Forbidden

When my daughter was a toddler she developed a fascination with Band-Aids.

Every scrape, bump or tumble required attention. In response I bought a couple of boxes of character Band-Aids, like Elmo and Hello Kitty and put them in a cupboard in the kitchen where she could reach them. Anytime she felt the need, she could help herself, unrestricted.

This worked so fabulously to lessen the attraction that I deliberately tried the same with sweets. She had (and still has) a treat box in the kitchen with whatever candy she is into at the moment. Sometimes its Twizzlers or Now & Later, sometimes its Kit-Kats or Twix, lately its Dove moments. She has free access to sweets at all times, and knows she can have a dessert every single day. There is no forbidden food, just food with or without nutrition.

The result of this seeming insanity is that she doesn’t act greedy with treats. She can stop eating when she has had enough cake. She can put down half a cookie. The jury is still out, but it is possible I have succeeded in not passing on my food compulsion. On the other hand it may just be her personality. Other parents hearing about this policy look aghast and insist it would never work with their children.

Her newest fascination, now that Band-Aids and candy have been demystified, are smelly soaps and lotions from a body store at the mall. This phase will require some stamina. I have to remember to add fortitude to my parenting logic model.

She has a collection of a dozen hand lotions each smellier than the last, and half a dozen kinds of body washes and hand sanitizers. The clash of fruits, flowers and foods is stunning. S’Mores and Fresh Baked Cookies are but two examples. I tried to gently explain how using the same wash and lotion layered your scent and she gleefully replied that she liked smelling like two or three kinds at the same time.

I would love to forbid her spending her babysitting money on yet another flavor of lotion, but I will stick with my system of benign acceptance and hope she settles on a “signature scent” very soon. It may be that its the shopping and buying she really likes, in which case there could be worse choices.

I am not sure how much longer the self-regulating/not forbidden system will apply as she encounters more complex choices as a teenager. I am hoping all that work and attention during the toddler years laid some kind of parenting foundation we can lean on in the future.

For the time being, I just smile and breath through my mouth.

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