Halloween aftermath

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.]


Stop supporting slave labor

There have been numerous articles on the use of slave labor, particularly forced child labor, in the production of chocolate. And I’m glad there are alternatives so we don’t have to choose between abstaining (NO!) or feeding our families the product of slave labor (HELL NO!)

When I buy food, I try to balance the important issues: maximizing nutrition while minimizing toxins, cost, and labor abuses.

Didn’t think you had to worry about slavery anymore? I wish that were true.

We buy locally grown organic tomatoes to avoid the pesticides and chemical fertilizers of conventional farms, and also to stay as far away from supporting the obscene work practices of some tomato farmers. I refuse to buy or eat products that are the product of slavery or of child labor. In the case of tomatoes, though, I had no idea I was supporting both until I read Tomatoland, the tomato’s version of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.

We also buy fair trade coffee to vote for a world where local cooperatives grow and harvest coffee in conditions safe for the workers and the planet, where workers are paid a fair price for their products, and where crops are not grown in harmony with, rather than at the expense of rain forest.

As we prepare for Halloween, I was thrilled to find Kristen Howerton’s guide to an ethical Halloween because I think Americans spend a lot of time and money ensuring their own kids’ safety, and should learn how the holiday is harmful to other people’s children. Major chocolate companies often get their chocolate from farms that use child labor, child slavery, unsafe working conditions, and grotesque chemicals.

Go read more about the truth behind fun sized chocolate. Then check out one of the alternatives: fair trade chocolate (yum) or treats without any chocolate (also yum). Heck, give out toothbrushes or pencils like I always threaten to do.

Just make sure all children have a chance to be as safe as yours will be on Halloween.

Super Happy Halloween

P: Happy Halloween!
Stranger with candy: Oh, what a great costume. Choose a piece of candy.
P: Can I have two?
Swc: Sure!
M: [silently] damn you, neighbor!
P: Thanks! Happy Halloween!
Swc: Bye.
P: Hope you have fun. Bye. I love you!

Just about died with joy at every single house. Cutest of all cute peas, he wanted to go up to the house by himself. He pushed the button, knocked twice, and stepped back, like each door were an elevator. He only told two people he loved them, because that last line is what he says to Dad every morning when he leaves and to anyone who calls and wants to talk to him on the phone.

So it was an awesome night. Much fun. One boy in spider jammies, vampire vest, mardi gras necklace, stuffed ghost tucked into vest, cowboy hat, and construction goggles.

Small beef: Neighbors, please, could *one* of you give out toys or play-dough or crayons or something instead of candy. Come on. One house with a dentist and toothbrush, maybe? One spider ring or yo-yo or plastic skeleton? Please?

Cowboy spider vampire necklace extravaganza

Happy Halloween

P: [standing in doorway with blank look]
M: What do you say?
P: [whispers] Happy Halloween
M: [loudly, beaming] Yes, Happy Halloween.
P: [now ready for a full discussion with candy-wielding stranger] And Happy Mommy and Daddy Home Day. And Grandma’s coming, too.
Candy Stranger: Here you go. Happy Halloween.
P: Thank you.
M: Great job, bug.
P: Why they no say you welcome? Are they not nice?


Happy Candy Day, everyone!