Here is a true story: Once upon a time… I loved Halloween, trick-or-treating, and getting dressed up. I loved the cute costumes for my little ones. I enjoyed dressing them up, and taking adorable pictures. These adorable pictures featured the likes of Tigger, Mulan, Cinderella (my favorite), and the dragon trainer dragon (I can't remember his name). The baby was even a sweet-pea for her first Halloween! I relished having a few days of my favorite candy (I love, love, love peanut butter cups). Even better was being able to toss any remaining candy into the trash when I had had enough. Those were the days.
Then my children became teenagers (and a remaining tweenager).
My sweet Halloween pictures are currently tainted with zombies, scary makeup... things, and the not-so-bad Bobba Fett (from Star Wars). I had a sugar skull this year, too. These creatures (that look like my children and their friends) are not so cute anymore (not like Tigger and Mulan, anyway). The makeup is fun, although I have glitter everywhere. still. The costumes are pretty creative. The candy, though, that I used to throw away (guilt free, mind you) has become a sugar habit, and a quick fix for the afternoon doldrums, all adding up to an extra few pounds.
Halloween has definitely changed a bit for me.
I'm feeling stuck. I want to let the kids have their fun and their candy, while also teaching them about nutrition, and self control. It’s hard to talk about the consequences of sugar, though, while we are in the midst of a meltdown, as a result of said sugar. Red dye #40, and other preservatives don’t help the meltdown issue, either. When do maturity and the realization that too much sugar is a bad thing happen? What age are you when all of that is supposed to click?
This year, I told the kids they could have all the candy they wanted on Halloween night, and then again all day Sunday, but the candy fairy would be throwing out any remaining candy after they went to bed on Sunday night.
Mistake number one.
The youngest is fundamentally opposed to giving up on the belief of any fairy. If I tell her there is a fairy for something, then there is no amount of back-peddling that can undo the existence of said fairy. In this case, I have now introduced a new fairy into the Halloween situation. As soon as I mentioned the fairy, the negotiations began. She (the sweet-pea, remember) started with separating and sorting all her candy. She made peace offerings to the fairy so that, “just maybe she won't take it all away Sunday night.” The main peace offering was a gallon sized ziplock bag of candy, with all the peanut butter cups included, for good measure…
I've been SO played.
Even though it is kind of sweet that my favorite candy has been offered to the "Candy Fairy", I’m totally aware that the sweet pea is onto me. To make sure that the “fairy” is fully informed of the candy crisis, the petitions of good work began. This child (that little one) proceeded to explain about all the hard work she put into her costume, how she walked long and hard, for hours, up-hill, etc, and that she just didn't understand how on earth a fairy would deprive her of something she worked so hard for? How could it be, that a benevolent fairy would take away candy from such a hard working spirit? I did what any sane mom would do. I gave in and said that I was the candy fairy.
Mistake number two.
Does anyone else agree that parenting is, like, the hardest job ever? I struggle with consistency. Every time, that is my short falling of effective discipline. I'm a softie, too emotional, and not a hard-liner. I've read countless books about this, so I speak (write) with confidence on this subject. To be effective, I have to be consistent. Thank God (literally) that I was attracted to and married to my husband who is the exact opposite of me. We may not keep the kids out of therapy, but we are offering and providing them with the best of both worlds of parent types. Together, we are both indulgent and strict. Hopefully, the children will turn out to be well rounded grown ups. We can hope, for sure. They will probably have a candy addiction, though.
The nugget of knowledge in this situation, I think, is that there has to be moderation in everything, even candy. Perhaps if I didn't limit it so much, it wouldn't be such an issue? The question mark is because I really don't know- I've heard both pros and cons on that approach.
One thing is sure, though. My youngest is not the type of person that infers meaning from vague directions, or responds well to suggestions. She needs a very clear if “a” then “b”. Clarity is a good thing! I think the clear approach, and plain-English directions will work well for every child, in any situation. Consistency, too, is a good thing.
So...as you transition from Halloween into the Christmas season, think of the candy fairy. She ended up giving the kiddos of this household a few extra days of candy. Thank goodness the elf-on-the-shelf came to the rescue! Our elf is a girl, and she wisely indicated that if anyone wanted any remaining candy, they had better ask permission first.