Wednesday, October 29, 2008

10-year old addict sells teeth for chocolate, warms it up a little in the microwave before eating it.

This news story hasn't happened yet, but when it happens it will be at my house. The subject will be my daughter, a remarkably intelligent person with a strong will, deep-rooted principles, highly-defined muscles, and practically zero body fat.

However, this is a person on a path to destruction. This child would gladly sell me (her own beloved father) for a half-pound Hershey Bar.

Halloween is coming, and I'm not at all sure the wife and I want to let Daughter go trick-or-treating. We aren't worried she would steal other kids' candy - she's far too kind and principled for that - but already dressed as a ghoul, we are afraid she might begin biting small children in the neck in an attempt to suck the glucose out of their blood.

I don't quite know what to say about my child's addiction to sweets. We don't withhold them from her, setting up unrealistic expectations of how good the sugar will be if she ever gets her hands on it; we haven't made sugar either a consistent reward or a substitute for love. Our son was raised in the same household and is addicted to nothing except the printed word. So I'm pretty sure the fault doesn't lie with the parenting, but we are at a total loss to explain the tantrums when denied dessert; the inability to to perform basic motor functions when in the presence of cake; or the wild-eyed trembling and general sneakiness when presented with the prospect of obtaining sweets.

Two years ago, we were too lazy to actually throw away the remaining Halloween candy while in Daughter's presence (see medical research: Tantrums May Cause Headache and High Blood-Pressure), so we shoved it in the garage somewhere and forgot about it. Then, many months later when I was moving stuff in the garage away from the exploding water heater, I kept finding candy wrappers. Really, really old wrappers.

This is a child who knows better, a child who relies upon her body to do remarkably athletic things. This is a smart child who knows she needs the best fuel her body can get in order to perform amazing gymnastic feats, and yet this is still somebody who would gladly suck dry a bottle of honey and then cry herself to sleep because we would not let her lick a stray drip from the floor. If left unattended, Daughter will make the world's-densest glass of chocolate milk with a regular-sized glass and half the container of Nestle Quik. She will drink this with the aid of a fork.

When Daughter's class delved into a Health unit last year, the wife and I had our hopes dashed by Daughter's completed craft assignment - an elaborately decorated Food Pyramid diagram containing only desserts (doughnuts at the base, mousse on top - I guess the moral is don't overdo the mousse). We didn't know she had colored in some portions with actual maple syrup until the ant problem forced her classroom to relocate.

Daughter learned the unfortunate truth about the Easter Bunny when she set a trap for it (I still have the scar on my ankle).

I recognize that the genes of addiction run strong in her, having inherited them from both parents. As a child I would probably have killed for Hostess Fruit Pies or comic books (and for those of you that read Marvel Comics in the 70's and early 80's you will remember from the ads that Spider-Man always rescued the people with Hostess fruit pies first, but then the bastard ate their pies! And the people were okay with that!). And although I have neither the time nor money to become addicted to alcohol or drugs, I will snarl when members of my family attempt to wrest control of the remote from me while I am playing Xbox. And don't touch my action figures without asking - they're busy doing their action figure thing.

I am also addicted to my wife, but people understand and condone that. Especially if they've met my wife. Well, depending on when they've met my wife. If they've seen her indulging in her own addictions, then they may not have seen her in her brightest light. We have at times had to physically restrain [Wife] from leaving the house burdened with multiple bracelets and necklaces, awkwardly fighting us with the one arm not swaddled in handbags and shuffling ineffectively in the entryway because she is wearing multiple pairs of shoes on only two feet. When the madness passes, she sulks over to the sofa and loses herself in the Dr. PhilView Winfrey Show with the Stars.

But this isn't about the wife and I. It's more about the Tootsie Roll wrapper floating in the toilet.

When a child forgets to flush, it is not usually so whimsical, nor so damning. There is very little defense against the evidence:

**The Tootsie Roll was despondent because Daughter couldn't eat it (braces, ya know), so it rolled itself up the stairs and ended its life in the toilet.
**The wrapper had divorced the candy and was on a journey back to the factory from which it was born.

**An alligator in the sewer was eating illicit Tootsie rolls and had to hide the evidence from its mom, so pushed the wrapper up the pipes.

I worry. I worry about my daughter's future containing binge drinking, bad boyfriends, TV shows with stupid dialogue.

I worry about having to sleep on my own floor in front of my bedroom door tonight because we have barricaded all Halloween candy inside my closet, doling it out one piece at a time as appropriate, like clean needles in an inner-city park.

I worry that she will hock her possessions for Three Musketeers.

So her mother and I, despite our own battles with our health, are doing what good parents do for their children: we are eating the candy ourselves. She will thank us later.

Until then we're watching our backs.