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I have always been a chocolate lover. Even as a kid, I disliked candy and gum, but wave a piece of chocolate goodness in front of me and I’d be your slave for life. The fact that I also suffered from migraines (often triggered by chocolate) was incidental. I was never the sort to suffer for my art, but I would and DID suffer for my chocolate. I would have my chocolate and damn the consequences. My drug of choice. And, like a true addict, I kept a hidden stash at all times.

When I became a mother, it was hard to keep my Personal Chocolate out of reach of my kids. Oh, there was always the ‘family’ store of cocoa mix (to be eaten dry from the can by desperate little urchins), or the ‘baking supplies’…the semi-sweet chocolate and chocolate chips. I gave up trying to pretend that was anything but fair game to the kids.

And so I became more and more devious at creating hiding places for The Good Stuff (the pricey, often organic, dark, rich bars). I considered hiding them out in the open (thus making them less special and less of a target to the kids) or chaining them to the counter…but I knew that my ingenious offspring would somehow manage to destroy the counters, choke themselves with the chains, and after all that, STILL consume the chocolate. And what they didn’t get, the dog would — thus necessitating a trip to the vet’s for a stomach pump and a bill of $200. By hiding the treats, I was saving everyone — up to and including the dog.

You might wonder why my kids were so hell bent on finding my chocolate stash. That’s because, as children with many food allergies, they were not supposed to have chocolate. They were allowed carob as a substitute. Do you have any idea, dear readers, how much pent-up emotion and rage can collect in three small bodies thus deprived? Special holidays such as Christmas and Easter (chocolate intense occasions) were a horror in our house. The kids should have been on suicide watch. I was. They were desperate for chocolate treats wrapped in shiny foil…the treats that all their friends would be getting. I felt sorry for them. Carob Santas and bunnies just don’t cut it. I knew that and tried my best…but it was never enough. It is with this as a background that I explain my adult childrens’ chocolate cravings. And why I play the ‘find the stash’ game with them well into their thirties.

It began when Gill lived with me during her “I’m never gonna find a job” period. Granted, she became a bit depressed — justifiably so. And so, my chocolate supply became a target. I hid it in the drawer beside the stove — under the oven mitts and garbage bags. Since Gill didn’t have much to do with either cooking or garbage removal, I figured my little chocolate delights were safely ensconced. I figured wrong.

I believe she waited until I was out and then squeezed a confession from Poochie as to the whereabouts…Poochie wasn’t great at keeping secrets, especially if Gill was involved. And so, my supply began to dwindle. I changed locations several times, even using the freezer in the garage. But Gill always found the treasure. I don’t know why I expected any less from her. She was the instigator, years before, when she and her siblings licked the icing between the layers of her father’s cookie stash–leaving only the cookie part.  But this was the fine-tuning required of a ‘snatch and grab’ gang. And Gill was never one to let her best talents go to waste.The lot of them should have auditioned for Ocean’s 13.

Towards the end of Gill’s visit this year, Crazy D turned up and, blushing ever so slightly, handed me a bag with two large organic chocolate bars inside. “This is to replenish your supply, Mom,” he explained.

Taken aback, I asked, “Have you been eating My Personal Stash as well?”

“Yup. Gill told me where it was. You had us stumped for a while! But at least now we have the good grace to feel bad about eating it. Maybe we’re finally growing up.”

“Nope,” I replied. “You’re still my canny little chocolate thieves. But just a head’s up — my friends brought me some chocolate truffle bars from Trader Joe’s in the States. You are NOT to touch those. They are ALL MINE!”

Gill, standing beside her brother, looked guilty. “What?” I shrieked. “You’ve already eaten them, haven’t you?!!!”

Her grin said it all.