It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Halloween Candy

What a lot of good ideas you all had! Turns out most of you are Rationers to one degree or another. Rationers with a side of Hoarders, Rationers who Hide some but not all.

I rather like the new option you provided me, which I’m calling the Traders. I see Anastasia and Bethany’s objection to the “Halloween Fairy” — do we really need another layer of cutesy pretense and complication? — but I do like the idea of giving kids the option of trading in all or part of their candy for a gift. Maybe your child would honestly prefer a new Lego accessory or a couple of books instead of the extra eight pounds of candy. What a good option!

Another terrific idea: Turning the chocolate into a fondu! An idea the whole family can enjoy. Heck, you could throw a party. That way, the chocolate gets shared among many, instead of consumed by one or two, it is eaten with healthy fruit, and becomes a social event for the whole family. A really good option. I suspect gummi worms would not work for this project.

Like Kristy, I’m bemused by all the children who get bored by candy. In my years of daycare and parenting, I’ve only known one child who didn’t have a sweet tooth. Every other kid I’ve known? Would happily devour the entire Halloween bag in a couple of days to a week, given the opportunity.

There’s only one true Glutton in the list, the person who lets the child eat the entire bag, at the pace of their choosing.

And me? I was of the Glutton camp. I understand — and approve of! — the value of teaching a child the skills of impulse control and moderation. However, if the result of that is candy every day? For months on end? That’s not a lesson I wanted to teach my kids, either. Candy is not something you get every day. It’s an occasional treat.

Now, I could have controlled that, too. I could have put the candy aside and let them have some a day or two a week. But that would have been our treats for the entire year. I’d rather some of our treats be a trip to the ice cream store, or dessert after dinner. (We have dessert in our home maybe once a month. Maybe. Sweets are occasional treats.) I didn’t want to be monitoring that damned bag for the entire year.

So, the combined result of principle and laziness … a total Halloween glut. My kids (as I did as a child) came home, dumped their bags out on the living room floor, and together, the three of them, sorted, traded, bartered. And yes, tossed. There were some things that all three of them agreed were gross.

Mum got her share, too, of course. (Chips! Doritos!) Some were set aside for Christmas stockings. And the rest? They took their bags to their rooms, and I ignored them. About a week later, I’d go into their rooms and clean up the wrappers, etc. And yes, for that week, we were especially diligent about pre-bed tooth-brushing!

And so, within a week, it was done. Over. Until next year.

It’s not a solution that everyone would choose, and that’s fine, of course. I’m not telling anyone how they should do it, just telling you how I did it. The result for my kids is young adults who are at a good weight for their height and build, and who eat well and healthfully… and who indulge in treats on occasion. Could you get that result with another approach? Of course! One abberant night in a year does not make a pattern. It’s the consistent lessons and patterns of the other, normal 364 days that teach and train!

November 1, 2011 - Posted by | food, health and safety, holidays | , , , , , ,


  1. We’re gluttons too! Halloween and Easter are the two days a year with unfettered access to candy. After a day or two of gluttony I donate the remainders.

    Comment by barneyneuberger | November 1, 2011 | Reply

  2. Well, I would say it is about part nurture AND part nature (i.e., personality). My parents raised my sister and me with the whole “occasional sweet” rule and they also did the gluttony-within-reason thing with the Halloween candy to help us learn self-control. Basically, they did everything right, we were both raised on fresh organic garden vegetables and fruit, home-cooked meals for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner (mom baked her own wheat bread and froze our garden produce, made homemade tomato sauce, etc.). We rarely had juice, were raised on water, and got large amounts of time outside to play and work with the family. AND? My sister has always been a healthy eater, with good habits in cooking, veggie consumption, self-regulation of sweets, etc. Me, on the other hand? I was a candy junkie who would do pretty much anything I could think of for sweets my whole entire life. And when I went to college, I gained way more than the freshman 15 because I finally had unfettered access to junk food. I don’t think I touched a vegetable or a fruit my first year of college. Since then, I have continued to fight with my sweet tooth. On the other hand, I have some cavities, but my sister, the healthy one? Has a mouth full of them, simply because she inherited the soft enamel that is on my father’s side. Seriously, she will most likely need dentures by the time she’s 50, and it has nothing to do with how she eats or brushes/flosses (which is 3 times a day). So yes, I think some of it probably comes from nurture, but you can do all the nurturing you want and still come up with two kids with vastly different relationships with junk food (and vastly different mouths).

    Comment by Kiki | November 2, 2011 | Reply

  3. So I wasn’t at all concerned about over consumption because we weren’t going to too many homes. Right? Didn’t work. People gave huge handfuls of candy to each child, so the small neighborhood loop provided tons of candy. I’m still not concerned with my kids’ eating habits- they ration themselves- but we still have much too much candy around. I sent a big bag with my husband already, and will be either giving away more or throwing away more soon.

    My mother used to schedule dentist appointments one week after Easter and one week after Halloween. All candy needed to be gone by that date. It might be time for me to start this policy so the candy bowl gets empty by whatever means needed.

    Comment by My Kids Mom | November 2, 2011 | Reply

  4. I agree with you. It’s a special occasion… why not let them eat pig out! It’s not like it happens all of the time.

    Comment by Jo Green | November 2, 2011 | Reply

  5. We dont celebrate it here in the way you do, the kids dress up a little, go to a few few pre arrranged houses and Jude came home with no more than a sandwhich bag of sweets, which he €put in the fridge and has forgotton about as they were not sweets of his choosing, he is very particular!

    Growing up my parents were of the mind set that sweets were a treat, we were allowed to have one biscuit bar in our lunch box but we had to have eaten all the fruit, sandwiches etc, my grandparents however being of the post war and rationing mindset equated love and prosperity with sugar and still do, if you visit they bring out more cake, chocolate and biscuits and fizzy drinks that you could ever eat. My great gran used to encourage me to eat sugar straight from the bowl, how I have teeth is beyond me.

    Now though my weight is an issue because I see sugar as a treat and feel denied if I dont feed my sweet tooth!

    Comment by jenny | November 3, 2011 | Reply

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