Bright sunny day. In the park. With the kids. Ice Cream van. Cones with flake. Yes please Dad!
5 minutes later. “Did you enjoy your ice cream?”
“Yes daddy! Can I have another one?!”
The answer, good middle class parent that I am, is of course ‘no’. But why?
This ‘no’ provokes a negative emotional response. Spoils, in some sense, the moment. It’s received as a totally unloving action by the three year old – and he will not be able to intellectually grasp any rationale for it presented to him.
So, why no second ice cream?
Don’t give me those BS parent answers. I can easily afford it – the change is still rattling in my pocket. One more ice cream is not going to destroy his teeth any more than the first one. Spoil his tea? Ok, maybe, but it’s hardly a total dietary collapse. The second ice cream would certainly be enjoyed. So why not?!
It’s something about not wanting to diminish my son’s capacity for joy.
Over the long haul trying imperfectly to teach him that joy will come not only from the reception of gifts and experiences, but also through the learning of the hard skills of gratitude and contentment.
Recognising that the immediate indulgence of an understandable desire often destroys the very foundation of what we’re trying to build.
Difficult to teach the 3 year old, when this 33 year old still throws his tantrums over his ever-so-pressing-and-understandable requests not being instantly answered by his Father.
Today: Gratitude and contentment.
You’ve had your ice cream.
Say thank you.
Enjoyment is still at hand.
Philippians 4:11-12 if you need a verse.