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Two Easy Ways To Screw Up Your Kid

As I mentioned yesterday, we’ve had
our house on the market for a while. We accepted an offer on it a
couple weeks ago and the reality of our leaving New York was
settling in for me that evening as we sat down to a delicious
dinner of leftovers.

“You ok?” Brian asked me.

“I’m just sad,” I replied softly. But apparently
not softly enough.

“What are you sad about, Mommy?” Maddie piped up.

Now, as I’ve said, I don’t believe in lying to our
kids, especially for convenience, but this was a burden I
wasn’t ready to share with her yet. We hadn’t even
discussed the possibility of her leaving the only life she knows
and never coming back yet. So I quickly scanned my mind for
something, and came up with what I thought was a harmless

“I’m sad because you’re
eating macaroni and cheese and I’m having an enchilada, and
your mac ‘n cheese looks good and I wish I had some,” I

Maddie’s face softened and she dug down into her dinner bowl,
holding out a greasy handful of pasta. “Don’t be sad,
Mommy – here you go. I’ll share with you.”

“Thank you puppy,” I said, truly touched.

“Are you not sad anymore?” Maddie asked. “No, I
am not, honey, thanks to you,” I replied.

A big grin broke out on her face. “Now Mommy’s not sad
anymore! I fixed it!”

Uh oh.

Ever since then, she’s brought it up several times,
reminiscing over how Mommy was sad and she made Mommy all happy.
Then a couple days ago, she was sitting quietly at her breakfast.
“You ok, kiddo?” I asked.

“Remember when Bugs Bunny waited for his friends and no one
came and he was the saddest bunny in the whole world?” she
asked, referencing the book we’d read for bed the night
before. “Yes,” I said cautiously.

“Well, when I get bigger, I can fix him and make him not sad
any more.”

“Oh, honey, you don’t have to fix people just because
they’re sad,” I said. “Sometimes nothing you do
will make people happy, and it’s not your job to have to fix
people, ok?”

“Maybe I can give him some carrots. He likes carrots,”
she continued, unreleased from her worry. “He likes to garden
with carrots, and strawberries grow in the garden, so I can give
him carrots and strawberries. Food made you happy, Mommy, maybe it
will make Bugs Bunny happy.”

Great. So not only have I taught my child that unhappy people are
her burden to fix, but I’ve also taught her that food will
make you happy. Two blows for the price of one. I should clearly
quit talking about the subject, but I couldn’t leave it at

“Honey, you have such a big heart and it’s great that
you want to help people be happy. But it’s ok if you
can’t do that. That’s a big burden for such a little
girl, you know. Food won’t really make people happy,

She sat there, troubled, searching her mind for another way to help
her friend Bugs, and lighting on her secret weapon.

“Maybe I could sing to him! I know the ABC Song and Twinkle
Twinkle Little Star. Cora really likes it when I sing to her. I bet
that would make Bugs not be sad.”

“Sweetheart, I can’t imagine a situation that
wouldn’t be made better with a song from you. That’s a
lovely idea.”

She’s got such a big heart, my girl.


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