I remember saying those words to my kids after I’d already told them multiple times that the answer was no. I guess they thought that if they asked again and again and then maybe one more time, the answer would change. You probably recognize the words. I think they’re on some unofficial list of things parents are supposed to say. And I knew full well they were trite and over used, and I didn’t like hearing myself say the words, but I said them anyway. My kids didn’t like them either, probably because they had a finality to them. Consequently, I was the meanest mother in the world they let me know. Disciplining can be hard on both parents and kids.
What about SELF-discipline? It’s six-thirty a.m. and I’m not sure why I woke up this early, but after messing around on my computer for a while I’ve come into the kitchen and have opened the pantry door to survey its contents, a bad habit. There, before my eyes, is the plastic container of cashews. A few years ago when the kids were all home I didn’t have these kinds of temptations. Anything resembling a treat would disappear within seconds. Now my husband and I are the only ones who eat the goodies and treats, and we did just that during the holidays. Oh yeah, we overindulged hideously. I don’t know about him, but I felt like a bloated Hereford afterwards. Thank goodness New Year’s and its resolutions come after Christmas. Since the first of the year I’ve been trying hard to do better. In fact, I’ve been really good. But now I’m ready to cheat a little. I really want just a few of these cashews.
No, I say to myself maybe because I know that if I take a few this early I will be eating cashews all day long. Don’t do it! And miraculously I don’t. I back away from the pantry and move toward the cupboard, get a cup, open the fridge, and pour myself some milk. But two minutes later I’ve opened the pantry door and I’m staring at those cashews again. There are some cake mixes next to the container, including a box of fudge brownie mix. It could be worse, I tell myself. At least I’m not making brownies and having them for breakfast like I did once. Cashews are a lot better for me than fudge brownies! Or fudge, I add, because yes, during the holidays I even ate fudge for breakfast. Cashews aren’t that bad for you, I continue, not letting it go. It’s not like I’m going to eat them by the handful. I’m just having a few. I deserve a treat after being so good these last few days. And that’s when I hear the words. My own voice from the past bounces and echoes against the sides of my brain. You already told yourself no. WHAT PART OF NO DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?