The Smarty Lesson


Charlotte came home from ballet on Wednesday with a pack of smarties she had earned for listening and actually attempting to practice their dance for the recital. She immediately offered to share with Liam, and to save one for Sienna.

After about three minutes, she had shared her smarties freely with Liam, and all were gone save the one yellow smarty she had set aside for Sienna. She held it carefully as she and Liam sat cross-legged on the couch, watching a movie. I was folding clothes at the breakfast table and watching her as she held the smarty cradled in both hands, and then took it out, held it up, looked longingly at it, and placed it back gently between her hands.

But it was only noon, and three and a half hours is a long time for a four year old to keep one tempting candy set aside for a sister. After twenty minutes, I saw her take the smarty out, examine it critically, and then take one tiny nibble out of the edge. She looked around a little guiltily and then stuck the remainder of the smarty on the table next to her, covering it with a piece of paper.

But covered or no, her eyes kept returning to the place where the smarty lay hidden. Finally one little hand reached for it, removed it from under the paper, and brought it to her lips, where she took a slightly larger nibble. She placed it back under the paper immediately, and then shifted on the couch so that she was a little further away from the smarty.

After that, it seemed to me that she had defeated the siren song of the smarty. She seemed to almost forget about it. I put Liam down for a nap and went to sweep the other room and do some dusting, and when I returned she was still sitting there, and the paper still lay on the table, covering the smarty. I started doing the dishes and preparing dinner.

About twenty minutes later, Charlotte walked over to where I stood in the kitchen, both hands cradling what I assumed was the smarty. “Mom,” she announced, “I want to put Sienna’s smarty here so it will be safe for her when she gets home from school.”

“Okay, Chars,” I said. “Why don’t you put it right here on this part of the counter, where it won’t get wet?”

Charlotte smiled at me and opened her hands up, then carefully lifted up the tiniest sliver of a smarty from out of her palm. It was so miniscule I could barely see it between her thumb and forefinger. I tried not to laugh as she set it gingerly down on the counter. She looked at me solemnly and said, “I only wanted to have a little taste, but once I started nibbling it was too hard to stop.”

I feel ya, kid.


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