‘Oh my God! What happened?’ My youngest had eaten her entire Advent calendar. In one sitting.’: Mom takes advantage of toddler’s naughty decision and gives her ‘something more valuable’

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“’Oh my God! What happened?’ I said as I walked into the family room and saw the carnage. It was the second morning of December and the room was littered with paper ripped into hundreds of tiny pieces. In the center of it was my preschooler; her face covered in chocolate. I gasped. My youngest had snuck downstairs and eaten her entire Advent calendar. In one sitting.

Empty milk chocolate Advent Calendar after toddler ate them all in one sitting
Courtesy of Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper

At first, I was furious. I made her help clean the mess. Then I told her she wouldn’t be getting another calendar. She’d have to watch her siblings eat their candy for the next three weeks. She melted, the chocolate now a brown river streaming down her face. My heart began to melt, too. So I picked her up and let her nestle her chocolatey face into me.

‘It’s okay,’ I said. ‘Mommy isn’t angry. But this is the consequence. You only had one Advent calendar. Mommy doesn’t have another.’ She sobbed and nodded and seemed to understand. Until the next morning, when she cried about not having a chocolate. Followed by the one after. Inside I began to worry. Was this too hard for a three-year-old?

So I began my hunt searching for a leftover calendar. For days it was futile. Then, while in the grocery store, I spied one in the wrong department. I lunged for it, exhaling as I felt the cardboard in my hands. But before I placed it into my cart, I paused. What would I be teaching her if I gave in? What would I be teaching her siblings, who had been patient?

Conflicted, I stood there frozen, then put the calendar back. And the next morning when my daughter cried, I told her the same thing I had said the days before. Only this time I was sure I meant it. ‘I’m sorry, honey, but you ate yours on the first day,’ I said. ‘Next time if you want it to last, you need to save them.’ Through her tears, she nodded.

After this, she stopped crying every morning. And as much as I still felt bad for not buying a second calendar, I knew deep down I had given her something more valuable – patience, kindness, and grit. Though when she asked if Santa ever brings chocolate, I gave her a big nod. ‘He sure does!’ I said. ‘Especially to little girls who work hard to learn big lessons.'”

headshot of mother and daughter making silly faces
Courtesy of Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper of Connecticut. You can follow her journey on Instagram, and website. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribeto our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos 

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