A Lesson in Choices

They say, “Be careful what you wish for,” right?  What would you say if you had the choice to eat only candy all day, or eat only regular food for the day?

Well, my high-spirited husband spontaneously decided to pose this dilemma to our three daughters last week.  I listened intently from the bedroom as the commotion ensued.

“What would you rather have- only candy for the rest of the day?  Or only real food and no candy? Once you choose you can’t go back.”  he told them, as I thought, “What is he, crazy?  What in the world…? ” from the other room.

But it was too late to run in and try to get him to think about the territory into which he stepped.  I had to stand aside and let the situation play out.

You see, my oldest daughter HipChick (9) figured out right away that she would rather have food than candy, so the decision was easy for her.  My youngest (4)  perked up at first at the thought of candy for breakfast, but taking cues from her eldest sister, she decided that real food would be best.

My middle child, Princess (6) is kind of a different animal. She’s pretty impulsive and is sometimes confused by the correlation between actions and consequences.  She’s also a dreamer, which can be a great thing!  However, at this point in time, her dreams of mountains of candy all day invaded her mind and crowded out all sense of reason.

She chose the candy.  Nothing but candy.  All day.

Princess grinned through breakfast as her sisters ate cereal, while she chomped on her Smarties.  Literally 10 minutes Children Choiceslater, Princess realized she was still hungry.  But after getting her instand candy gratification, she realized she needed a real breakfast.

“Well, darling, you chose the candy, so you can have more candy if you want.”

“But I want cereal, now.  I’m hungry.”

“I gave you a choice.  Your sisters chose breakfast, and you chose candy.  You knew you’d have to eat candy for the rest of the day.”

Oh, boy, the fury of tears and desperate pleas after this exchange were painful for me to hear. I started out silently challenging my husband, “You’ve really done it this time….”

“I’M STARVING!  IT’S NOT FAIR!  MY DADDY WON’T LET ME EAT!!!!!” {sobbing}

Every time he would reason with her about her choice, she would start screaming, ” I wanted candy, but now I want FOOD! IT’S NOT FAIR!! YOU’RE MEAN!” {more sobbing}

I wondered  how in the world this was going to end. What had started out as a fun experiment was looking like a train wreck.  As long as she defiantly refused to admit she made the wrong choice, Judd was firm.  She had to live with her choice.

As the situation continued, I realized how wise (if impulsive) my husband was. You see, Princess admittedly has a disconnect between choices and consequences, so this lesson is essential for her to learn.  But oh, how hard it was to listen to the manifestations of her regret.

She came crying to me, and I hugged her.  “Mommy, Daddy won’t feed me….”  {crocodile tears and some extra drama} So I tried to explain to her that Daddy wasn’t doing this TO her, but that she had made a bad choice. She was feeling the pain of her bad choice, and it wasn’t anyone else’s fault.  I saw the realization in her eyes, but she wasn’t going to admit it.  Apparently, she inherited stubbornness from one of us. (ahem)

I tried to throw her a rescue line, “Sweetie, here’s what you need to do: admit that you made a bad choice, and confess to daddy that you were wrong.” After a split second of considering it, she broke my hug and ran away to put on a great show of sobbing in her room.

The second time she tried to come garner my sympathy, I hugged her tight and repeated my advice.  This time, humility entered into her psyche and she sheepishly took the direction. ” Go tell daddy you’re sorry for making the wrong choice and ask if you can have another chance to do the right thing.”

It was beautiful, hearing that exchange, “Daddy, I’m sorry I chose the wrong thing.  I really wanted candy for breakfast, but I didn’t think about the rest of the day. Will you forgive me?” And I really think God’s blanket of healing descended upon Princess’ heart that day.  She has been different ever since, realizing she has control over how she chooses to react to things.  There have been a few struggles, but they last a lot shorter than they use to!

And as I write this, I can’t help but think: Even with my Father in Heaven, haven’t I chosen “candy” over “food,” and felt the consequences?  Have I ever shaken my fist at Him and said “this isn’t fair,” when it was MY choice  that hurt me?

Have you?

I shared this at Nicole Wick’s “Your Best Blog Now”