Since toddlerhood Ethan has shown signs of an addictive personality, and that worries me. A couple of years ago, it was "gums."
"Nana I want some gums," he would say to my mom virtually every time he saw her. He'd chew an entire pack at once if we'd let him—he still does, but the obsession has diminished over time—to the extent that I put my foot down and told him one morning, on the way to church no less, "No more gums."
Again, he asked Nana for gums.
"But your Mommy says no more gums."
"I just smell it," he insisted. I nodded assent, my mom handed over the pack, and he pressed it to his tiny nose and took a long, deep drag of the minty opiate, then tucked it down the side of his car seat. Every now and again he'd mindlessly run his fingers along the silver of the packaging.
* * *
Lately his tastes have become more complex. Gum was the gateway to harder, more expensive habits. We're now on to bath soaps.
It all started at DisneyWorld. He said he needed the complimentary toiletries to make soup in the bathroom sink. Where's the harm? I thought.
Several months later and here we are, burning through shampoos, conditioners, bubble baths—any soft soap he can get his hands on—at a rate we can no longer afford to support. We've started buying VO5 to satisfy his need, since it's less than a dollar at the commissary.
On our last trip I brought home some new body wash and shampoo for Noah. I've been storing our ablutionary accessories outside the tub so Ethan doesn't have ready access when in the bath, but he frequently calls me in, asking for them.
"Mommy, I just want the blue one in here. And the green one."
"But you can't play with them."
"I'm not playing with them. I just want them over here."
A minute later when I peek in, I hear the lid of Noah's shampoo snap shut.
"Nothin," he says, slowly pulling his hand back into the tub.