Ah, “Love and Logic,” the parenting protocol based on natural consequences. Where you don’t fight. You don’t negotiate. You don’t even engage in power struggles. You simply allow consequences to occur as they would in real life. Sounds fairly simple. Until it involves the dreaded, delectably delicious cocoa bean.
Seriously, I stumbled into hell on this lesson. My 11 year old son, Levi, was in his school play last week. As a special opening night gift, we gave him one of those ginormous dark chocolate bars that realistically could serve as dessert for a dinner party of 40 people. We’re not usually big fans of food rewards, but we made an exception this time and he was elated.
He carefully gnawed away at it over the week, demonstrating remarkable self control. He never had more than a square at a time, only allowed himself his small portion after meals, and generously shared with all who asked. Everything was going splendidly. Until the other day.
As we were leaving for school, I noticed a hunk of chocolate in his hand. “Not in the morning,” I gently reminded. “O.K.,” he answered. He then proceeded to bite off a chunk of it, his back turned to me, and pretended to return it in its entirety to the fridge. My “Love and Logic” voice kicked in. “Ohhhhhhh…,” I softly murmured. “Bad choice.”
Now my children have learned to dread these types of soothing sighs and understated comments about their choices. They know that when they hear those, the other shoe is surely going to drop, even if they can’t predict when, where or how. Levi started back-pedaling immediately. “What?” he challenged, “I put it back. Come on, mom. What did I do?” Like a well scripted actor, I merely repeated the lines Id been rehearsing for all these months. “Not to worry, sweetie.” And off to school we went.
When I got home later that morning, I knew what had to be done. I also knew that given my affinity for the dark, rich indulgence, this was going to be a challenge. But I powered on, opening the fridge and directly confronting the thick, Belgian, beauty, stoically staring back at me with those wide, innocent squares, and sweetly alluring scent. I cradled it into my arms, my heart filled with as much sorrow as Abraham must have felt on Mount Moriah as he prepared to sacrifice his beloved Isaac. “No,” I lamented as I dropped the edible delicacy unceremoniously into the garbage can. There was no turning back.
No one ever said motherhood was going to be easy. But I never imagined It would test me like this. One can only hope that lessons of this depth will need only to be learned once.