When the sisters were about 18 months old and 3, they picked out Whiskers at a shelter. The family had to wait three days before picking HIM up once he was neutered. That's when Olson's oldest stated her preference for a girl pet.
"My husband and I discussed it and decided we would just tell them it was a girl, so Whiskers has spent most of his life wearing girl doll clothes and pink bows. When the girls accompanied me to a vet appointment, I called ahead and requested that they refer to Whiskers as a 'her,'" Olson said.
Fast forward about seven years, when her oldest was flipping through a cat care book that got her thinking something was amiss.
"She tells me she thinks Whiskers is a boy. I feign ignorance," mom said. "She's almost 13 and I still haven't told her the truth."
Elisabeth Wilkins in Portland, Maine, is the editor of Empoweringparents.com, dedicated to helping parents change kids' questionable behavior. But Wilkins is also something else: a third-generation chocolate hider, on the matriarchal side.
"My brother and I would find it in the coat closet or the back of the freezer," she said. "My aunt had a very sensitive nose and was able to sniff it out."
Her son is now 11 and inherited that sensitive chocolate nose. At 4 or 5, Wilkins relied on the old "mommy's vegetables" response when he caught a whiff of the dark stuff on her breath.
"I'd say, 'Oh, I just had some broccoli,' or I'd say an onion and he'd go, 'Ew' and walk away," Wilkins laughed.
She and her husband aren't so strict as to never allow their offspring a bite of chocolate. She just wasn't sure she wanted to reveal exactly how obsessed she was — and she wanted to reserve the good stuff for herself.