Is it fair to punish your children for committing the very same crimes you committed as a child? Wouldn’t that make you the very worst of sinners…a hypocrite? Or, as a parent and the ultimate role model, guide and police person for your child, do you simply keep your secrets secret and apply the strong arm of the law regardless? Hard liners would also argue that if your child shares your weakness, then you really need to be firm and stamp out that undesirable behavior to help them overcome their genetic heritage.
I confess that I’m a bit stumped and am not really sure how to proceed.
You see, my child is guilty of stealing. Not from the local shop or anything sinister like that. My son has been sneaking chocolate biscuits out of the pantry. Actually, his sister has too. That means both my children are thieves and if I followed the letter of the law, they would both be condemned… sentenced to time out for the term of their natural lives. Convicts were sent to Australia for far lesser crimes such as stealing a loaf of bread. My kids are eating my Tim Tams and that should be a capital offense… if only I wasn’t going to be heading to the gallows with them!!
Although it is my house and I paid for the Tim Tams, I shouldn’t be eating them either. The Tim Tams with all their layers of chocolate temptation might be masquerading as my very best friends understanding my deepest and most crushing emotional needs, but I know better. They are not friends at all. They are the serpent in the Garden of Eden looking ever so good but are trying to lead me astray.
That said, I’m not saying that I can’t eat Tim Tams all. Moderation is fine. They are a sometimes food and if I can only be strong and keep that sometimes sometimes, I can have my Tim Tam and eat it too. That’s one Tim Tam…not two, three or even the entire packet. Tim Tams are very, very hard to resist especially when they get a little warm in summer and the chocolate gets a bit melty and they just squish in your mouth. Hmm!
For the initiated, there is also the Tim Tam explosion where you dip your Tim Tam in your coffee and use it as a straw and the whole thing becomes so gooey, chocolatey and irresistible just before it drops into your mug.
Anyway, I’ve deviated again. I was supposed to be talking about my antics as a child although I guess you can see that maturity hasn’t cured my chocolate tooth.
When I was growing up and particularly when I was in high school at an age when I really did know better, I used to “find” my mother’s chocolate stash and eat whatever I’d found. These weren’t just a few squares of Cadbury Dairy Milk either. Mum used to buy these special hazelnut clusters from the cafe made from special, dark chocolate. There were also Ferrero Rochers. I also remember sneaking Nutella by the spoonful out of the fridge. I was a bad, bad girl and as you can see, I’m still not sorry!
As a teenager, I never considered my mother’s feelings at all!! I’d found the chocolates, they were mine. All mine! I didn’t consider that maybe she’d felt like a chocolate with her cup of tea before she went to bed. It never crossed my mind that she might need an emotional pick-me-up at the end of her day? Oh no! Mum and I were waging a war. She wanted me to lose weight and I only had eyes for chocolate. This was more than a game of cat and mouse. It was a battle. In her efforts to outmaneuver me, Mum found new places or hidey holes to hide her stash. However, she often forgot where she’d put it and I found it first. You see, I had great perseverance!
I must tell you that all this writing about chocolate hasn’t been good for my resolve. I’ve just indulged in a Ferrero Rocher. They are just magic!
So if I am a chocolate thief from way back, am I in a position to punish my children for the very same crime? I don’t want my kids to believe they can get away with stealing but I find it difficult to punish them.
I have considered not having any chocolate or lollies in the house. This is one approach to the problem but that isn’t teaching them restraint or manners. I would let them have the occasional Tim Tam but not every day and not before school. I also believe that it’s important for the kids to understand boundaries and that other members of the family, even their mother, have needs too that need to be respected. Letting them get away with stealing the chocolate isn’t teaching them that.
That said, what is getting away with it? I’ve told them off but I couldn’t think about what to put in time out and I doubt the kids would have gone into time out. They usually don’t do what I say. I have also been really tired lately. My prednisone dosage dropped down to 15mg this week, which is great news but my artificial energy source has gone and after being so pumped up, I am feeling particularly flat. It is hard to follow through with the kids when I just feel like going to sleep.
I have a very good book called The Giving Tree by Shel Silberstein and I read that to them the other night and at least our daughter got it. The little boy keeps taking from the tree until there is nothing left. This is a story with no happy ending. The tree dies. I explained to the kids that they can’t take and take and take until Mummy and Daddy have nothing left. It applies to Tim Tams but it also applies to love. As parents, we need to feel loved and a bit spoilt by our kids just like they need to be loved and feel loved by us. When we are giving them so much, it is so easy to feel drained and our love tanks need to be topped up too. We can’t run on empty.
It is up to us as parents to put some boundaries in place so that we actually have something left for ourselves but as our kids get older, they also need to put other members of the family first at times and be considerate, decent human beings who will be valued, considerate members of our community.
For better or worse, that begins at home although I’m still not really sure how to tackle the chocolate. Any ideas?