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Tic Freakin' Tacs

I’ve managed to keep Maddie away
from a few things that I know will eventually be a part of her food
repertoire, most noteably gum and soda. We introduced cookies and
cakes and candy at age 2, and have been slowly allowing her to have
a few things a month; I want to raise a healthy child who can make
healthy choices, but not one who is so sucrose-deprived that she
spends her girl scout dues on a Ding Dong, snarfing it guiltily in
the guest bathroom before announcing to her troop leader that Mommy
forgot to giver her cash this week, sorry. But the gum and soda
I’m holding out on for a while more. Daddy drinks diet Coke,
and Maddie accepts that she can’t have any. And no one in the
family really chews gum so that’s not a huge issue either.

But the one thing Maddie’s discovered that she considers
almost more of a treat than chocolate? Tic Tacs.

I don’t know the reasoning here: I
mean, yes, they’re tasty, but Godiva they ain’t. Maybe
it’s that they occupy this sort of nebulous zone in between
“treats” and “regular food”; we’ve
explained them as something you suck on when your mouth tastes
funny, that isn’t candy. Maybe it’s that they look like
kid-sized hard candy.

Whatever the reason, Maddie’s got a fascination with them and
when she’s got it in her head to have one she doesn’t
give up. I’m often inclined to give one to her – I
mean, they’re one-and-a-half calories, how much of a sugar
high could she get – but I don’t always because I
don’t want her to see them as, say, a snack alternative to
Goldfish. And so I think part of the appeal is that Maddie never
knows if her request’s going to be approved or not.

Just yesterday that kid got it into her head to have one, and would
absolutely not shut up about them, to the point that Brian and I
both were ready to stab ourselves in the eye with a straw cup the
next time we heard the word “Tic-Tac”, just to make the
pain go away.

Maddie started out saying her breath was really bad –
something that startles me, since we’ve never mentioned
breath smells to her. But there it was – “Mommy, I need
a Tic-Tac. My breath is really bad.” I told her no, at which
point she went to hit up Daddy.

Devious child.

We were loading ourselves into the car to go to a church dinner,
and Maddie didn’t stop the entire time we saddled up.
“Daddy, I really need a Tic-Tac. Mommy, can I have a Tic-Tac
now? My breath is really making me uncomfortable (where does she
get this???). I really wish I had a Tic-Tac. I’d feel so much
better with a Tic-Tac.” And on and on and on. Somewhere in
there I’d told Maddie she could have one when we got on the
highway, at which point she began saying, “Is it time for a
Tic-Tac yet? Are we on the Tic-Tac highway?”

Which is when Brian said, “Maddie, if you say the phrase
‘Tic-Tac’ one more time before you get one, you will
not be having one tonight.”

Silence. And then –

“Daddy, did you know that ‘Tic’ and
‘Tac’ don’t rhyme? They sound similar, and they
sound good together, but they don’t quite rhyme. No,
‘Tic’ and ‘Tac’ don’t rhyme.”

I was snorting through my nose in an effort to keep my laughs from
coming out of my mouth, and Brian was gripping the steering wheel
in an effort to keep the steam from coming out of his head.
Technically, though, she had not said the phrase – well, you
know – and so wasn’t breaking any rules. I think she
could tell by the silence, though, that she was walking a fine
line, and she said no more about it other than to pose a single
question –

“Are we on the highway yet? Just wondering. Just let me know
when we are, thank you.”

When did my child go straight from toddler to pre-teen?


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