My oldest boy and I have both a deep understanding and a chasm of misunderstanding. God planned it this way. Nicholas is fearless. I'm wracked with anxiety. I demand order. He craves adventure. He is intensely emotional, like his mother, and yet cold and distant, like his father, when he's having issues. To help us survive and thrive, we have a long-established tradition called "quiet time." Each night, after stories, I spend time with him chatting with him about his day, life, philosophy, math (much to my chagrin), science, relationships, everything, nothing, whatever it may be. Tonight the topic at hand was of his choosing. He was pissed. I didn't let him have a popsicle. I had my reasons. They will unfold. I asked him to put aside the issue at hand briefly and asked him to recite with me a question and response that we repeat to each other almost daily. It goes like this.
Mom: "Nicholas, what is all that you can ask of this life?"
Nick: "To live long and to live happily"
Mom: "Nicholas, how does one live long?"
Nick: "Eat right and exercise."
Mom: "And how do you live happily?"
Nick: "Try to focus more on the good things in your life and not think so much about the ones that make you sad."
Tonight, the conversation afterward followed thus:
Mom: "Nick, what do I mean when I say you should eat right?"
Nick: "Eat healthy stuff."
Mom: "Like popsicles."
Nick: "No. Not popsicles. Healthy food."
Mom: "Healthy food? Name some healthy food."
Mom: "And I fixed broccoli for dinner. Did you eat it?"
Mom: "How many juices did you have today, Nicholas?"
(*NOTE* I'm pscyho about juice. I hate it. I allow the kids to have 1 a day. It's sugar water and devoid of any nutrients that could not be derived from a piece of actual fruit or a vegetable. I allowed it because I'm not a Nazi, and I believe in moderation. The kids know I'm a weirdo with regard to this topic. Today, Samuel John was sick, and in interest of the peace, everybody had juice, and tv, and video games, and all kinds of trash that I don't usually allow.)
Nick: "At least four"
Mom: "Is that healthy?"
Mom: "So... you didn't eat the broccoli. And then you had four juices. And then you wanted a popsicle. Does your Mommy want you to live long and healthy? Or does your Mommy want you to be fat, sad, depressed, tired, and die early?"
Mom: "So, did Mom say no to a popsicle to be mean? or because she loves you?"
Nick: "Tomorrow, I'm not going to have any juice! I'm going to eat broccoli!"
Mom: "One a day is fine, baby. We just have to use moderation. I'm so proud of you for figuring this all out yourself. You're such a smart boy!"
Nick: "I had fun on the kayak with Dad today..." bla bla bla, etc. etc. etc.
I was pretty proud of this conversation. I love that complicated little guy. He's such a hoot!