“What are you eating Daddy?” my daughter asked.
It was well after dinner and I was snacking on a piece of Halloween candy. We had about two bags of mini chocolates left over from the holiday and I’ve been slowly sneaking bars off the top of the refrigerator - one or two a day. I’d been trying to keep it out of view of the kids - they have their own store of candy from their trick or treating - so they don’t get candied out.
“Daddy,” my daughter asked again, “What are you eating?”
She'd been chattering about her day and sharing her school artwork with me when she noticed that I was chewing and not responding too her.
“Mmmm,” I mumbled evasively, “Mnnothin weetie.”
She wasn’t fooled.
“Can I have some chocolate too,” she asked, “I’d like some chocolate Daddy please.”
Caught. Nabbed. I was looking into the eyes of a preschool Columbo.
“Um,” I said, quickly finishing the little square of chocolate, and trying to ignore her observations, “Can I see your school project again?”
“Okay Daddy,” she said smiling, “Can I have some chocolate?”
One of the hardest things I’m finding as a parent is to instill good eating habits in my kids while keeping my poor habits under control. I'm such a wimp when it comes to candy. I have a major sweet tooth and once I get on a chocolate kick, it’s very hard to stop.
“It’s past desert time,” I said, feeling both guilty and unfair, “Maybe tomorrow.”
She just looked at me for a few seconds as if she were a trying to puzzle out a nonsense rhyme and then went back to her toys. Gratefully she didn’t complain or demand a rationale for my incongruous behavior. She's a really good kid - too good actually.
Part of me thinks, I should just be up front with her. My parents never had any bones about a double standard.
“I’m the Daddy ... that’s why,” was one of my father’s favorites. As an adult too I see how hard the man had to work and realize there was a reason he'd earned that bowl of ice cream. But somehow I can’t say this.
I’m just torn. I guess I just don’t want the kid to realize how easily I give into this simple temptation. I’d like to feel like I’m still able to have a little candy stash with no consequences (other than the ones on my waistline). I want to sneak a candy bar in peace.
This wish, I know, is a denial. The kids will see what I do; there's no avoiding it. The days of Reeces and Snickers are gone - never to return.
Soon, I'm going to have to be a better Daddy. I'm going to have to live by my own rules (even the small ones). I’m gonna have to come clean, or give up the candy, or just share. Alas.
It’s a sad day.