My youngest daughter had a really rough day.
She left her school folder at home, and so didn't get to turn in the homework that she'd worked so hard to finish. I took pity and delivered it to school, but for some reason the folder didn't make it back to her classroom. She has a long term sub, so the classroom routine has been upturned. Ants invaded the lunch box bucket, rendering her lunch inedible. For some odd reason the other kids blamed her for the ants and teased her for the rest of the day. As she didn't eat anything at lunch time, by the time she got home she was exhausted and emotional.
We snuggled for a long while, and then came the question that I had been expecting.
"Mom, can we go to Starbucks for a treat?"
She asked again as I was getting ready to go pick her sister up from an after school activity. I smiled at her and said, "Honey, I am not going to give you food that's going to make you feel not so good when you're already having a hard day."
She tried again when I got home.
"Mom, can we bake something? That would make me feel better."
This time, I simply said, "No."
No we can't, sweetheart.
The fact is, it's my natural inclination to go running for food for even the slightest of excuses. I WANT to give my girls food to make them feel better. I want to 'treat' them. It's how I was raised. It's what I do. Rough day at school or work? Go out to dinner. Not feeling so good? Junk food of just about any sort helps that. Saturday? Bake. Bored? Broken-hearted? Tired? Sad? Happy? Excited? Celebratory? Food...food...food...you get the idea.
But no more. It is time to change this family's story because I don't want my sweet girls to rely on food as an emotional crutch. I want them to grow up with healthy bodies and healthy attitudes. I want them to have it better than I did.
And so...it's time I learned how to say...No.
No, sweetheart, because I love you.