The evidence was everywhere, carnage of a sugar rush gone mad, access to all the vices in life consumed at once. It was like Eve not only biting into the apple, but running around Eden with it on the sly, scattering bits and pieces, leaving teeth marks in all the good apples somebody else could have eaten (AHEM), tucking the fruit into hiding spaces so she could go back and get some more, later, when Adam and God weren’t looking.
Except this was no Eve. This was Cian, after Easter. And Cian, unlike his sisters, could give Eve a run for her money.
The foil started appearing everywhere, starting the day after Easter Sunday. Little crumpled bits of pink in the couch. A flattened wedge of pastel blue on the playroom table. There was a half-eaten milk chocolate egg, wrapper still partly intact, on the floor behind a chair leg. I noticed a smear of something dark on a couch, swabbed at it with a wet cloth, wondered which child had forgotten to wash her hands after playing outside.
Then, I noticed the teeth marks in a chocolate bunny, then another. The smudge of brown on Cian’s cheek. The bouts of quiet, followed by a sudden burst of energy, followed by more whining than is probably normal, even in a two-year-old.
You could say it was my fault, really. What mother leaves the Easter baskets, still full of candy, out for display for a week after the holiday? What mother doesn’t notice stray strings of that paper filler grass floating about the house, or the opened wrapper of a peanut butter egg in the trash can? This went on for days, mind you. I am not proud of that sentence.
It wasn’t until I walked though the dining/playroom one day, having run upstairs for something or other, and saw him, my dear son, sitting splayed out on the rug, basket between his outstretched legs, with hands full of the candy he’d dug out of the bottom of the mess. He was chewing on something when I rounded the bend. He was quiet as can be, sitting in the middle of the room, my Sneak Eater caught red-handed. And when he saw me–my innocent boy, my sweet two-year-old–his eyes widened. He gasped. His arms froze in mid-air, his hands opened so that all the candy in them dropped straight to the ground, and he got very, very still.
“WOT was I EE-ting?” he asked. He acted incredulous, and looked around like he’d no idea how he’d gotten there. He’d stopped chewing, and looked up at me, eyes still wide. “Oh!”
I couldn’t even discipline him. Didn’t raise my voice. Didn’t make a big deal out of it. I simply told him, no, Cian. You may not eat any candy without asking Mom or Dad, all the while trying not to laugh. And then I took the basket away, wiped off his face, and let him run around to burn off the sugar.
I think the world would have turned out differently if Eve had been a really savvy two-year-old. Apparently playing dumb is sometimes a way to get ahead. Not exactly the lesson I’d like my children to absorb, but definitely one that made this mom feel she might have a little more to learn.*
*Though she did remember to keep a stash of the Easter candy hidden away in the pantry, out of sight of hungry young eyes. So maybe playing smart sometimes ain’t such a bad idea, either. Only time (and another decade or so as a parent, perhaps) will tell.