Today, I learned an important lesson in parenting: Sometimes you have to trick your kid. Then I realized that God tricks us too, but He’s an excellent parent, so it’s cool.
I hate trickery of any sort. The second I feel like someone has tried a bait and switch on me, whether it be an unnecessary warranty upsell on a used car, or a person at church who makes noises about saying hi to the newborn, but really wants to tell me about which choruses they do and most certainly do not like.
Just give it to me straight. That’s all I ask. If you want to complain about the music, knock yourself out.
A straight ahead approach is completely lost on a two year old, Ella. I know. I’ve tried. I would kill to be able to simply lay out the benefits of a relaxed environment of obedience in our household. I would explain how a system of mutual respect and an understanding of the roles in which we temporarily find one another, i.e. parent and child, will allow Ella to fulfill her desires in a safe, responsible way. As long as I am the Acting Executive Assistant to The Chief Financial Officer of The People’s Republic of Fantasyland, I would also explain that increasing amounts of trust and responsibility will be shifted her direction, and that in the fullness of time, her mother and I will gratefully release her as an independant woman in the care of her God and her sound mind, so that in the mean time, she might relax and enjoy herself and not be a pill if she only gets her way 94.5% of the time.
Aaaaaah. That felt good. Now back to reality.
Tonight, I had an amazing homemade salad with salmon, pomegranate seeds, endives, green onions, and mangos on it. I got it in my head that Ella might enjoy a bite of mango. Ella has quite an eating palate, if you insist I brag. She actually requests vegetables. She eats seafood, sushi rolls included. We’re not total grape nuts around here, her Oreo jones is met and satisfied. Anyways… she has a cool little sense of food adventure, there’s not much she won’t try.
But she wouldn’t try the mango.
C’mon! It’s like a cantaloupe, but cooler, because it tastes better and is from Hawaii, where everything’s cooler!
Ooooh… I’m gonna eat your mango! You better get it quick, because I’mmmm goonnnaaa eaaaattt itt aallll up!
How about some more rice? (Handing me a spoonful of Uncle Ben’s finest.)
And so on. I was in no mood to make it a Federal Obiedience Issue. It was a fricken mango, for fart’s sake. All through the dinner I tried to get her to eat some, and she wasn’t havin’ any of it. Finally, towards the end of the meal, I spotted my money clip at the other end of the table and decided to try and get a laugh out of Mommy.
I’ll give you two dollars if you eat the mango.
Unimpressed. Johnny Chan cool. Vulcan cool. Your money is worthless here cool. Then I spotted my change.
I will throw in thirty four cents as a bonus. You know what you can buy with two dollars and thirty four cents at today’s market climate? Stickers.
Stickers. Bingo. No self respecting two year old female can resist their seductive song. It’s like dangling a bleeding persian cat over a croc pit. It’s over.
She ate one piece, and took down her pot. As she counted her winnings, mommy sneakily got one more, then another, and then a verbal concession that mango was, in fact, not the most reviled substance in California. I won! I got her to do it! I knew she’d like it, and she did! And it only cost me $2.34!
Erica quipped that inflation really is something, because she used to fold tablecloths out of the dryer for a dime. A dime per tablecloth? Nope, just a dime. I told her she should have fired her agent.
Then I thought about it, and realized that $2.34 is a pittance to pay if my beautiful little girl aquires a taste for mango, one of God’s sweetest and most delightful fruits. A sense of adventure in cuisine is, in my opinion, a mark of a kindred spirit. What a gift I gave her for just over two bucks.
Money well spent, if you ask me. Maybe I’m not a half-bad parent after all.
Sharp Left Mental Turn Ahead. Be Prepared.
I have been thinking a lot about Aly’s Sex in the Bible post. I had no idea that she and Ash and Ramon were collaborating on such a smashing concept. I only wish it needed a musical score. I have made only smarmy comments thus far, because I have so many thoughts on the issue of Christian sexuality that I don’t even really know where to begin.
One of the things that I have been thinking about is the reality that sex tricks young Christian men and women into getting married, so they can begin (or continue) having hot sex with one another and not feel crappy about it after the deed gets done. I say trick, because no one in their early or mid 20s really knows themselves or their spouse well enough to get married to them for their entire lives! They think they do, but they don’t. Anyone who’s been married can tell you that.
On paper, the idea of sleeping around and living together first seems like a really sound idea, as you can really get to know the product. You know… suss it all out a bit… if you know what I mean. Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more. On paper, the world has the most prudent, thoughtful, sensible approach to picking a spouse.
If I were a better blogger, I would have links to back this statement up, but studies have shown that couples (of all races, creeds, and faiths) who sleep and live together before marriage have a lower success rate than those who don’t. Hmm. That’s odd. There could be a myriad of reasons as to why. Perhaps there’s a cheapening of the ritual of learning how to live together. Perhaps the bonds of sexuality aren’t forged in a place of innocence, so they are not as strong. My former boss liked to point out that your best chance of having a marriage survive has less to do with who you are, and more to do with who’s around you, who you come from. We are all capable of being selfish assholes from time to time, but if your parents stayed together, and your friends stay together, you’re more likely to want to try and work it out. It’s just one way to stack the cards in your favor. In an ironic twist, he did recently something selfishly assholic , and yet his marriage survived and is healing.
So… I think God tricks us as He parents us…. for our own good. I think He’s as wise as wisdom itself, and I think He knows us in the marrow. I think He gives us the gift of carnal pleasure as a big lure to get us through that scary door called commitment, and then helps us work it all out for our good and His glory. I’m glad I ate the mango, folks. I really am. I don’t care if he baited and switched me. No one ever pulled me aside and said, psssst, it’s all g-strings and hot oil now, but later it’s gonna be g-strings, hot oil, and steaming baby turd in a diaper too! SEXY!
God bought me off, and as of April of this year, it will have been seven years since I ate that mango. Know what? I still like mangos.
P.S. I think the church often makes a pisser of a mistake with this gentle dance of God’s erotic trickery. I think they take His lovely little mango and slather it in an extra large portion of festering, chunky, inedible guilt-gravy. I believe that we need to completely rethink how we teach our kiddos about healthy sexuality, guiding them towards a marriage filled with eroticism, instead of shame and guilt. I have seen too many Christian marriages fail, and I’m not even 30 yet. My kids WILL NOT learn about sex from their youth pastor. unless I know that their youth pastor gets some serious freak on with Mr. or Mrs. Youth Pastor.
But that’s another post.