I’ve tried for years to get my children to trade in their Halloween candy for toys or books. Never works. They get so few sugar-y treats all year that when they get real corn syrup, they’re amazed by the process. Knock on a door, get things you’ve never tasted, and own them all for your very own? Favorite holiday ever.
I’m tired of trying gentle persuasion and logic to avoid excess. This year we tried something new: eat all the Halloween candy you want after meals for three days. Let candy be dessert, snack, and exploration all day for three days as long as you’ve put some protein in your body. And after the third day, the festival of gorging and experimentation will be over.
I genuinely thought that the late night of trick-or-treating, in which corn syrup and organic cane sugar co-mingled in my sons’ sugar-naive bodies without limit, that they’d have a terrible Friday. But Peanut, the seven-year-old, woke a bit late and went quietly downstairs to sort his candy, eat whole wheat toast with cream cheese, and do his homework. By the time his brother awoke (two hours late despite three years of never sleeping in except with a high fever), the eldest had done math and spelling assignments, read me two books without the typical protests, and had another slice of cream cheese toast. He had several fun-size bars of crap during this process, which somehow took all the attitude, resistance, and petulance out of his morning ritual.
The little Butter woke just before school and asked for yogurt. He ate a bowl of plain yogurt and casually asked if he could have his candy bag in the car. While we drove to a friend’s house he sorted the candy, tasted a few pieces, handed them all over as rejects. By the time we got to our friend’s, he had decided that our standby, special occasion lollypops are his only true candy love.
Over the past two days Peanut has eaten most of his favorites and tasted several adult favorites that he surrendered to Dad as not worth the time. Butter has opened so many lollypops and traded chocolate for extra lollypops that we might need to buy stock in Yummy Earth. He sorts his other candy, opens a lolly, licks it a few times, and gives the rest to me. He opens another, licks it a few times, then hands it over because he has games to play. There are currently five lollypops sitting on the dining room table, waiting until he reclaims them. I doubt he will.
Sure, we’ve had more crazy energy than usual, and the boys are running in circles chasing their own tails from the percentage of sugar calories.
But they’re also sitting down. Actually sitting and talking and organizing and debating and trading. Because of candy I’ve been able to lie down on the floor by them and listen to them negotiate, without having to intervene. We sat on the back lawn and looked at the sky together, them with candy and me with a surprising lack of desire for sugar.
So I think this family will now pursue a 90%-candy diet for the rest of the year. If candy gets them to chill, sit down, and speak nicely to each other, it can’t be bad, right?
[Side note: I can’t wait until the candy goes away tomorrow night. I’m so sick of hearing about candy, seeing wrappers in the trash, and cooking meals to maximize protein in anticipation of corn syrup extravaganzas.]
Love this candy-driven holiday. Love it.
[Side note: not really. But it’s growing on me.]