According to National Geographic Kids, 97% of parents secretly eat their kids’ Halloween candy. Which means that 3% of the population is just lying.
One of the underappreciated privileges of parenthood is raiding your children’s candy stash after they go to bed. The trick is to pick things that they (1) don’t like or (2) have a plethora of. For years, the boys only liked fruit candy (Skittles, Starbursts, gummy anything) which left me free to enjoy all of the chocolate based items with impunity. Billy, who shares tastes similar to the boys, had to be more circumspect.
This year, as Jack was gleefully graphing his candy haul (best homework assignment EVER), he casually mentioned how much he loved chocolate and then slowly looked up at me and raised an eyebrow.
The kind of eyebrow your friend raised when you declared you were never again going to fall in love with someone who didn’t treat you well. The kind of eyebrow that you raised when your sweetie stayed in bed all morning while swearing that he only had two beers the night before. The kind of eyebrow your parents raised when you told them the reason for your bad grade was solely because the teacher just didn’t like you for some unknown reason.
THAT eyebrow. From my 7 year old. The one who knew I was stealing his candy all these years but never said a word.
And in that little raised eyebrow, my sweet boy, I could see all the secrets we will share together. The eyebrows we will raise at each other that say “I know. But I’m going to let it slide because we’re in this together.” Silly things like stealing all your Halloween chocolate. But also all the things you won’t know how to tell me.
The days when you will brusquely declare that it doesn’t bother you that your blisters prevent you from being part of the football or basketball team. You won’t have to tell me that you are actually angry and sad that your DNA – the DNA that I gave you – has made you different from everyone else. I will know.
The times when you will harumph that it’s fine when we won’t allow you to stay up late, or watch a TV show, or play video games all day, or do any of the things that all your other friends do. You won’t need to tell me you resent me for not letting you grow up too fast. I will know.
The afternoons you will stiffly shrug off my hugs in front of your peers. You won’t need to tell me that you are torn between wanting my affection and being embarrassed. I will know.
The times when you will call home late at night, in a tight and clipped voice. You won’t need to tell me that you have gotten yourself into a situation that makes you uncomfortable and you need me to come get you. I will know.
The moment when you will say, with an air of nonchalance, how great it is that your best friend is dating some girl. You won’t have to tell me that your heart is broken because you secretly love her too. I will know.
The weeks when you will pull away from the closeness of our family. You won’t have to tell me that you are detaching yourself from us as you prepare to go away to college and live on your own. I will know.
The day you can’t hide the smile on your face when you look at the girl you have brought to dinner. You won’t have to tell me that she is The One. I will know.
The time you will look at your baby with wide eyes and a soft smile. You won’t need to tell me that you finally understand how much I love you. I will know.
The moments that you will look at me and wonder if I am going to miss your children’s lives just like my father missed yours and his father missed mine. You won’t need to tell me you are scared. I will know.
I will always know. Because I have been there and I remember. But also because I know you. I will be able to tell – in a way that no one else can – what every smile, every wrinkle in your face, every contortion of posture, and every look in your eyes mean. And most of the time, we will talk about whatever it is, the good and the bad. But sometimes I will just raise my eyebrow to simply let you know we are in this together.