My 5-year-old son and his sister hardly ever get to eat lollipops.
I made up my mind when they were infants to restrict their sugar intake and use candy sparingly as a treat or reward for good behavior, finished homework, or being kind to each other. Specifically, I had a dislike for hard candy, and I usually let them frequent ice-creams over sweets. Bias on my part? Maybe, I figured ice cream melts fast, and besides, it’s harder to come by than sweets. Plus, their mother likes ice cream.
Moreover, one of my irrational fears was that those hard round pops would melt away at the stick and them getting choked on it.
So the kids viewed any form of hard candy to be elusive and quite the prize, an enjoyment that is limited and an object of desire. But the end goal was met in that they do not view candy as regular food and that it was eaten in moderation, at least I think they see it that way.
They had their first taste of a lollipop this year, as it was gifted to my kids from a restaurant we dined in for my daughter’s birthday. After finishing his homework the next day, my son asked for it.
I relented and thought, we kept them away long enough from the lollipops, it’s fine if they have it now.
My son was delighted and sucked away at it while going about the house. Then we opened the doors of our home and let the kids play outside on their bicycles, as it was the evening. I requested that they stop eating the lollipops while doing physical play outside, and he handed me a half-eaten lollipop and asked that I kept it for him. For later, he said, and ran out.
I looked at the sticky hard mess on a stick, and thought, firstly how should I store it, and secondly, what if I just threw it away and give him a replacement candy should he remembers it.
I kept it for him. I found a container and placed the lollipop inside it, head down, and popped it into our freezer.
My son forgot about it that night and went to bed without asking for it.
But my husband found the container with the half-eaten lollipop inside and asked why on earth would I keep it?
I thought about it and here’s my answer.
Because it mattered to my son.
The small act of keeping his half-eaten lollipop mattered to my son, and so I did it.
Because for us adults it was trivial, a small matter.
But to young children, it was a big deal.
It mattered to him because the candy was such a treat and he wanted to enjoy it later. Their world is small, as they are still limited in their exposure to what’s out there, and what we let into their lives is only a fraction of what they will learn and know when they are older.
Kids at these ages do not have yet the burden of knowledge, worries about money, health, or death, and hurts. What they know is of home, family, school, and food or treats, and it matters to him.
I recall someone told me before that failing a mid-term test paper for a 9-year-old may not be a big deal in the grand scheme of life, but to that kid, that mid-term paper was their world at that moment and they are emotionally affected by their performance.
Another example is that of my kid crying because they didn’t get to watch an episode of their favorite show due to bedtime because it matters to him and he really wanted to watch the continuation from the last show, as small as this act it sounds.
Instead of dismissing them for crying over a small matter, maybe we should instead explain why we cannot watch another episode, let them cry over it for awhile, and then bring them to their bed lovingly.
We have to bring ourselves down to their level of understanding, and imagine ourselves in their shoes. What would matter to them, how do they feel loved, what impact our words will have on them, at their limited understanding and interpretation of the world.
Ultimately, we shape the world and the perspective of it for our children, and that is why we need to know what matters to their little hearts and re-act accordingly.
Hope this reflection helps new parents, and thank you for reading.