On The Burden of Choice

All you parents out there, have you ever found yourself wondering why there is so much conflict in your house? Why no one seems to be listening to one another? Why there are bad attitudes flying constantly? …No? Ok, yeah. Me neither.

On a completely unrelated note, our kids are almost perfect, but we were just brainstorming about how we could encourage them to become even more, um, angelic, so we are trying a new behavior chart. Basically, the kids have clips, and they move up or down depending on the choices they make. When they move down, there are consequences, but if they keep their clip at the top, at the end of the day they can choose a small reward for tomorrow. The rewards are things like an extra book at bedtime, an extra show, one less Saturday chore, etc.

Yesterday we tried it out for the first time, and our kids responded like a dream! That is, I mean, errr, they just acted civilized and responsible and saintly…you know, as usual. Ahem.

Before bed, I pulled down the basket of reward cards, and Audrey stood there studying and analyzing, weighing all options carefully. She finally landed on “choosing what we eat for dinner.” Now, for those of you who don’t personally know my daughter, I’ll just mention that she relishes any opportunity to be in charge. She LOVES getting to make the plans and be the boss. So she was pretty ecstatic about getting to be in charge of such a monumental decision as family dinner. Ben asked her about it, and she was just beaming. “I can’t believe I get to CHOOSE DINNER!!!! It’s like I’M the planner of the family! This is amazing!!!”

So she crawled into bed with giddy excitement, until I asked her what she might choose…”Hmmm, well I LOVE lentils and rice. That’s my favorite. But I also love tacos, and you and Dad like those too, but what if I want something else?!”

“Like what?”

“Like steak on the grill!!! Or chicken nuggets! Or could I have steak and chicken nuggets?!”

“Um, no. This is not a buffet. You can choose one dinner.

As I walked out of her room after tucking her in, she was still verbally processing how on earth she would make such a difficult and weighty choice. “Rock, paper, scissors” and “eenie meenie minie mo” were both discussed, but were eventually discarded due to some issue or another. I chuckled as I plopped on the couch next to Ben. A few minutes later, Audrey plodded sheepishly into the living room, and shyly slipped me a piece of paper before slinking back to her bed.

I quizzically unfolded this note:


It would seem that our very confident daughter is not, in fact, ready to be the boss quite yet. The dinner dilemma just proved to be too much for her. The girl who wants to decide EVERYTHING. The girl who wants to choose what she wears and what I wear, what we do and where we go, how to organize a party, decorate our whole house, and who always has a “better idea” whenever I make any suggestion about what’s going to happen in our lives.

Folks, she had been stumped.

And let me tell you, I UNDERSTAND. I wanted to take her little cherub face in my hands and scream “I HAVE TO MAKE THIS DECISION EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!!!!!! Now you see why your mom is neurotic.”

Honestly, is there anything more difficult than choosing what to make for dinner, I ask you? In this house, it seems to be the conundrum of the century. In the first place, I truly hate making decisions of any kind, but especially the inconsequential ones. WHY ARE THE STUPID POINTLESS ONES SO HARD?? Even as I type this, I’m seriously entertaining the thought of having weekly rotating schedule that never changes. And then also just throwing out my clothes and buying myself a uniform, while I'm at it.

Choices are hard.

The end.

P.S. For those of you wondering, after an agonizing morning full of rock paper scissors, and some coaching from dad, the queen decided that tacos win.

Happy Taco Tuesday, friends!