I have a secret. I used to steal cookies. Not the freebies at the grocery store that parents give to children as bribes, I mean, rewards for good behavior – no, I stooped much lower. I stole cookies from my own children.
The rule was this: you could have two cookies if you finished your dinner, all food groups including vegetables. Sitting at the harvest table in the kitchen with the sun setting behind our house in Plano, Texas, we three checked each other’s plates for compliance.
“David didn’t eat his peas – no Oreos for him,” five-year old Jessica said in her big sister voice. David’s two-year-old mouth frowned at the hated green spheres lined up on his plate.
“Oh, I think if you eat four or five peas, David, you can have one cookie, don’t you?” I saw David’s face brighten. Then his jaw set, mustering the will to choke down the peas. He stuffed four peas into his mouth then gagged and swallowed. I felt like a wicked witch.
David got his Oreo, Jess and I two each, and so ended dinner. My children scattered to play outside or in their rooms or to watch TV.
While cleaning up the kitchen, I got a hankering for another cookie. I heard this little whisper: You should get three cookies because you’re bigger. I glanced around to make sure my children weren’t looking then reached into the bag of Oreos. After secreting the extra cookie in my pocket, I snuck into the bathroom and locked the door.
“Ah, a moment off duty.” Sitting on the toilet seat cover, I took the Oreo out of my pocket. I twisted it apart and licked the cream off the chocolate cracker just like a kid.
Jessica and David knocked on the bathroom door. “Mom, Mom, are you in there?”
“Just a minute.” I stuffed the chocolate crackers into my mouth, chewing as fast as I could, then swallowed. After running my tongue around my teeth to remove the evidence, I unlocked the door. “Here I am,” I said with as much innocence as I could muster. We proceeded on with the rest of the evening: baths, story reading and bedtime for Jessica and David; thereafter, mail sorting, laundry folding and paper grading for me.
By the time my children became teenagers – that’s Jessica’s 17th birthday with David 13 going on 14 – the two-cookie rule had lapsed. They ate like locusts. For some reason, I decided to confess my crime, but of course, Jessica and David already knew.
“Well duh, Mom. We saw how many cookies were missing, especially the Girl Scout Thin Mints.” I could put away close to a row of those in one sitting. Maybe I thought they wouldn’t notice because by then food just disappeared and I still never gained an ounce.
Looking back, I feel a little guilty about the two-cookie rule. But David came to like vegetables including peas. He always asked for steamed artichokes with lemon butter for his birthday every year. And both David and Jessica seem to eat healthy.
Me? I haven’t bought packaged cookies in years. On occasion when I bake, I might sneak an extra cookie. I’m bigger, and these days every cookie shows.