Dawn. The subtle, cold light of the December morning creeping in through the window easily wakes me. My eyes open, and I survey my surroundings. Dog poster on the wall, Spider-man toy clutched in my hand, other toys still strewn about the bed from when I snuck them in last night when my parents thought I was sleeping. Sleep: one of my most persistent of foes. It had slowed me down for a while, but it can no longer hold me, keep me from my main objective. That objective, of course, is treats. My mission is simple: find the treats, and consume them; find more, and consume those. The thought of not accomplishing my mission is too painful to consider—I will push it from my mind. For now I have to get moving … for the treats… the treats. They will not find themselves.
I exit my room, still wearing my dinosaur jammies. The house is quiet. Mama and Daddy must still be upstairs, in bed. I consider my options. The advent calendars are on the counter, tantalizingly within reach of my small, adorable hands. Oh, advent calendars— how I long for those treasure troves, full to the brim of delicious chocolate treats nesting teasingly behind tiny, enticing doors. I know I could tear those flimsy things open and have immediate access to all the wondrous treats inside, but I also know the trouble that decision would inevitably bring. For it is the adults who are the keepers of the treats, and with them it has been my experience that a softer touch, like a single persistent whine, or continuously asking for treats in a repetitive and constant manner will inevitably result in a more steady supply of treats. In my position, of course, it is important to think long-term.
And so I bypass the advent calendars, and instead make my way upstairs. I find Mama and Daddy sleeping in their bed. This is always curious to me, how these people could so easily be eating treats, and yet they choose to sleep? I nudge the mama one. She groans, and turns over. I nudge her again. I’ve played it cool long enough—I decide to make an attempt.
“Mama?” I say, making my voice as sweet and engaging as possible. “Can I have some treats? I want a treat.”
She looks at me, groggily. “You, what? No. You can’t have a treat! It’s still dark outside—please. Go back to bed.”
She buries her head in the pillow. I weigh my options. I have had success with this mama one before, but I decide to try another angle. I gently, silently, like a silver fox stalking it’s prey, stroll over to the daddy’s side of the bed. He is asleep—I begin repeatedly poking at the exposed flesh of his back with my finger. I choose my words carefully, and prepare my eyes so that they are just moist enough, my brows furrowed ever-so slightly, so I look as pitiful as I possibly can, almost sickly. And then:
“Daddy,” I say, sweetly and sorrowfully, “I’m hungry. Can I just have a treat?”
I make sure my voice goes up slightly at the end, to indicate the hope it would provide to my desperate situation to be granted a treat, or two, or five. Daddy is not in a good mood, as it turns out.
“Go back to sleep. No treats, it’s sleeptime,” he grunts.
I weigh my options, yet again. I can keep going with this technique, though it may not be as effective as I might hope. Or I can loosen them up with another request—pave the way to a later treat. I go back around to the mama’s side.
“Mama? Mama? Can I play on the iPad?”
She grunts and hands me the iPad. Excellent. These adults … they’ll do anything for a few more minutes of sleep. It’s disgusting, really. I enjoy a few minutes on the iPad, until the mama’s alarm goes off, and she realizes how late it is. She flies out of bed and heads downstairs to get my brother ready for school. I decide it’s as good a time as any to ask for a treat.
“Mama! A treat? Can I have a Trrrreat?”
Busy throwing sandwiches together and matching socks from the dryer, she barely has time to look up at me and say: “Ah! Not right now!”
It’s what I’ve been waiting for.
“When Mama? Wheen? Whhhhhennnnnn? When can I have a treat?”
“You need to eat your BREAKFAST!”
“After I eat breakfast can I have a treat?? Please! Oh, pretty please with a cherry on top, mamaaaaa?!”
Again, what I’ve been waiting for. I scarf down two bites of the Cheerios she has hastily thrust before me, and open my Cheerio-filled mouth to speak. The plan is working perfectly.
“I athe ma thhheeerios, can Ah hathve a treeat?”
“Finish your Cheerios!”
I scarf down two more bites.
“Now, mama!? Can I hathve my advent thchocolate?”
She has her head in the fridge. “Did you finish your Cheerios?”
“I don’t WAANT anymore. I’m full of Cheerios!” I muster.
She sighs. “Two more bites, and THEN you’re done.”
Perfect. I take two microscopic bites of cheerio dust and then set upon her, once again.
“I’m FINISHED! Now you said I could have my advent chocolate!”
She sighs, and looks up at the roof. I don’t know why she does that.
“FINE.” She says. “Have your advent chocolate. But that’s IT. NO MORE TREATS until at least after lunch! So, please, STOP ASKING!”
And with that, I know that the game is once again afoot. I wrestle the hard-won advent chocolate from its magic christmassy cardboard door, my thoughts churning all the while around the newest barrier between me and the treats—lunch. My strategy: continue to ask for them, before, after and during lunch. That’ll work.