The morning after

I trudged into the dining room just before 7 a.m . to find candy wrappers scattered around the floor.

Sitting at the table, Mary ran her hands over her loot. Then the baby’s 2-year-old head turned. She glared at me. The message was clear: she’d cut me if I tried to take the candy away.

“You’re up early,” I said. “Did you sneak down here for a treat?”

A chocolaty smile cracked.

“Candy. Mines. Candy. Mines.”

Her little arms reached out around her cache and swept it toward her.

“Mines candy,” she croaked.

OK, I told her. I asked her if she wanted to go upstairs and give mommy a kiss. She measured me for a minute, then smiled again as she clambered down the chair and toward the staircase.

“Mines candy. Candy. Mines.”

I heard her climb the stairs as recite her mantra as she searched for her mom. Then I quietly gathered up her candy, plopped it into her plastic pumpkin and put it atop the fridge, where her little hands couldn’t get to it.

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