I was sitting in the basement this evening, watching TV and blogging after a rather normal-level harrying day with the kids, and I heard the telltale pounding of a child out of bed. I had already been upstairs twice to deposit him back in his bed, and two flights of stairs twice in 15 minutes was already too much for my unwieldy pregnant self.
So I ignored him. I figured that he would find a book or get tired or come downstairs. Sometimes a mommy just needs to watch "The Shawshank Redemption" and let the little monsters figure out when they are tired for themselves.
But this was perhaps a time when I should have hauled myself up off the couch a little earlier. He had been tromping around upstairs for about 20 minutes and, eternally frustrated that they never seem to be as exhausted as I am, I stormed upstairs to wrestle him back to bed.
As I passed the kitchen sink, I noticed crumpled papers that had not been there before. Upon closer inspection, and investigation in the fridge, I discovered four American cheese wrappers that had been clearly licked clean. These were not cheeses that were cleanly unwrapped; someone had gnawed the cheese out of the plastic.
And there he was, peeking around the corner, totally oblivious to his incriminating trail of evidence. I asked him if he had eaten any cheese, and he counted off on his fingers: "I eat one, two, three, four cheese." An honest thief, at least.
This is not the first instance of sneaky kids stealing food. The other day, he had crept downstairs in the middle of the night and then snuck into bed with us afterward. It was not until the morning light hit that I saw the smear of chocolate on his lower lip and chin. The fridge revealed two chocolate desserts pockmarked with little finger holes.
His sister is equally guilty. We rarely catch her in the act, but she has not quite yet learned to hide the shiny Hershey's kisses wrappers at the bottom of the bathroom garbage.
It makes me wonder a couple of things. Am I not feeding them enough? Am I raising devious little crooks? Should I be locking up anything that is easily unwrapped?
Or perhaps I should take note from an earlier moment of child-thievery. A few months ago, I caught our son digging in the fridge and chased him away, but did not see that he had something in his hand. Thirty seconds later, he came running back in the kitchen, howling as he frantically spit out chunks of blue cheese.
That is the lesson, then. Populate our refrigerator with nothing but smelly cheeses and obscure vegetables, and hide all the Hershey kisses Prohibition-style, in hollow books and under false floorboards.
And maybe sedate them before they go to bed.