Lucien and I were at a small children’s theatre production of Cinderella. We’d taken the subway there—two transfers and 45 minutes from where we’re staying in Brooklyn—and Lucien had done an admirable job all day. Patient on the subway; rapt during the performance; engaged during the puppet-making workshop that followed the show. But, as we walked by the makeshift concession stand on the way to the bathroom, he saw them.
The juice boxes.
Now, I have nothing against juice boxes. (Well, maybe a little something against them—the wasted packaging, the added sugar in most brands.) In our family, juice for kids is a special occasion thing. Birthday parties, sore throats, maybe a play date. Besides, we’d already spent money on the play and the puppet-making accessories—did we really need to spend $2 more on a juice box he didn’t need when I had a perfectly good, healthful snack waiting for him in my bag?
The woman working behind the concession stand held the juice out to Lucien.
“Would you like this juice?” she asked, innocently.
“Yes!” Lucien said.
“No, babe.” I said, firmly but gently. “I have some almonds and raisins for you. Let’s go have afternoon snack.”
“I WANT THAT JUICE BOX.”
I took a deep breath.
Should I change my mind? After all, it was only some juice. Or should I stand firm? After all, children, my child anyway, thrive given clear rules and boundaries. And I’d already said no.
Lucien cried. He stomped. He had a full blown juice box tantrum.
I held him, feeling guilty for saying no; feeling overwhelmed by the task of taking an upset five year old home on three subways. Should I give in? Should I stand firm?
I breathed. I plugged my feet into the ground and told myself if I could handle an hour of standing poses, or a long seated meditation, or a Handstand practice, I could certainly handle a juice box tantrum.
And then, a few minutes later, it was over. The storm had passed. Lucien was over the juice, and on to new concerns. Did the people in the church where the play was being held believe in dog heaven? (A friendly church member said yes, and that the congregation had actually prayed for a member’s sick dog that morning.) Could we stay for the next production? (That was an easy yes. I’d rather spend $12 on a theater ticket than $2 on a juice box.)
In the end I don’t know if I made too much of saying no to the juice box. Was I turning an innocent snack of apple juice into some great forbidden nectar? All I know is that reacting to a tantrum feels wrong. And I realize these yes’s and no’s will only get more difficult, much more difficult, as Lucien gets older. Hopefully, my yoga practice will help me figure out when to stand firm and when to say yes.
Jessica Berger Gross is the author of enLIGHTened: How I Lost 40 Pounds with a Yoga Mat, Fresh Pineapples, and a Beagle Pointer (Skyhorse), out in paperback now. She’s spending the year in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and five-year-old son. “Like” her author page on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter. Visit her at www.jessicabergergross.com.