Monday, March 25, 2013

Stealing Food

I walked out from my bedroom at the back of the house and strolled into the kitchen, where my son was standing. He gave me an odd look, suddenly blurted "I need to use the restroom!", and practically ran out of the room. As he did so, however, I noticed he seemed to be shielding his right arm from me. As he approached the hallway, I could see he had something clenched in his hand.

"What's in your right hand?" I called out after him.
"Wh...whut?" he answered.
"Your right hand. You have something in it. What is it?"

Chagrined, he opened both hands to reveal two cookies.

"I just thought I'd have some cookies with lunch," he said defensively.

Inwardly I felt my heart break a little. I get the wanting cookies. Hell, I want cookies all the time. But to see, clearly, that he was not only sneaking food but was also lying about it made me want to cry. Because it reminds me so much of me.

"You were sneaking!" I exclaimed, to let him know I wasn't an idiot. "You were sneaking food, and now you tried to lie about it!"

He just stared at me.

"Bring them back to the kitchen!"

So he did, stomping the whole way. He threw the cookies back in their container and trounced down to his room.

And I was left standing there, stunned and not knowing what to do.

Maybe to other parents this would be a clear-cut situation: the kid took something they weren't supposed to, and then tried to cover it up by lying about it, so obviously there needs to be a consequence.

But for someone like me, a food addict who stole food as a kid and still sneaks it today, it feels really, really difficult to know what the correct response should be.

Then, of course, I wondered WHY he's sneaking food. For how long has he been doing it? Is he starting down the path to compulsive eating like his mom? Can I fix it? HOW can I fix it, when I haven't even been able to fix it in myself?

We have become more restrictive about how many sweets the kids can have, for pure health's sake but also, I know, because my husband and I want the kids to avoid the physical and emotional struggles of being overweight. They are big kids. They like to eat. They crave sweets. Not surprising, given a) their mother and b) the prominence and hyping of food in our culture. So they're not the little twig kids other parents complain won't eat. We've never had that problem. Ever.

But we're trying not to be food Nazis, either - so we have dessert 3 times a week, once on the weekend, on whichever day they want. We occasionally splurge on extras. We allow a small "bready" snack every day. After that, it's fruits and veggies between meals.

And my son lets me know what he thinks of that. "Fruits and veggies! Fruits and veggies! That's all we ever have, fruits and veggies!"

It isn't, of course.

I am nothing if not the biggest hypocrite, because I can talk out one cheek about balance and the need for healthy eating, while stuffing the other with Pop Tarts and Hershey bars.

That's why this issue resonates with me - because I don't want either of my kids to be at war with food and self the way I am, and I don't want my hubby and I accidentally drawing battle lines where there needn't be any.

Argh. So I still don't know what to do about the cookie-stealing incident.

I guess I'll think about it while I go find my chocolate stash.

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