Some of you may judge me for this. I know that ahead of time.
But, a few of you will understand.
And maybe you do this yourself from time to time.
It started a few years ago, when Cole was around 4.
I locked myself in the bathroom, hoping for privacy.
Cole, being part cat, tried to paw me out from under the door.
“What are you doing?” he wanted to know.
“Nothing!” I cried.
“I can see your feet! What are you doing?!”
He frantically started hitting the door. ‘Let me in!”
His howls were now becoming far too loud and would soon draw attention.
I had to do the unthinkable.
I had to let him in.
“What are you doing?” he asked again.
I swallowed. “Nothing.”
He sniffed the air then shot an accusatory glance at me. “I smell chocolate,” he declared.
I couldn’t hide it any longer.
I had hid in the one room with a lock to eat a candy bar.
A precious, precious candy bar.
Without sharing it with anyone else.
Cole readied himself to wail – what kind of horrible person hid to eat a candy bar and didn’t share with her child?
It wasn’t that I was necessarily hiding to keep it from Cole.
But maybe I was trying to hide it from someone else.
Like his father.
I quickly promised the child his own candy bar, or maybe a trip to Dairy Queen if he would keep it on the down low. He lowered his eyes and agreed, already plotting to get both.
Over the years, I found other hiding places but they have not been nearly as effective.
I thought my office would be ideal, in all of its cluttered confusion.
I successfully hid bags of Dove for a while, until my hiding spot was one day discovered.
When I reached under the carefully placed envelopes and magazines in the basket, the bag was empty.
Except for a few wrappers, evidence of the transgression that had occurred.
He had found my candy. And ate it.
How did he find my hiding space? How did he even know I had candy?
I asked all these questions aloud to the empty bag of Dove milk chocolate.
“I think he noticed you kept coming in here,” a voice answered.
It was Cole; not the bag.
“You kept getting up and walking in here for a few minutes. I think he wondered what you were doing.”
And, I foolishly didn’t hide the wrappers I put in the trash.
Had I really gotten so lackadaisical I didn’t cover up my tracks?
“I will have to find another hiding spot,” I said, sinking into my chair.
“He will keep looking until he finds it,” Cole whispered.
Much like Liam Neeson hunting down his daughter’s kidnappers in Taken, Lamar would sniff out every square of chocolate I had until it was no more. And he would eat it, shamelessly.
I have known for over 13 years now that I have to strategically hide chocolate from him. Lamar doesn’t know it but we almost broke up once over a Girl Scout cookie. Well, two actually. He came over one night – to eat leftover pizza—even though I told him I was near death and shivering on the couch. “I am just coming by to eat the pizza and watch some TV,” he promised. How romantic, I thought dryly as I hung up the phone. I snoozed on the couch while he ate the leftovers and watched some bicycling documentary on cable. Before he left, he had kissed my head and told me had already taken the evil beagle out and for me to lock my deadbolt.
The next morning, all I could think of was Thin Mints and Samosas – the fresh boxes I had bought on my way home and had been too sick to eat.
Surely, cookies and coffee would make me better.
There was one each left in the box.
Lamar was dangerously close to be permanently single that day.
After we married, he ate my birthday chocolate bar that our neighbor brought me.
I had hid it, too, mind you, tucked behind some condensed soup and other stuff that I knew he wouldn’t even give a second glance to. But he knew there was a chocolate bar in the house and he had to eat it.
Now, he was not only finding the stuff in the cabinets or pantry, he was brazenly coming into my office, rifling through the papers and stuff to find the chocolate.
I didn’t know what to do. Should I hide it in plain sight? Or maybe get one of those hollow books that people hide their valuables in?
“Mama!” Cole cried one day as he looked over the shelves in the pantry. His box of Little Debbies was gone, or rather, the empty box was sitting on the shelf.
“I put my name on them,” he said forlornly.
“Your daddy doesn’t pay attention to that,” I said, empathizing. “I don’t think he cares, either.” If he would eat a king size chocolate bar in a bright pink wrapper that read, “For you, Birthday Girl!” I don’t think a sticky note with the name “Cole” in permanent marker was going to stop him.
“You’ve got to start hiding food,” I said simply. “You need a hiding spot – one better than mine – and you need to hide your treats. Your daddy is worse than a bear.”
Little Debbies, root beer – anything Cole put back to enjoy later, like during one of his favorite shows, his father would find and eat.
A few weeks later, Cole found a small Coleman cooler at the store. It was just big enough for a six pack of Barq’s and some Strawberry Shortcake rolls.
It worked, too, for about two weeks. “Hey, this is a neat little cooler! What’s in it?” we heard his father say.
The other day I found a wrapper in the bathroom trash. I didn’t say a word, I just helped hide the evidence.