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 | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Knee-deep in Guts

We have in our skulls “two minds working semi-independently of each other”, one a thinker, one a reactor. System One and System Two, or, for convenience, “Head” and “Gut”.

So claims Dan Gardner in his book RISK: The Science and Politics of Fear, which I received for my birthday. Given how I feel about risk and risk-taking, I expect to thoroughly enjoy this book.

“Head” and “Gut” got me thinking — about my job, of course. We all start out 100% gut. Newborn infants have no Head yet; they are pre-rational. Everything they do is done by instinct and reaction. There is no considered response. This is as it should be, instinct (and that piercing wail!) helping this helpless little critter survive into the next hour, the next day.

Gut is essential for survival. It tells us what’s a danger, it tells us what to avoid, it drives us to seek out what we need. And it does this fast. When in the path of a speeding car, you don’t need to know the make, year, or its likely carbon footprint. You need to take instant action. Your Gut response to something is instantaneous. Reasoned? Not at all. Effective? Very. We all start out as completely Gut, and we never lose it, because we need it.

Eventually, however, Head starts to become a player, too. Head, however, is much slower than Gut, so it takes some experience and maturity to apply it. Eventually we learn (or should!) to take advantage of what Stephen Covey neatly calls that small space between stimulus and response, and respond rather than merely react.

Well. I hope we do. For my part, at its most basic, my profession comes down to the ongoing task of attempting to install some Head-response into the seething mass of little Gut-people who fill my home daily.

A toddler is frustrated. He shrieks. Or throws something. Or wallops someone. Because Gut is fast. Then I intervene, with Head admonitions to “use your words”, “hands are for hugging”, because what I am attempting to do is to have these children pause before reacting, to teach them how to respond out of Head instead of, or in addition to, Gut.

It’s an interesting perspective on my job. And now, I must go. There are raised voices, and I think some Gut is about to bust out over there. This Head needs to intervene.

February 17, 2009 Posted by | aggression, books, Canada, health and safety, power struggle, socializing | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment