Last night, like millions of other families around North America, I suited up my little ones in their costumes and headed out to meet the neighbours and receive free candy. DS fell asleep before I could even get his costume together, but DD looked splendid in her “baby Apatosaurus” costume – mostly made from Hefty Bags, bonus points for “homemade”.
I had been thinking all day about how to handle the candy issue. I decided that I couldn’t stand to spend the next month arguing several times a day about how much she could have and when, finding new hiding places each day for the “stash”, and dealing with accusations that “you ate my candy” or with hording everything from her brother. So I threw caution to the wind and said “you can eat as much as you want, provided you have eaten a meal”. She had had a good dinner, so when we got home we dumped our loot on the floor and all pigged out. Surprisingly, when I started to feel like I’d had enough, so did she and DS. We put the candy away and I felt very smug. This is what happens when you don’t make things into power struggles, this is what happens when kids trust that they are in control. To top it off, she was amazingly generous with the stuff, even giving her brother the last mini box of Smarties (her favorite). If nothing else, I can be proud of her sharing.
Then, later that night, high on sugar, the kids got back into the stash. They ate and they ate. DD brought me all kinds of disgusting sweets. DS got sticky fingers and actually crawled into bed with a wet lollipop stuck to his pajamas. I thought to myself that I’d be happy if they ate the whole lot just to get rid of it all (and yes, I did my fair share as did the garbage can).
Today, the effects of all that sugar became evident in their behaviour. We had meltdowns getting from the apartment to the garage, we had meltdowns in the grocery store, on two occasions I had to physically force DS into his stroller and strap him in. It was not pretty. I told DD that this was because of all the sugar (and I said it in a non-judgemental, informative way; not in an “i told you so this is all your fault” kind of way). But of course she didn’t want to believe it. Who would? All that chocolatey sweet goodness? How could that be bad?
So I’ve spent the day wondering if maybe I was a bad mother and just took the easy way out. I’ve wondered if I was letting my kids down, not looking after their well-being, by giving them unfettered access to the stash. I honestly don’t know. I mean, it’s not like they are going to die by overeating candy one day out of the year. But at the same time I am second-guessing myself. Maybe next year I will lead up to the event with daily reminders that candy is to be rationed. I don’t know. Until then, I’m eating the good stuff, chucking the bad, and looking forward to unwrapping the last candy.