My four year old is addicted to sugar.

I know this for a fact, not because he asks for sugary treats multiple times throughout the day (which he does), but because on a recent night when I cracked down and firmly told him dinner was the end of the evening’s gastronomic highlights, he followed a few minutes later by asking:

“Can I have a cough drop?’

I’m pretty sure other type of addictions lead desperate people to ingest all manner of cough medications, so his quick leap into this level of thinking sort of caught me off guard. We clearly have a problem on our hands.

Yes, I can quit buying the stuff, which I do…then the next thing I know it’s Valentine’s Day or Easter and the rush revs up all over again. I do throw it all away, unless there’s something in that paper sack Momma wants, which of course there always is.

Which, like all of parenting, brings the problem back to me. My daughter loses her temper easily? Sure she does–Mom does it all the time. Oldest son is obsessed with shoes? Learned it from Daddy. Sugar addiction? Guilty as charged. I find it’s helpful in life to always have someone to blame for whatever problems come up, which is why I had kids in the first place. It’s just not supposed to work the other way around, at least not until they’re 40 and in therapy.

But Oscar’s Wonka-like candy obsession is really out of hand, so I’ve tried getting creative lately in order to make the main dinner event more interesting to him and not just something to endure (three bites or four, Mommy?) in order to get to Candy Land. My solution of late is the carpet picnic–which proves I really should be a parenting consultant.

Your presentation doesn't have to get fussy, as shown here. Food lying on the floor is interesting enough to entice most kids.

Your presentation doesn’t have to get fussy, as shown here. Food lying on the floor is interesting enough to entice most kids.

Carpet picnics are exactly what you’d imagine. When the weather outside is frightful, I lay down a big blanket on the floor, top it with a couple of kitchen towels to set the food on, and we all gather around for a much more relaxed family dinner.

Rather than fuss or negotiate about number of bites, Oscar laughs and tends to try new foods. And rather than feel stressed out by his dinner attitude, I tend to turn on music, have a glass of wine and lean against the couch enjoying my kids. If only blankets and food on the floor could solve all of life’s little issues.

For my own sugar addiction, it’s been a daily battle. I gave it up for Lent, and I’ll confess to being only moderately successful with this commitment thus far.

Cough drops are getting me through it.