My daughter and I were shopping at T@rget on Friday afternoon before we picked up my son from school. We just needed a couple of things, and as we were checking out Miss M asked for a treat (aka candy).
What's every mom's first answer to that question? "Not now, honey." And let the begging begin....
Admittedly, I'm a PA* mom, so there's more than just the sugary-high-followed-by-crash to be concerned about. A lot of the check-out aisle candy contains peanuts or is potentially cross-contaminated. So I moved on to my next tactic - I offered to give Miss M a snack at home, trying to talk it up by mentioning that she could have snack time with her big brother. I am not winning....
There's another little girl with her mom ahead of us in the checkout line. Of course, they are overhearing the entire conversation I'm having with Miss M - including the whiny parts and the 'no-you-may-not-have-candy' parts. I noticed that the little girl ahead of us did get to pick out a sweet treat, that she whispered something to her mother, and that she walked back to the candy display to select another sweet treat. Her mother paid for their items and handed one of the treats to the little girl. The little girl then turned around and handed it to my daughter and said, "I heard you asking for some candy."
Along with expressing our appreciation of the little girl's generosity, the PA mom panic was setting in and I was feeling a couple of other emotions, too:
a - Put in my place by a little girl who sees the joy in a little surprise treat every once in a while.
b - Split second decision of whether or not I should decline the candy, explaining my daughter's allergies, and thereby squash this little girl's sweet, loving, giving spirit?
c - Do I let Miss M accept the treat, allowing my daughter the joy of receiving the gift, and also allowing her to learn from the example set by the other little girl?
d - WARNING! WARNING! POTENTIAL PEANUT CONTAMINATION! WARNING! WARNING!
And my responses to all of that panic?
a - Have I mentioned that Miss M's love language is gifts?
b - Um, no. There will be no squashing of sweet little girls hearts today.
c - Well, yes - but will read the label once we get to the mommy-van and I'll deal with any tears (if it's not a safe treat) once we are in the relative privacy of the vehicle.
d - That is no joke, y'all - it's like there ought to be flashing caution lights, too. I really don't think I'm hypervigilant - I can't tell you how much candy is off limits to someone with a peanut allergy.
We paid for our purchases and walked back to the mommy-van, Miss M holding on to her newly-gifted treat. As we were across the parking lot, Miss M asked me, "Does it have nuts?" You can't imagine how tight I wanted to squeeze my sweet girl right then. I am so proud of how much more aware of her allergies she has become in the last few months, and I was super proud to know that her excitement over this unexpected gift didn't lessen her vigilance.
As it turned out, it was a safe treat - mommy's anxiety melted away, Miss M's happiness multiplied even more, and I realized I could probably learn a big lesson from a generous little girl who was in line with us at T@rget.