We have established that I am addicted to sugar. But I have not opened up about my son, Ben, much at all. All kids like sugar, right? But do they all know exactly where every piece of sugar sweetened food in the house is? Do they all keep their copies of "My First Word Board Book" not out of nostalgia, but because the counting pages are pictures of gradually larger groups of different delicious looking foil wrapped and sugar encrusted sweets? Are the first words out of their mouths in the morning "What do I get to have for dessert after lunch?" I finally got so sick of this question that I threatened to throw out the (leftover Christmas) candy if he asked it one more time. Then he did, so I did. It was not one of my prouder parenting moments. I'm afraid I did not conduct myself with patience and understanding. But I do understand - I understand the allure of sugar. I am, in the true sense of the word, addicted to sugar, and I'm afraid to say that Ben is too. He is like a little sugar junkie jonesing for his next fix, and I am alternately his supplier and his parole officer. Many of you might read this and wonder what the big deal is. It's just sugar. No. Unfortunately it is never "just" anything. For me it is insecurity, and anger, and self consolation and self destruction and many, many other things. It is definitely not just sugar. I am really terrified that this will be the legacy I hand down to my child. I have a brother who struggled for most of his life with alcohol addiction, a sister who continually struggles with food addiction and it's associated weight problems. I am packing on the pounds myself. It's not something you can just stop - ask any addict of anything. My brother stopped only because he finally realized that getting drunk did not make him permanently forget how much his life sucked, or make any of the problems disappear. Drinking was a problem, and in order to make that problem go away, he had to stop drinking. There are still problems, he has just had to find a new coping system. That is exactly what sugar has become for me: a coping system. From the first time Grandma gives her adored grandchild a cookie to get them to stop crying... can you see where I'm going with this? Sugar = comfort = love. Yes, Ben does loooooove his grandma. He calls her a "sugar lady." Incidentally, my mom can't eat sugar herself. Well, she's not supposed to eat sugar. She is pretty much pre-diabetic, but still loves the sugar. And loves giving it to Ben, like a vicarious high I suppose. A few days after I stood in front of a tear-streaked Ben, holding the zip-lock baggie of leftover candy (all of which I bought) over the kitchen trash can, my mom showed up with a giant bag of peanut Valentine's M&M's. "Share them with your mom and dad." she told him I ate well over half of them. I hated myself for being weak. Sugar is also punishment: I hated myself for being mean to Ben. Ben, in his imaginative play, has "pretend" sugar that is "not bad for you." And he is happy eating a banana for dessert after lunch, but not as happy as he would be if you gave him a banana split. He tries to understand about making healthy choices. He loves dried mangoes and will happily accept them as dessert. He has tried my sugar free brownies, but is not a fan of the nuts in them. And yes, he does get sugar, we are not completely crazed sugar nihilists. I am just at a loss as to how to get him to stop focusing so intently on where his next sugar is going to come from. I really do know what I need to do. It starts with me turning myself around. I need to stop using sugar to console or punish myself. I need to ask my mom to stop giving us candy. I need to gently direct Ben toward healthy choices. And I need to occasionally let him have a treat. This is not about self-deprivation. I love my son, I don't want to deprive him of anything - I don't want him to say "You never let me..." But I'm sure I will never, ever live down the showdown at the kitchen trash can.