo she started looking for popsicle carts and planning which one she wanted. I kept thinking "We have popsicles at home, Anna. What's the big deal? Do we really have to drive all the way to Zoo for a popsicle?" I felt as though the only reason she had wanted to go to the Zoo was for the popsicle, and I felt like there was something wrong with that. Then I got really mad that we had to leave the Zoo before Holly got to do the things she wanted to do. And there was no way I was going to pacify Anna with candy. Like, I'm not that kind of mother.

So what kind of mother am I? Apparently I'm the kind of mother who randomly makes rules about when her children can and cannot eat sugar. I hate it that my kids eat sugar at all. In fact, just about the only thing that Partner-Guy and I 'fight' about is whether or not to let the kids eat candy. He thinks that since he enjoyed it as a kid, he doesn't want to deprive his kids of it. I think that since it makes them hyper, not sleep and gives them cavities, that we are too smart to keep feeding it to them. And I'm not exaggerating when I say that I hate that my kids eat candy. I actually have a choking and sick feeling when I see them eating it.

So what would an Authentic Parent do? I don't know.

Am I trying to change Anna by expecting her to want to go to the Zoo without the expectation of getting a popsicle or candy? Are my candy rules arbitrary? Who am I fighting with really: the kids or Partner-Guy? Is there any solution besides refusing to allow them to eat ANY candy or sugary junk of any kind, including homemade cookies and cake? What about when they are out with Partner-Guy and he buys them candy? Won't that just encourage them to be sneaky and deceitful because they know they can get it from him but not from me?

I'm really stumped by this. I have been trying to solve this problem for the last 4 years, and I am no further ahead.

Of all the disagreements I expected to have with my kids as they grew up, I really didn't expect to spend this much time dealing with and thinking about candy. Piercings, parties and pregnancy, yes, but not candy. Sigh.

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