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Home » Hot Topic, Toddler

A Parenting Dilemma – A Difficult Decision

Submitted by on Tuesday, 18 November 200811 Comments

Every so often (and sometimes more often than not) I find myself in an awkward parenting moment.  I had one of those moments today, and I faced a dilemma that left me wishing I had taken a trip to Hawaii instead of a trip to the playground.

Damn you blue water

Damn you blue water

I was at the playground with Smarty Pants, doing the usual playground drill, building an intricate network of tunnels and bridges in the damp autumn sand.  The sun was beating brightly from a clear blue sky.  Everything seemed perfect, until “the kid” arrived.  The kid is a nice kid, don’t get me wrong, but he was the root of my awkward moment today, and for that, I rue him a bit right now.  Lets call him “Water Boy” – you’ll see why in a minute.

We know Water Boy from the playground and I have talked to his parents occasionally… not exactly bosom buddies or anything, just a friendly “Hello, How are you? Now leave me alone” type of deal.  Water Boy plays nicely with Smarty Pants, which is great, considering Water Boy is about 1.5 years his senior.

Anyways, all was well until Water Boy wonderfully exclaimed, “Let’s go get some water.”

Innocent enough I thought, and Smarty Pants liked the idea, so we followed along to “Get some water.”

What I didn’t know was that what Water Boy had in mind was actually not water at all.

I found myself in front of a vending machine at the community centre by the playground.  Water Boy’s dad had just forked out $2 for a Powerade for Water Boy.  ‘A Powerade for a four year old?’ I thought.  And this was no small Powerade… it was like one of those 600 ml or more jobbies.  It seemed more fit for someone who had just run a marathon than someone who had just dug some sand castles.  “Blue Water, Blue Water!” the dear Water Boy exclaimed, as he licked the Powerade from his now indigo lips.

Of course, Smarty Pants immediately turned to me, asking, “Can I have Blue Water too?”

And so began the awkward moment and dilemma.

Should I give in to fit in with Water Boy and his dad, allowing Smarty Pants to drink the blue brew of caffeine and sugar, leaving him awake until the wee hours of the morning and his kidneys none the healthier?  Or, do I stand my ground as the advocate parent of healthy consumption, risking feeling like the “bad dad” in the process, and, outright showing Water Boy’s dad that I disagree with his decision to buy Powerade for his son?

Well, I opted for the latter, and told Smarty Pants he could not have the Blue Water.  I tried to think of the most politically correct reason to tell Smarty Pants, in order not to insult Water Boy’s dad too much.  That is, I didn’t want to just say, “I’m sorry Smarty Pants, little kids shouldn’t drink that crap because it is not good for them.”  So instead, I said, “I’m sorry Smarty Pants, you are too young to drink that.”  I didn’t exactly like saying this, because I don’t want Smarty Pants to think I view him as a little baby, but I really couldn’t think of anything better to say in the moment.

So, I was faced with a tantrum from Smarty Pants, who was screaming at me for Blue Water, while Water Boy and his dad stood there, looking on, sipping their cerulean treat.

Water Boy’s dad was thinking, ‘Who is this cheap bastard who doesn’t want to buy his kid a drink?’ or maybe he was thinking, ‘This guy thinks I am a horrible parent because I buy sugar- and caffeine-saturated drinks for my kid.’

Smarty Pants was thinking, ‘My dad is so mean because he doesn’t want to buy me Blue Water!’

Water Boy was thinking, ‘Mmmmm… blue water…. let’s run around in circles and scream real loud, that will be fun!’

I was thinking, ‘Get me out of here, right now.’

So you can imagine why it felt like an awkward moment.  Well, the moment passed, Smarty Pants calmed down a bit, I didn’t mention the words “Powerade,” “Blue” or “Water” again, and tried to put it behind me.  I am happy with my decision, even though it led to the tantrum and the awkward moment.  Water Boy and his dad didn’t say anything about it and we only exchanged a few more words before parting ways shortly after.

What would you have done?  Do you agree with my decision?

Flickr photo courtesy of ERIO

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