At our wedding 6 and a half years ago, we had a cute little candy table set up.
Most of the candy was put in these mason jars I painstakingly decorated with lace, burlap, and ribbon. We had, among other things: mints, taffy, and jelly belly beans.
A lot of the candy was left over after the wedding, and I wanted to keep a few of the jars I had made, so we consolidated the candy in the jars I wanted to keep. Fast forward to when we moved to Oregon, and the jars now live on the windowsill in our kitchen.
We don’t eat candy very often. Well, let me be clear – we eat the good stuff quickly, and the rest just kinda…sits there. Plus, the wedding candy kinda became more decoration than treat.
Fast forward again to when we had kids, and to when my youngest kid decided that she’d rather start pooping in her pants than in the potty (the latter she had been doing for weeks already). Kids are wondrous, folks. Simply amazing little creatures.
Mama had had enough and, after much screaming and sanitizing and laundry, we decided to try rewards as a last resort. My first thought was that we’d have to go out and buy some M&Ms.
We had three cute little jars full of (old) candy that wasn’t being eaten, right in front of me as I did the dishes at the end of every exhausting day! I promptly offered my daughter a jelly bean the next time she went poop on the potty, and pointed to the jar that was backlit by the spring sunlight coming in through the window, illuminating the sugary beans like they were sent straight from heaven.
It worked like a charm!
Now, because we were giving my youngest a magic poop bean every time she delivered the goods, my oldest saw an opportunity.
Hey, he said. (he didn’t really say that) I want one, too. (that he did say)
And so, for the past, I don’t know, 6 months or so (maybe 9? my brain is mush), we’ve been giving each kid a bean, when we’ve been home, for a deed that normally should be going on unrewarded.
After a short while, it was clear that my genius had paid off, and that my daughter’s skill mastery of potty training was here to stay. But, another problem was looming.
How do we stop the rewards?!
Surely, I’d created two monsters. Obviously, they’d go off to college thinking they deserved a godforsaken jelly belly after every empty colon produced. Clearly, I had failed as a parent. I had gone in without an exit strategy! Rookie mistake! Sorry, future roommates and partners.
We had a finite number of jelly beans! Of course! Again, the answer had been staring me in the face as I stood at the sink, doing endless freaking dishes day in and day out. The jelly beans would, one day, just run out. There would be no more.
This problem solved itself, ladies and gentlemen. I made the announcement, and they accepted the news in stride. The countdown to the End of the Jelly Beans became somewhat of a thing, from then on. It was to be an exciting milestone for all involved.
So. I’m sure you know what recently happened. My baby girl produced so much poop so many times and ate her way through that jar. She no longer needs the jar. She no longer asks for the beans. The circle of life was complete in that the beans became the poop for which the reward was the beans. I propose that the chicken-or-the-egg phrase be officially replaced.
So thank you, Jelly Bean Jar. You served your purpose not only in looking cute at my wedding, and on my window sill, but you also saved me having to do a whole lot of laundry.
Now, let’s raise a glass to the Jelly Bean Jar. Here’s to stale candy doing what I could not- getting a stubborn little girl to do something that shouldn’t require rewarding in the first place.