I was standing in Target a couple weeks ago with Peaches. We were there to buy a Rapunzel costume. We got lucky and nabbed the last wig, but when she saw a one-shouldered pink prism Barbie dress, she had to have it, and so a new costume idea was born. Peaches would now be Rapunzie. Barbunzel. Something like that. I loved the idea. Love that she’s taking something already mapped out and reworking it to invent something better.
This year I am doing the same with our treats.
Here’s how it went down: next to the costume display is the candy. You know how it is. Aisles and aisles of crinkle-wrapped Kit-Kats, Tootsie Rolls, Blow-Pops, Smarties, Nerds, Now-N-Laters, plus all the “healthy alternatives” like pretzels, popcorn and fruit roll-ups.
I stood there staring, suddenly overwhelmed, while Peaches yanked on my sleeve and nudged, “Mommy, come ON.”
I ogled the shiny cellophane packages. How could I buy a load of corn syrupy, sugary, artificially flavored and colored crap to share with the neighbors? How could I buy into the mindless consumption when I’d become so much more mindful about it? How could I support this candy orgy knowing what I now know?
But then, all this stuff I loved as a child, how could I not partake? Why couldn’t I zap myself back into ignorance? Wouldn’t it be so much easier?
Maybe in the short run. But down the road? I don’t think so. (Okay that was harsh.)
My kids know how I feel about sugar. Every time they ask for Cheerios and I tell them we don’t have them anymore they know. Anyone who’s read portions of my blog or talked to me for more than ten minutes knows how I have come to feel.
I walked to the party aisle. I considered the eyeball super balls, the spider rings, the stretchy bats. I could give those out, I thought.
Then I looked at the prices. And thought about the landfill overtaking the planet like the Blob.
And Peaches nagged me some more. “Mommy! I want to leave!”
After standing around like a deer in the headlights for a few more minutes, we went home with the wig and the Barbie dress.
Over the following week I was thrilled to come across Sarah Fragoso’s post, Surviving Halloween. It was so heartening to read that I am not the only mom who feels strongly about the crap our kids are invited to consume in vast quantities.
I mean I know I’m not alone. But day to day—at school, on play-dates, at birthday parties—I sure feel like a freakazoid.
Inspired by Sarah’s blog post and comments, the kids and I worked out a plan for what to do with their candy: together, we’ll decide on a monetary worth for each piece and they will trade their candy for Pokemon cards, baseball cards, tiny toys, whatever they can afford.
I admit that Spike is easier to deal with on the candy issue. For one thing, he hates chocolate. (I know!) For another, he’s got sealants on his molars which make anything sticky—from fruit leather and gum to taffy—off-limits. That doesn’t leave him with much more than Dum-Dums.
As far as what we’re doling out to the neighbors, I realized that between landfill and sugar, I’ll choose landfill every time.
Don’t get me wrong. I am aware that there are other, cheaper, more creative and better ways to celebrate the season, but at the moment I am too lazy to explore those options.
So Peaches and I returned to Target and stocked up on non-edible treats. I probably spent too much. Okay. I definitely spent too much. I could have filled our treat bowl for half as much if I’d bought candy instead.
But I think it’s worth it. And maybe it’ll get some of us parents talking about candy alternatives. At the very least they’ll come to know me in all my candy-kooky splendor.
Still, I know if I were a kid on Halloween I’d be psyched to grab some of this loot.
Later in the minivan I listened to one of my new favorite podcasts, Latest in Paleo. I learned that this coming Sunday, October 30th is Sugar Addiction Awareness Day.
How cool is that?
To a nutrition nerd like me, it’s VERY COOL.
I clicked on the link and was further reassured to know that there are all sorts of folks like me looking for support, answers and ideas about how to include the evil spookiness but nix the evil sugar. Because nobody wants to be the wicked witch of the neighborhood.
If you’re pulling your hair out over how to eliminate sugar in your kids’ diets, check it out.
And of course, BOO!