Trick or Treat (Swipe or Eat?)
Forget the costumes, decorations, pumpkin carving and spooky stories. We all know what Halloween is really about — the candy – or at least that’s the case in a house with small children like mine. A holiday that gives out free candy by the handful, bags and scoops, is what keeps my kids up at night giddy and counting the days until they will stuff their pumpkin-totes to the brim.
Wearing a costume is merely playing along – I just need to make sure whatever costume they’re wearing doesn’t slow them down, get in the way or hold ‘em back. If it does it will heartlessly be ripped off and flung behind as they stampede to the next house. The chase of scoring the biggest bag of candy is a thrill reflected in my little one’s crazed and moonlit eyes. It’s quite a sight to watch them out past their bedtime, in the dark, maniacally running from door to door with thoughts of candy land indulgence in the days ahead— yet at the same time, I can’t help but feel a bit guilty knowing that there is no way I will ever let them keep all the candy.
As a parent, who’s job it is to teach healthy eating habits, I have to admit that Halloween gives me some anxiety. I begin to fret over how I’m going tell my children that taking the bag of candy away, the one they’ve been dreaming about for the last year, is the best thing for them. Over the last few years my lame attempts to explain this insane act of motherly betrayal have been met with deafening cries, shrieks and looks of complete disbelief. Suffice it to say it doesn’t go over so well. What to do?
I have childhood memories of trick-or-treating in Malibu. Dad would take my brother, my sister and my paper shopping bags full of candy and pour it onto the living room floor. Sifting through the loot he would made little piles of the candy — Good & Plentys, Snickers, Three Musketeers. He claimed he was saving us by taking all the ones that might be ‘poisoned’ — funny how each year the Good & Plenty and Milk Duds were contaminated with life threatening poisons. I actually had a fear of Good & Plentys and Milk Duds until I finally caught on in High School that the reason he didn’t drop dead wasn’t due to his ‘super dad powers’ but because he was pilfering out his favorites for his secret stash.
Last year I tried something new after a report came out from the American Pediatric Dental Association that revealed the damage to teeth from candy comes from a habit of eating it on a daily basis. The sugar erodes teeth over a duration of time. The report continued that “it’s better for kids’ teeth if they eat all the candy in one day rather than ration it one day at a time” — better for the teeth, I thought, but what about the parents who have to cope with jacked-up kids bouncing off the walls from sugar over load right before bed?
Nevertheless, I gave it a try. I made a deal with my kids that they could eat all the candy they wanted on Halloween night until it was time to go home. So far, this has worked like a charm for two reasons:
1) they spend so much time unwrapping the candy and eating it while they’re trick-or-treating that it slows them down getting to the next house, which means that the bag is not as full so there’s less to take away.
2) they think it’s fabulously decadent to gorge themselves with candy until they basically make themselves sick. The next day they couldn’t care less about candy.
This works for now, but I’m sure I will need to change our candy policy as the kids grow older and wiser to mom’s motives. Until then I will search for new ways to keep Halloween fun for them and less anxious for me.
Got any helpful tricks you’d like to share – we’d love to hear. Please write them in the comment section below! Xo ~ L