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Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween candy

Stepping off the school bus she locked onto my gaze and the first words out of her mouth were Can I have my candy? She marched into the house, dropping her coat and backpack as she walked, until she stood in the middle of the hallway. Not even waiting for me to close the door or take off my own coat she asked Can I have my candy? Considering that she had been denied the candy at breakfast she probably thought she had demonstrated outstanding patience by waiting until 10:41 am.

Yes I said. You can have your candy and handed over the lollipop, or Popsicle as she had been calling it, that I had confiscated from her that morning. I really didn't think that it would be a good idea to send her off to kindergarten hopped up on sugar. Much better that she be hopped up on sugar around me. Right?

I have no problem with sugar. I quite like sugar myself. I have even gotten over the habit of automatically halving the sugar called for in every recipe. It was a throwback to my childhood and it drove the husband crazy. If you are going to use sugar then use the sugar he would say. So now I use the sugar.

What I like is sugar in moderation. I was never a chocolate lover until I got pregnant so I could make my bag of Halloween candy last until Christmas. It always felt like a personal victory if I still had a few pieces hanging around by the New Year. By then I would have gotten some Christmas candy and my challenge became making that last until Easter.

While I may not have focused on the eating of the candy as a child, I was highly focused on collecting the candy. I liked to plan my trick-or-treat routes to optimize my candy acquisition and minimize the number of dark houses and one sided streets. Halloween is serious business. A quick treat-or-treat with a few Halloween apples thrown in to break up the rhythm and before you know it the pillow case is being dragged from house to house.

Walking the cold, dark streets last night I thought of that younger me as I watched the husband sprint to keep up with the girl and her two friends. The girl was quick like a flash as she climbed the stairs in her Snow White costume handed down from my cousins, a large tear where the skirt and bodice met attesting to the sacrifices that must be made in the name of candy. Up to the front door and down again she went as she tried to keep up with the others and they tried to keep up with her.

From half a block away I watched her and her posse cross the street to start back down the other side. I held the boy's pink mitted hand in mine, stopping to ask him if he would like to trick-or-treat at this house. Sometimes he said yes, sometimes no. Eventually I picked up my tired grey mouse and carried him in my arms, pulling the wagon he refused to sit in behind me.

Back home the boy's bag was full and the girl's was fuller. With the lateness of the hour and their collective tiredness, neither protested too much when they were only allowed one treat before bed. The girl's request to sleep with her bag of candy was refused, me imagining her waking in the middle of the night to sort through it looking for suckers, and only after the bags were tucked away in a spot deemed secure enough did the kids both head up to bed.

As she ages the girl will come to understand the wisdom of sleeping with her hard earned bag of candy. Shortly after both kids were asleep I sat on the couch picking through the bags and sorting them into keep and giveaway piles. Some for them, some for me. I mean, some for them, some for the husband to take to work. I did leave the kids a bit of everything in equal numbers. This morning I found myself wishing I had left them even less.

When not having to deal with the girl's constant question of Can I have my candy?, I had to listen to her asking when she can have another one. The lollipop I handed her in the front hallway was quickly devoured, as was the chocolate bar the boy chose. When I asked him where his candy was he opened his mouth to show me the entire bar he had fit in his mouth and was happily chewing on.

I said No more. I was going to be firm. Then the girl found a lollipop on the floor. Before I noticed she was hiding under a blanket on the couch clutching the lollipop tightly in her grip. I decided I couldn't face the physical fight needed to free it from her grasp. She said she wouldn't eat it but every so often I would hear rustling sounds. When I saw she was carefully peeling back one corner to lick it, I caved and told her she could have it after she ate her lunch. She was pleased. After she ate it she started asking for more.

Bringing candy into the house is complicated, especially when neither of the kids are used to it. The boy isn't as interested, but I am pretty sure the girl would sit happily on the floor and work her way through her entire bag. And I would live in fear of a repeat of last year the entire time.

Halloween treats do have their usefulness. By mid-afternoon I was desperate to lie down and close my eyes. I grabbed two small bags of chips on the way up the stairs and sent the kids to eat them in the playroom. I crawled underneath the covers in my warm bed and spent a blissful two minutes doing nothing but listening to the loud crunching sounds from down the hallway. Eyes closed, I said a quick Halloween thank you as I heard their feet come pounding towards me and then any other thoughts were lost as I tried to defend myself against the onslaught of little bodies climbing on top of mine.


  1. I admire your ability to moderate your own candy intake. Much like your daughter, I'm pretty sure I could sit down and eat a whole bag at once. And then I would feel extremely sick, but I still wouldn't learn.

  2. My parents, on the advice of our dentist, used to let us eat as much candy as we wanted on Halloween. We then had to throw out everything that was full of sugar, meaning we could keep the chips, pretzels, nuts and things like that, but all of the chocolate and candy got tossed.

    We haven't gone that route with our kids, but I must admit that I sometimes consider it when I'm dealing with the begging and the insisting that, no, they don't want cereal or a bagel for breakfast, they just want candy (not an option!).

  3. We (I) do the candy tapdance every year. The pragmatist in me thinks it is just plain wrong and wasteful to let them collect huge amounts, only to dump it at work or throw it out. The health-conscious mom in me wants to seriously limit the quantities. My husband has no inner conflict - he would let them eat it all without even giving it a second thought.

    We generally settle on the compromise that they can have some candy (generally 3 pieces) after supper every night for the first week. After that, they are allowed one or two pieces on regular dessert nights (Friday & Saturday). Sure, the candy gets stale and lasts until next summer, but they're okay with that; they're kids.

  4. Our children had no less than FOUR candy bags this year!! We went to the zoo one weekend, we went to a campground one weekend, they brought home candy bags from school, and FINALLY we went T or Ting!! GAH!! The candy was OVERFLOWING!! So I have no qualms about letting them pick out what they want, then taking the rest away...until the next MONTH of Halloween!! :D