A woman came into the gift shop with her son today. He must have been about two years old and a terrible two year old at that. He was pouting from the moment he entered, stomping his feet, and muttering incomprehensible tones that eventually became screams. As his mother walked around the store, he found his way to the register. His little head could barely see over the counter-top but with great determination he stood on his tippey-toes and spotted our candy display. That was it.
He narrowed his vision in on the suckers and started screaming, “CANDY!!! CANDY!!! I want CANDY!” It was not the sweet and classic song of 1960’s “I want candy,” it was a fit of rage and indignation. To my surprise, his mother continued browsing, unaffected by the temper tantrum that was taking place just a few feet away from me. I convinced myself, if I didn’t look into his eyes maybe it wasn’t thaaat bad. But it was bad. I knew it. I wonder if he did.
“Quit looking like a sad puppy dog,” his mother remarked. ” We will eat later when we pick up your sister.”
The anger of the small boy did not waver the slightest at her comment. He began to cry and follow his mother around, tugging at her sweater. I thought she would yell at him or scold him for acting out. Maybe she would give in? Instead, she lowered herself and knelt on the floor so that they were at eye level. She gently grasped a hold of him so that he could gaze into her motherly eyes and in a matter of fact kind of way she said,
“I love you very much but no.”
The little boy cried harder and instead of console him, his mother dusted her hands of the incident and told him it was a shame that he had spoiled his own time by crying and by being angry.
Enough is enough, she sighed, and announced that she was leaving. I was shocked when she actually did.
The little boy returned to the register where the suckers were. We had a mini stare-off and I told him he better leave before she drove away. He cried some more and stomped his way out the door.
What his mother had said stuck with me. It seemed like a great tag-line in life for those situations when you want to give in, especially to someone you love, but you know you can’t.
I love you, but no.