For example, when I'm doling out cupcakes, spoons, candy, socks, plates, or anything that could possibly result in the comment "But I wanted that one!!", I respond with "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit." One day, about three or four months ago, I sent Avery out to the garage fridge to get me a diet Coke. She brought me a regular Coke instead. (You know where this is going, don't you?) I said, "Oh, thank you baby, but that's a regular Coke and Mommy wanted a diet Coke." Her response? Yep, you guessed it, but her version goes "What you get what you get and you don't throw a fit." Yikes. Ok, we don't talk to grown ups like that, but yikes.
Also, when I was pregnant with Rhett, I would sometimes take more than my share of the cookies, cupcakes or brownies. When she would frown and say "How come you get two?" I would respond "This one is for Baby Rhett. He's hungry in my tummy." One day, soon after she started a new Sunday School class, we were eating dessert and she asked for another serving. I told her that too much sugar isn't good for her and that was plenty for now. She very sweetly said "But Momma, Jesus is in my heart and he's hungry in there." Man, this kid is getting good.
There have been other instances where I feel like I'm listening to a tape recorder of myself. "I'm so a-zausted, I'll just clean it later" or "I just really need some time to myself right now, so can't Reese just take a bath by herself?" The latest, "I certainly did not do that." And my personal favorite, "Mom, these kids are driving me crazy, so can you guys just go in the other room and let me watch my show?"
And then, last night, I made a dinner that no self-respecting four-year-old would enjoy. I always make our kids eat what we eat because, as I like to point out to anyone who will listen, I'm not a short order cook. Tonight's dinner was tough, though. It involved fish, Mediterranean veggies and rice. I made the kids at least try a bite before I gave in and heated up some leftovers for them. But still, Avery wouldn't eat. I told her to eat in a pleasant voice. I told her in a firm voice. I told her in an exasperated voice. I threw out the "no dessert" comment. Finally, I just picked up her plate, cleaned it off and said "I'm over it, Avery. I'm cleaning the kitchen and you've had plenty of time to eat, so you're finished. And no dessert, for sure." Her response actually might have made me smile if I wasn't worn out from the dinnertime battle. "Mom? Does Jesus like it when moms are mean and say stuff and just boss their kids like that?" I gave the old, "spare the rod, spoil the child" line from the Bible and said "Let me tell you what. God gave you to me and it's my job to turn you in to a decent human being, no matter what it takes." She stared at me blankly for a minute (I'm not sure she even knows what the Bible is exactly, and I know she doesn't understand the whole Jesus/God relationship) and said "Mom, I mean Jesus. I'm not talking to you about God. I think you hurt Jesus' heart when you make me sad."
Obviously, she was sent to her room. And she didn't get dessert or snacks or anything else. But let's think about this, folks. She's only four. There isn't enough Gingko Biloba out there to keep my brain sharp enough for what she has in store for me.