Right about now, parents across this country are calculating, planning and scheming. Their minds are racing with clandestine plots, subversive strategies and covert operations. Theyíre not talking, because their plans are on the ďDLĒ, very hush-hush, absolutely top secret.

You see, itís Halloween, and as much as we wonít admit it, we parents are just like our sticky, chocolate-smeared, sugar-mongering little rug rats.

We want candy too, and lots of it.

The only problem is, unless we want to be involuntarily committed to the local mental ward, parents arenít willing to dress up in Ninja and Princess costumes, carry plastic pumpkin buckets, and knock on neighborsí doors begging for treats. And we certainly canít walk into stores and buy bags of candy for ourselves. Aside from the embarrassment of publicly exposing a fondness for sinking our crowns into copious amounts of snack-sized candy bars, we know that, as long as we sneak the candy without anyone knowing, we wonít gain ten pounds on Halloween.

In order for us to enjoy Halloween treats without unwanted stigma and calories Ė we must resort to fraud, trickery, embezzlement, and occasionally, bold-faced lying; and hereís how to do it:

Before buying Halloween treats, ascertain which candy your kids will not eat, and then go out and buy it. Generally, that candy will be something with coconut, nuts, or some other kid-offending substance, which, ironically, tends to be exactly the kind of candy we adults love to stuff into our gullets. Personally, I fancy Almond Joys, so I always mix several dozen of them together with the Pixie Sticks, Kit Kats, Laffy Taffy and other candy I give out to Trick-or-Treaters on Halloween night.

Interestingly, those Almond Joys parents give out on Halloween night will get traded, recycled back into other treat bowls, and eventually end up in our own kidsí treat bags. When our kids sort through their candy at the end of the night, we will be there to kindly accept their discards.

Itís a win-win for everyone!

Additionally, once the sugared-up little goblins have toddled off to bed, parents may get a hankering for pumpkin-shaped peanut butter cups or bat-shaped chocolate bars. What to do?! Just tiptoe right on over to your kidsí pumpkin buckets and take what you want, silly!

However, be mindful that some kids take inventory of their Halloween booty, so parents must be discreet when poaching kidsí treats. If there is only one Crunch Bar, leave it and take one of the seven Baby Ruths and a couple of stray Tootsie Rolls instead. Also, keep bags of bulky fruit snacks or raisin boxes on hand to pad your kidsí treats in the event that your thievery noticeably depletes their supply.

If the kids become suspicious that someone is eating their candy, act offended while flatly denying the accusations, and for Goodness Sakes, do not leave wrappers lying next to your bed! If pressed, blame it on the dog, the accuserís sibling, or Grandma. This usually works.

Now, I know some of you might be thinking, ďBut we canít steal from our own children, right?Ē

Wrong!

Itís not only acceptable for parents to pilfer candy from their kidsí treat bags on Halloween, it is arguably our God-given parental duty to reduce our childrenís sugar consumption.

Yea, thatís the ticket.

(Editorís note: Lisa Smith Molinari is a† 20-year Navy spouse. She can be contacted at www.themeatandpotatoesoflife.com.)