You never know what is going to happen at your local Aldis. (Though mine is only 30 miles away, it’s not particularly local but it is the closest one and the only one in the area.) The visit before last, I was mistaken for an unfortunate girl named Whitney. (She would have to be unfortunate to look very much like me.) The visit before that, I overheard an old soldier who had been a cook during the Vietnam War hand out trade secrets to the woman standing next to him. (Too bad I didn’t exactly hear what they were.) It was on my last visit though, I saw a sight that would make anybody take a few seconds to wonder. A small family had been wandering through the aisles getting their groceries, nothing unusual there. The two parents (who were not featherweights themselves) were keeping an eye on their little girl, who was toeing the line for morbid obesity for a three year old. When they reached the special purchases section, she noticed a canister of cotton candy, went right up to it, and picked it up. I could just imagine the conversation her parents had silently.
Sweetie Pie, our little muffin wants cotton candy.
Honey Bun, the doctors said that we should watch her diet closely.
I don’t think we’ve been doing too bad, we only bought two bags of chips and one twelve pack of pop.
She doesn’t really need it though. It’s not a fruit or vegetable.
I can’t tell her that she can’t have it. She’ll hate me.
I can’t tell her no either, she never listens to me anyway.
There’s probably no harm in letting her have this canister of cotton candy anyway.
Unsurprisingly, the little girl carried that canister of cotton candy with her throughout the rest of the store, until she got tired of it, in which case her mother carried it for her while she up and got something else. If that little girl, at the age of three, has her parents wrapped around her fingers like that, there is no telling if she’ll grow up to be more of an Augustus Gloop or a Veruca Salt. The real problem is that neither of her parents know how to mean it when they say the word no.
What would the world be like if God always said ‘yes’ and never said ‘no’? I can’t imagine that picture, but I bet it would take a thousand ugly words to describe it. We do need limits and somebody to enforce those limits. Otherwise we would closely resemble the lawless corners of the world where life has no meaning but to suffer. It might hurt to be told no and have the things we want taken away from us, but in the long run, it will hurt a whole lot more to not be told no and allowed to keep whatever we want so long as it buys us temporary happiness. Comfort food should not be a substitute for a parent’s love, as if love could be bought for $3.99. Love your children enough to tell them no and mean it, you’ll save yourself from a world of trouble.