Teddy loves tic tacs. Lydia enjoys them, too, but Teddy is actually motivated to do things he might otherwise fight doing if there’s a promise of tic tacs upon completion of said task. For example, he’s a homebody who fights every outing. But I can convince him to get his shoes on and go out the door if I assure him tic tacs will be distributed once we’re on the sidewalk.
We started out with light green tic tacs, the spearamint flavor. Those are my favorite, and the kids love them, too. Then, for Teddy’s birthday last year, I included tic tacs in the favor bags, but only the white, peppermint flavor ones were available in the tiny size I wanted.
Teddy did not like the peppermint flavor. (Neither do I.) The peppermint tic tacs were too spicy. The peppermint tic tacs were not motivating. But I couldn’t find the spearamint ones anywhere.
Then Teddy discovered the orange flavor ones. And honestly, once you discover orange, you can’t really go back. He kept asking why I hadn’t bought more tic tacs, and I kept telling him he was welcome to earn the money to buy them himself. We even priced all the different options. But he was uninterested in actually doing the chore I suggested (shredding documents, which I HATE doing; we have a grocery tote bag full of documents to be shredded). Finally he asked if we could count the coins already in his Thomas the train bank and lo and behold, he had enough for a pack of tic tacs. And that’s even we suggested he get the orange ones. The container lasted two days. He managed to save two tic tacs for a second day.
And then we were back to the tic tacs no one would eat. I had a few coupons for the citrus mix tic tacs, and I figured if he liked the orange ones so much, green and yellow and red would be fun too. Sadly, he did not like the yellow ones. He proclaimed they tasted like banana. I’m not sure how he’s tasting banana, but regardless, he *likes* banana. Whatever. But now he gets upset if I give him a yellow. And the larger container I have does not lend itself to easily choosing one’s preferred “flavor”. (They’re like sour candies: is there really different flavors, or just different colors?) And I refuse to dump a bunch in my hand for him to choose because then I get food coloring all over my palm.
But today, it became a thing. I gave him one green and one yellow as we were leaving for the bus, and he flipped out. Screamed and refused to walk with us. We missed our bus and had to wait for the next one. Mike decided he was done with tic tacs and all the drama they created. I was tempted to agree. The problem was, I had quite a few packs of the little candies. What would I do with them? Secretly feed them to Lydia, who never fought going outside and happily accepted whatever color came out? Whatever I decided, if I suddenly turned off the tic tac spout, Teddy would be furious. And it didn’t seem worth my energy to provoke that fight.
Then I had an idea: I’d pour all the tic tacs into a sandwich bag. Then Teddy could easily pick the ones he wanted while my hands stayed clean. It was while I was pouring the tic tacs into the bag that I noticed there was a hinge on the back of the container. I turned it around and saw the words “press here”. Well look at that: the top fully opens to reveal a mouth the width of the container. No need to pour the candies unto the bag at all.
And it made me realize, if I can step back from my frustration at Teddy being totally, in my opinion, unreasonably angry, and try to find a solution that works for both of us, more often than not, a solution will present itself, and hopefully I can validate his frustration and teach him to solve his own problems without blowing up.