Snack Jail

There’s a great song by Larry Groce called Junk Food Junkie. If you Google it, you’ll find that it was released in 1976 but don’t dismiss this comic gem because of its age. It’s the story of a man living two lives. By day he is the epitome of natural living: Natural fibers, organic products, vegan meals, composting, recycling, low carbon footprint. But at night, when no one is watching, his alter ego emerges. He binges on Big Macs and twinkies and drinks corn syrup sweetened caffeinated beverages while hiding in his closet.
Why you may ask, does this song strike a chord with me? First, it’s funny and it’s hard to resist a good comedy song. Second, it’s a well-told story. I am truly a sucker for a well-told story. But the most important reason I am using it as a jumping off point for this post is that we have a junk food junkie under our roof.
The boy is always hungry. But that’s pretty normal for a 7-year-old boy. I guess that’s probably pretty normal for any boy of any age. We try to steer him toward relatively healthy snacks. There’s always some sort of fruit in the house. We keep sliced ham in the fridge along with cheese sticks and yogurt. He can easily access these items at any time.
But that’s not what he wants. He loves the cookies and the chips. He wants to wash them down with multiple bottles of ginger ale. We have found him under his bed eating Hershey kisses with the dog and hiding in a closet with a whole bag of chocolate chip cookies watching his tablet. It’s not that we don’t allow him these things. I mean, if they were totally off limits we wouldn’t even have them in the house. However, we do try to limit their consumption to small amounts at specific times. Yet, the boy can’t seem to grasp this concept.
When he was smaller it was easy to keep the junk food out of reach. A high shelf was a simple and convenient hiding spot. Sadly, the boy has continuously found this to be nothing more than a challenge. Step stools and chairs have been dragged across the kitchen in his attempts to reach the sweet and salty snacks. Thankfully that dragging has been a primary tool in thwarting him. Being quiet is not one of his strengths. At least until recently.
Over the last several months, on an almost daily basis, we have walked into the kitchen to find evidence of his junk food habit: the step stool out of place, snack debris on the counter, the cabinet door hanging open. A few more steps take us to his toy room where he has 3 bottles of ginger ale sitting on the table, the dog licking the remnants from his snack plate and a caught-red-handed look on his face as he tries to hide his hands behind his back. Each time we tried to make him understand that all the junk food isn’t healthy and that he could hurt himself climbing up in the cabinets. But he only hears the siren call of Pringles and Chocolate Chips.
We finally reached the conclusion that there was only one solution. Nothing so drastic as completely removing the snacks. (That would just punish the rest of us.) No, the snacks had to go to jail. My husband bought a latch and a padlock with a three-number combination. He rearranged the cabinet so that all the snacks would fit inside, affixed the latch, and attached the padlock. Problem solved, right?
Upon finding the snack cabinet locked the boy exclaimed in alarm and lamented the loss of his sneaky snacks. He then informed his father that he would figure out the combination. Over the next 24 hours, we repeatedly found chairs and step stools next to the cabinet. The tumblers were moved from the last spot we left them. The boy was trying his hardest to figure out that combination. Until finally I entered the kitchen and found the cabinet open, the lock sitting on the countertop. It took him less than 48 hours. And when confronted he just laughed and showed me the spoils he had pilfered from his beloved snack cabinet.
When I informed my husband of the jailbreak he was speechless. Now, in complete transparency, we didn’t actually believe the boy could figure out the combination. So, we had left it at the default code. And we weren’t necessarily diligent in randomizing all the tumblers each time the cabinet was opened. Fortunately, the combination could be reset. And that’s what we have done. A new combination. The snacks are once again locked up.
Poor snacks. I know it’s not their fault the boy has no self-control. But until we can teach him the concept of moderation they must remain tucked away. We’re hopeful we will get there one day. In the meantime, I’m still finding chairs and step stools in the kitchen.
He’s a Junk Food Junkie. Lord have mercy on him.

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