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Guess I Need To Be More Specific

A couple days ago Maddie found her
Halloween goodie bag from where I’d hidden it a few months
ago. It still had lots of candy in it that I’d intended to
eat as soon as I’d whisked it away, which I clearly forgot to
do. Madeleine was delighted to see all the candy to play with and
has spent a couple days simply unwrapping candies and smelling
them; she’s never eaten lollipops or hard candies (choking
fear on Mommy’s part) and is happy just to sniff them.

I thought the same was true for the chocolates.

But this morning Maddie asked for her bag
and began digging through the goodies. I got distracted with the
baby and some phone calls and turned back to her five minutes later
to see her mouth ringed with chocolate and foil wrapping shredded
next to her. Astonished, I said to her, “Maddie, did you eat
that chocolate?”

“Well –“ she began with that famous evasive word
– “not all of it.”

“Madeleine, didn’t I tell you not to eat the chocolate
in that bag?”

“No,” she said decisively and cheerfully. “No,
you didn’t. Not today.”

And she was absolutely right.

“Ok, Maddie, look. You may NEVER eat a treat or sweets or
snacks without first asking me or Daddy. This is true for all food,
but especially treats or food given to you by other people.

“Ok. May I have my Halloween bag back?”

This seemed too easy. I was instantly suspicious.

“You may have one piece back, but only until Naomi comes over
in a few minutes. Then it gets thrown away. Ok? And you may not eat
or bite or nibble or put any of it in your mouth. Ok?”

The deal was brokered, her face washed, and Maddie took off with
her candy while I finished my business phone calls. A few minutes
later, though, I became suspicious of the silence and called out,
“Maddie, where are you?”

“In your bedroom.”

“Come out please.”

I see a face peek around the door, once again smeared with

“Madeleine, did you eat that other chocolate you were

A beat of comic timing that any working actor would’ve
envied, then Maddie gestured with her fingers and said charmingly,
“A little bit.”

After I’d turned away, laughed where she couldn’t see
me, and gotten myself under control, I summoned her in front of me.
Good-naturedly Maddie handed over the offending candy, which was
still nearly intact but for one melted corner. “Look, Mommy,
I didn’t bite it. I just licked it a bit.”

I lectured and cleaned up, which Maddie accepted with good grace.
She knew she’d stepped beyond the bounds and clearly
considered the consequences – a complete loss of any further
access to the candy bag – worth the price. After all,
she’d had almost two pieces of chocolate in one morning, when
she usually gets perhaps one piece a month. As for me, I learned
I’ve got to be specific.

Lord save me from a child with a sophisticated understanding of the
finer nuances of the English language.


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