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Check Out This Sweet Parenting!

, , , , , , , | Related | June 1, 2021

My mum was a firm believer in treats, but only in the right places; she didn’t want me to associate treats like sweets or chocolates with the wrong places, in case I started demanding them.

When I was two, my aunt and my cousin visited us from Australia for a couple of weeks. While they were staying, my aunt would do the shopping to give Mum a rest, and she would take my cousin and me with her.

My cousin is about five years older than me and apparently quite demanding. He would demand a chocolate bar from the display at the till, and if he didn’t get one, he would throw a tantrum. My aunt would give in and get him one, and so I wasn’t left out, I got one as well.

This was the first shopping trip Mum and I went on after our family returned to Australia. All was fine until we got to the checkout and I saw the display of chocolate bars. I pointed at them and asked for one.

Mum: “Not now. You can have one later after tea.”

I threw a tantrum. It involved me screaming, sobbing, and generally being a very annoying and very loud little snot. The queue was quite long, and it took a while for us to get served. In all that time, there was no let-up in screaming.

Mum felt like giving in. Even with the ear-splitting shrieks I was emitting, she could still hear a lot of tuts and “what a bad mother” comments from other shoppers to each other in the queue. She did come close to it, thinking it would be so easy to do so, but she told herself that if she gave in now, it would be harder next time.

In the end, she had to drag me kicking and screaming out the door. That wasn’t a turn of phrase, as by that time I had thrown myself onto the ground, having apparently decided to move onto the next level of toddler tantrum.

I don’t know how she managed it, but Mum did manage to get me to stop without giving in. I’m guessing I just screamed myself to exhaustion and gave up.

One week later, we were back in the shop at the checkout. I pointed to the chocolate bars and asked. Mum said, “No,” and just as my lips started to quiver and it looked like I was about to have another temper tantrum:

Mum: *Sternly* “Don’t even think about it.” 

It worked, as I didn’t have that chocolate bar tantrum. Not then, not ever. 

A year or so later, we were at the checkout. My new little sister was in her buggy, Mum was packing the bags, and I was looking at the chocolate bars. I’d started to recognise words, so I was telling Mum what all the various chocolate bars are. The customer behind us spoke up.

Customer: “You’re going to have trouble getting him away from them.”

Mum: “We’ll see.” *Finishing up and turning to me* “Come on, time to go”

I left the chocolates and walked out the shop with Mum and Sis, leaving a very surprised customer behind. 

Fast forward about eighteen or so years. I’m visiting my parents during one of my university holidays. Mum has just finished telling me about all of the above, as I was too little at the time to remember it. 

Me: “So that’s why!” 

Mum: “What do you mean?” 

Me: “All these years, I’ve always felt deep down that it was wrong to buy chocolate bars from the checkout display. I never knew why; I just felt it was wrong. Even when I was working at a supermarket, it just seemed wrong. Now I know why; it’s because of that tantrum!” 

Mum: “Well, the lesson certainly stuck!”

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