To Praise, or to Punish?

Sometimes, the hardest thing about being a parent is having to make the on-the-spot decision as to whether or not you are going to thank you child for a well-intentioned gesture, or scream at them for blatantly disregarding rules and safety, and thus taking the risk that they will never try to do anything helpful ever again.  I was faced with just such a decision a few short mornings ago.

I had decided, as I often do, to take a shower, which meant that Edward was left to his own devices for approximately a fifteen minute period.  Usually he is watching Calliou, or some other weird show at that time and it is uneventful.  But this time, when I got out of of the shower, Edward announced that he had made breakfast for me.

Now, it would be one thing if he had pulled a string cheese stick out of the fridge for me or something, but in this case he had made me toast.  Which meant that he had used the toaster.  Which he has not been trained on and has been warned against using.  And he had made himself some toast as well.  There were two plates out, and four pieces of toast, two on each plate.  He even had the butter out of the fridge, and I could see how proud he was of himself, and how excited he was to have made breakfast for me.

Obviously the first thing that ran through my mind was, “You could have burned the house down!  You could have burned yourself down!  You could have broken the toaster!  You know that you are not supposed to touch the toaster!  Bad!  Bad!  Bad!”  But on the other hand, I was thinking, “Awwwww, that is so cute and thoughtful!  I can’t believe you made some toast for me!  I love you sooooo much!  How about we go to the toy store and you pick out whatever you want?  Because you are the best son in the whole wide world!”

So which way do I go?  Do I tell him that making me breakfast was bad, scarring him for life?  Or do I tell him that making me breakfast was good, thus ensuring that he eventually burns the house down, scarring us all for life?  This is another one of those parental Catch-22s.

Okay, look, I know that the real correct answer is to sit him down and thank him for the toast, but explain that the toaster is really for grown-ups, and next time would he please ask for some supervision if he wants to make toast.  That way he knows that I appreciate his effort but he also understands that he broke some rules along the way.  But when you are in the heat of the moment it is hard to remember all of the good parenting tips that are obvious to you a day later.

So you probably want to know what I did.  Well, it was not option 3, so I got the question wrong already, since we now know that the answer was “c.”  Although it wasn’t strictly an “a” or a “b” response either.  In the end I went with “d) Eat the toast and unplug the toaster.” 

Posted in Bad Parenting, Breakfast, Edward, Food, Parenting, Toast.

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