The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Chocolate Sauce

It all started with some chocolate cake. Crumbs, actually.

My eight-year-old daughter wanted to lick them off the plate, and said, “You’re just like that mom in that book: You’re Driving Me Crazy: Children’s Comments About Their Parents, who said, ‘my mom never lets me lick my plate, even if it’s chocolate sauce!’”

I started to think about chocolate sauce on a plate, and how much I used to love the thick, gooey texture of it. I decided that it would be OK for the kids to use their fingers to scoop up the chocolate frosting and crumbs with their spatula-like digits and lick them clean, but not from the plate. I chose this despite the alarm bells ringing in my head that my mother would definitely NOT approve. I watched them gleefully scraping, and licking and I recalled that this was one of life’s great pleasures.

I also remembered that my mother would be coming to visit soon. So I said to my daughter, “One day, and I will tell you when, you will be too old to lick the chocolate crumbs from your fingers.”

She groaned in complaint. I said, “One day. Not today.” Then I pulled the authority card. “You know, I am the mom.”

She said, “So?!?” She has reached the stage where she thinks a lot about how things get decided. She is not so keen on the authority model of decision making, but this doesn’t bother me, as I was the same way.

I went on. “And since I am the mom, I can decide when you are too old to lick your fingers.”

She groaned again, and then I said, smirking, “You know, I could make that day tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?!” she yelped.

“Tomorrow?!” chimed in her little brother, our five-year-old negotiator. “No you can’t,” he said sticking his chin out.

Well boundary testing is normal, and healthy, and necessary, I think, for people to grow up and respect rules with an understanding of why they are following them. This conversation was in good fun, until I bragged about my authority. Even though I was joking, and smiling, they still understood that I was throwing my weight around unnecessarily. They understood that I had crossed a line.

My son is at the age and of the temperament that he will go the distance for something he believes in, and chocolate frosting was a worthy cause. I cocked my head and looked at him. He looked back. We were gauging each other’s intent.

Was this going to be a fight?

I thought about what I was trying to do here. I was attempting to help them understand that rules are not always black and white: that some privileges have expiration dates. I was also trying to establish that as the mom, I would be the best judge of when something was no longer appropriate -- but I made a mistake in implying that I could do it because I had authority, as opposed to good judgment.

My son took my attitude of, “I can make you” and threw it right back at me. He does this with almost every stance I take with him.

We call him the boomerang.

I knew I didn’t want to press the authoritarian, and I did not want to back down. So I employed that famously useful parenting tool.

I changed the subject.

As I was staring at him, and he at me, I said, holding back a laugh, “You know, I can sit on you.”

He cracked up and said, “I can sit on you, too.”

“No, you can’t.”

“Yes, I can.”

Then I thought -- technically he was capable of sitting on me. So I said, “You’re right. You’re actually right. You could sit on me.”

He beamed, and that was that. No more fighting because I had given him something to be right about.

Oh, this parenting thing, it is a daredevil’s sport.

By Lianna McSwain


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