Recently my six year old grandson, TJ, came to spend a week with me. His mom was on a work trip and TJ and I had big plans while she was gone. We would swim each day, walk the beach, hit tennis balls, shoot hoops and attend the excavation of a turtle nest. Card games, word games, and board games would fill our evenings together. Whenever I am with my grandchildren, I seem to get into my teaching mode, trying to offer them at least one key life learning. As you can imagine, we talk about appreciating life, loving our siblings, and things we can do to help others.
After hours in the pool, TJ pronounced that he was “starrrrrrrrrrrrrrrving”. He asked if he could have some wheat thins. “Sure!”, I quickly responded and then realized it was late afternoon, near dinner time. And so I added “but not too many.” He quickly opened the cabinet bursting with snack possibilities, located the Wheat Thins, and brought them to the table. He reached his hand deep into the box, hesitated, and said “uh, Gram…how many is ‘not too many’?”
How many is “not too many?”
It was a great question, one that took me by surprise. I did not know how many was “not too many”. The take charge part of me wanted to give him an arbitrary number, such as six, but why six? Why not three or eight or fifteen? How many Wheat Thins is “not too many?”
Not meaning to get too philosophical here, afterall we are talking about a box of Wheat Thins, but was I the person to decide how many Wheat Thins would be too many for TJ? Should I call his mother, disturb her business meeting and ask her? Should TJ decide for himself how many Wheat Thins is “not too many?”
Seriously, casting the Wheat Thins dilemma aside for a moment, I could apply this question to many aspects of my own life. How many is “not too many?” How many dresses is “not too many?” How many sets of tennis is “not too many” in this extreme heat? How many guests at a party are”not too many?” Surely others would say I have too many dresses, played way too much tennis in 96 degree heat, and had too many people at my last party. But are others the ones to best answer those questions? There it was!– the teachable moment.
TJ waited patiently with his chubby little hand in the Wheat Thins box, while I ran the mental exercise of practical application noted above. He jarred me back to reality.
”Uh, Gram?” he interrupted. “The wheat thins….how many is not too many?”
I responded with a question, “How many would feel good and still leave you room to enjoy your favorite dinner?” I did not have to remind him of a previous time when too many snacks upset his stomach.
Tapping his finger on his chin and lips, something he does when he is thinking, TJ responded, “I think five would be good. I love roasted chicken and mashed potatoes, so five wheat thins will hold me for now. And then I can eat my dinner”. Tj knows his limits. He wanted the Wheat Thins to settle his immediate craving, but wanted to be fully prepared to enjoy the dinner he loves. He didn’t need me to give him the number.
How many Wheat Thins is “not too many?” How many anything is “not too many” in my life? The answer to that question should come from me, no one else. I need to understand myself and my behavior and live according to what I believe. I need to know when my behavior stops being something I am proud of, and becomes over-the-top, excessive–not because of anothers opinion of me, but because of my opinion of me. In search of a higher SUCCESSTROGEN level, women need to decide for themselves how many is “not too many”, acknowledging excessive or impulsive behavior and changing the behavior, and occasionally accepting their lack of perfection and living with the consequences.
And what about you? How many is “not too many?”