Thursday, October 28, 2004

What Am I Teaching My Boy?

My son, who turned 3 this week, and I went out shopping this afternoon while my oldest was at school. An employee shouted out "Trick or treat!" as we entered the store. She then proffered a large basket of assorted candy (a gimmick, no doubt, to remind folks that Halloween will be upon us in a few days and we better stock the cupboard for all those little ghosts and goblins - it's a gimmick that worked too, since we left the store with a few bags of the requisite sweets ourselves). I told my son he could pick out a piece and he chose a green, apple-flavored lollipop. We picked a few things on our shopping list and headed back out to the van.

Of course, no sooner had we walked outside when he dropped his sucker on the ground. At home we adhere to the 5 second rule, but in a dirty parking lot, much to his disappointment, the lollipop went straight into the trash. I offered him a small piece of a chocolate from the just purchased hoard as a replacement, which he readily accepted.

As we're pulling out of the parking lot he asked me for a napkin to wipe the melted chocolate from his fingers. I tried telling him just to lick it off (it's chocolate after all!), but he wasn't going for it. "No, Daddy! My hands are dirty! I need napkin!" I figured I couldn't really argue with that, so I passed a napkin back to him.

But I couldn't help thinking... I guess it's good to see that he cares about cleanliness, but at what price? If you can't lick sweet, gooey chocolate off your fingers when you're 3, are you really living an authentic childhood? What am I teaching my boy? Then I remembered him licking the beaters and felt a little better. He's not really missing out, and maybe it's a good thing that he's neat some of the time.

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