This week, the Monday Blog Game takes a look at Candy.
I admit to a weakness for candy in all its various shapes and forms. When it comes to candy and stories, however, the one that stands out most in my mind doesn’t actually involve any candy at all.
Read on and see why:
When my son was two years old I took him to visit my father on weekends. Dad lived 20 minutes from us, with a big backyard where my son could run and play. Dad also loved Jack-in-the-Box cheeseburgers, so I usually picked up lunch on the way.
On the day in question, Dad and I sat at the patio table and talked over lunch while my son orbited the yard like a hyperactive moon, returning for a bite or two of his burger or a rapidly-cooling fry between circuits.
That summer Dad supplemented his backyard tomato garden with three serrano chile plants. By midsummer the plants had matured, and their skinny arms sported a tantalizing assortment of brilliant red fruit. Fruit that looked an awful lot like candy.
My son noticed the peppers and raced to the table. He pointed. “Want those.”
“No, you don’t,” Dad said. “Those are serrano chiles. Very hot.”
My son’s lip quivered. “I want one.”
“No,” I said. “They’re hot.”
“Too hot,” Dad added, “they’d burn your mouth like fire.”
But my independent son had made up his mind. He must have a chile, and have it now, and since we refused he escalated negotiations. In other words, he threw a Great Big Fit. His face screwed up, his lip quivered, and his little hands bunched at his sides. It was a Perfect Storm in the making, and I estimated I had about five seconds before the screaming started.
I’d seen these fits before (though only rarely). Distraction wouldn’t work and we’d already explained that this wasn’t candy. So much for reasoning – and so much for a quiet afternoon.
Dad offered real candy and even an ice cream from the fridge. No dice. That kid wanted a pepper, and if he couldn’t have a pepper he’d have a fit instead.
And then, just moments before the storm, I had an idea.
“Okay,” I said, “but only one.”
My father looked as though I’d lost my mind.
My son’s anger instantly transformed to a brilliant smile. “Okay,” he said, “just one.”
“You won’t like it,” I warned him. “It’s hot. It will burn your mouth. It’s yucky.”
“Susan, you can’t let him do that.” Dad could not believe what I’d just done.
“It’s a lasting lesson,” I said, as my son decided which pepper to pick. “It won’t kill him, or make him sick, and otherwise we’ll be going through this every single time he sees that plant.”
At that moment my son picked a one-inch pepper, popped it into his mouth, and chewed.
I looked at Dad and counted. “One, two, three.”
On cue, my son opened his mouth and removed the pepper – still almost completely whole, though with a set of teeth marks imprinted in the surface. He shook his head, lip quivering. “I don’t like it.”
And then he began to cry.
I handed him his milkshake (which I’d already picked up in anticipation of the inevitable tears) and watched him take a very large swallow. The crying stopped. Dad raced to the kitchen and returned with a handful of salt, but the tears and the lesson were already over.
Never again did my son insist on eating something I told him he wouldn’t like. In fact, for almost a year he reacted to every new food by looking at me and asking, “Do I like this? Is it … hot?”
Every new food…including real candy.
Fool him once … shame on him. But no pepper in candy’s clothing has ever fooled him again.
*The “rules” for the Monday Blog Game are simple – Everyone is invited to play along, and I hope you do! Here’s how: Write something about the weekly topic, either in the comments here or on your blog (if you write on your own blog, link back or comment so we know how to find you!)
And now for some others playing the Monday blog game:
Julianne Douglas shares some history about A Spoonful of Sugar
C.V. Perkins of The DeAubrey Digest has a great story about Snickers & Pepsi.