Friday, June 8, 2012

...wants, needs and a good rationalization

photo by Celeste Bracewell 2012

According to the sign in the Napa store window, all you need is love and a bottle of wine. Just around the corner, though, is a confectioner's shop. The words of Charles Schulz return: "All you need is love. And a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt."

Need. What a powerful and abused word. I listened to an interchange in the grocery store recently. Not voluntarily. I was blocked by carts in both directions, a captive audience to a two-year-old's temper tantrum. The mother felt that reason alone would prevail. Bless her heart. She didn't stand an ice cube's chance in Gulf Shores. The dialog went something like this:

Toddler: I want red cookies.
Mom:  Those aren't good for you.
Toddler ups his volume:  I WANT COOKIES.
Mom counters with nutrition: I'll get you good snacks with (I am not making this up) vitamins. These have bad dye in them. That's what makes them red. (Yes, this happened in Berkeley. Mom is obviously over-degreed.)
Mom tries diversion: We have healthy snacks at home. When you...
Toddler interrupts and takes it up a notch: I NEED COOKIES. I NEED THEM. I NEED THEM NOW. (I don't have larger caps but "NOW" was earsplitting. Any shriller, the word would have been audible only to dogs. I wouldn't wish this on any canine.)

I needed to escape. With a dexterity I did not know I possessed, I backed up between two carts and moved to the other side of the store in a flash. Shoppers miraculously parted like the Red Sea. Sadly the dialog continued long-distance but I will spare you the ugly details.

Every mother has experienced the "need" approach. I personally didn't opt for nutrition lectures nor, before you report me to some organization, did I swat or hit. If "no" didn't suffice, then I preferred immediate removal from the store to home with no treats until after a succeeding trip that demonstrated some delayed gratification skills. No reason to be other people's problem. 

According to family lore, I myself needed a doll at age three. In an era when toys arrived at Christmas and no other time except for a few games on birthdays, I saw Tiny Tears in the window one spring day and just had to have her. I asked. Mother said she didn't have any cash. Not to be out-maneuvered, I said, "You can get some at the bank." She said she didn't have enough in the bank. My last effort: "Write a check." I was either precocious with regards to today's economic practices or simply three and our current national budget process should aim higher. Back to the doll fix, Mother was not moved. 

What I need is love. Mercy. Grace. Forgiveness. Good boundaries. Friends and family. Sustenance and shelter. What I want is, as my grandmother said, "a whole 'nother story". A few days of spring-cleaning time remain before summer legally rolls around. The closets are clean. I have time to glean my lists, to separate needs from wants. 

And I'm going to think about this just as soon I have a bite of dark chocolate. I hear the antioxidants are quite healthy, after all.


GretchenJoanna said...

Great stories within and illustrating our Human Story. And funny!

Celeste said...

We're never as unique as we imagine! Best lesson my mother ever gave me (a future post): laugh at yourself, never others. It was a double pay-off.

BrightSoul said...

Great illustration. I sometimes shake my head at my "needs" when all I really DO need is mercy, grace and a thankful spirit. God help us all!

Celeste said...

I love Madeleine L'Engle's wise words about why writer's write: not for others but for ourselves. We have a need process life/experience in this way. Much in the same vein as the flight attendant's directive: "put on your oxygen mask before you strap on your child's". Or loving our neighbor's AS we love ourselves. What seems selfish at first glance is really quite a humbling thing if we are writing honestly and without selfish motives. However we get there, I believe that transparency - ouch - is the door to God's great love.