With gale force winds whipping outside, and the mention of frost and snow, you think this post is going to be about the wintertime cookie, right?
Nope. It's not even about gingerbread lattes, which are completely and totally wonderful in and of themselves and a reason to celebrate fall.
This story is about what happens when you don't follow the rules. While Jake has presented with and continues to present many challenges in parenting him, one of the easiest things about him is his NEED to follow rules. So, if you tell him that something is a 'rule,' expect him to follow it.
But, then, there's Sophia. I often say (and really, really mean) that it's a good think they look alike, otherwise we'd be convinced that one of them got switched at the hospital. Because they are nothing, and I mean nothing alike. Pretty much polar opposites.
So, to Sophia, a rule is not a hard and fast thing. It's flexible and malleable, and made to not necessarily be broken, but to see how far it can be bent (we see a career in politics in her future). She's awfully creative, and frankly, so humorous about it that she often gets away with murder because we admire her skill.
So, yesterday, I got to visit Sophia's kindergarten classroom as mystery reader. While there, the teacher (who happens to be a good friend of mine as well) introduces to the class this paper gingerbread man who is about the size of an average kindergartner. She tells the class that the gingerbread man is magic and explores the school after everyone has left for the day, and that they'll have to hunt for the gingerbread man every day when they get to school.
So my kid, of course, pipes up "That doesn't really happen," leaving the teacher to defend this story. She used the phrase "have I ever lied to you?" which was totally ironic, because she WAS lying to them. But she told them that the gingerbread man is so ticklish that you cannot touch him. My time at school was about up, and as I left, I noticed that Sophia and one of her best buds (who is cut from very similar cloth) with their heads together near the gingerbread man.
When Sophia got home from school, she informed me that she TOUCHED the gingerbread man, but her finger didn't turn brown. Huh? Upon further questioning, she explained to me that if you touch the gingerbread man, he can cast a spell on you and you start to turn brown because you're turning into gingerbread. And once you're all gingerbread, you have to go live in Candyland. Sophia was very relieved that she and her friend had not started to turn brown, even though they BOTH touched the gingerbread man, despite being told not to.
Fast forward to the evening. Sophia is soaking in the tub. Suddenly, she starts yelling for me. I go in, and she tells me, "This is the worst thing that's ever happened to me." What? A bath? Surely it cannot be that bad. She points to her knee. On her knee is a brown spot, about the size of a dime. Now, to the lay person, it's just a bruise. But, Sophia was convinced she was starting to turn into a gingerbread man. I played along (thinking that she can't REALLY believe this. After all, she was the one who didn't buy the whole story to begin with.) I tell her we'll just have to wait until morning to see if she continues to turn brown.
(Now, in the back of my mind, I'm envisioning sneaking into her room after she falls asleep and coloring her hands brown with a marker. How funny would that be!)
Sophia starts to panic a little. She asks me to soap up her leg and see if the spot comes off. It doesn't. I get her out of the tub, and she's on the verge of tears. By the time she's dressed, she's crying. Her father is holding her. We're trying not to laugh. She is in a full on panic. Sophia really thinks she's turning into a gingerbread man. She asks to wear pants to school so no one can see that she's turning brown. She wonders if her friend is turning brown too. The tears are really flowing.
I call her teacher to ask if there is a way to "reverse" the magic. There is a pause on the line. The teacher never told the girls such a thing. She told them not to touch it, but that was all. Apparently Sophia and her friend came up with the idea that touching the gingerbread man can make them turn into gingerbread. I repeat all this to Sophia, along with the message that the gingerbread man doesn't have THAT kind of magic, to turn kids into gingerbread man.
Sophia finally buys it. She says, "I think it's just a bruise, right?" We assure her. We also remind her that if she had followed the rules this would not have happened.
I resisted the temptation to color her hands in at night. Today, she is still checking for brown, and is relieved that her spot has not gotten bigger.
I'm not sure she'll ever eat gingerbread again.