We Are Both Right

Move Over Applesauce, Hello Halloween Candy!

In our house, my youngest child, 17-month-old S., is a big fan of “M-M-Ms.” (That’s “M&M’s” for those of you who don’t speak toddler.) He doesn’t get them very often, but when he does, it is cause for celebration, complete with dancing, hand clapping, waving arms and plenty of “RAY!”s.

© lusi/stock.xchng

© lusi/stock.xchng

It’s adorable. And yet somehow I feel guilty for enjoying his display of joy.

I know that we have an obesity epidemic in this country. And I realize that these sweet nuggets of chocolatey goodness probably aren’t the wisest of food choices for my little guy. But he likes them. And he’s a good boy. And sometimes I like to give him a treat.

Or bribe him.

After his first haircut, the barber gave S. a lollipop, admittedly, a type of candy that I’m not a fan of at all. (Every time I hear the candy bump up against my kids’ teeth I can practically see the sugar coating them.) And I’m terrified of choking. But after a traumatic experience like getting your hair trimmed for the very first time, is it really so bad to let a kid kick back with a “La-Pop!”?

I know after I’ve had a long day a little bit of chocolate always makes me feel better, so why would that be different for a toddler?

The key of course is moderation. When C. and A. were toddlers, they didn’t have any candy at all. Guess what? They still love it and would eat their weight in Nerds if I let them.

When S. does get candy — and so far it’s just been M&M’s and the one la-pop — he gets very little, maybe five or six pieces. Even still, that tiny amount of sugar and chocolate is enough, causing him to turn into a bit of a whirling dervish, spinning and shouting around the house, bouncing off the walls. Now I don’t know if he’s just deliriously happy or it really is the sweet stuff hitting his bloodstream, but it’s enough to give me (a little bit of) pause, limiting his treats to just once a week or so.

Still, this Halloween you can bet I’ll be letting S. not only do a little trick-or-treating, but reap the rewards too. To be sure he’ll get something he can have, I bought M-M-M’s as the candy we’ll be handing out.

If I can just convince him to give them to the trick-or-treaters.

Originally published in October, 2010

Pretzels Anyone? A Sugar-less Halloween

This Halloween will be like no other, now that my daughter is a preschooler.  You see, I’ve tried to keep her away from the gobs of Halloween candy that tend to get thrown into the bags of the oh-so-cutest trick or treaters.

But an innocent toddler she is no more.  Last year, I was able to entice her with pretzels instead of lollipops, but I think she will be much wiser to my tricks this year.  Nope, no more toddler yogurt snacks filling in for mini-Musketeers.  This year, she’ll be snubbing her nose at animal crackers and tearing open the Kit Kats.  Guess the party’s over in my world.

Don’t get me wrong, I never was the mom that forbid a gram of sugar from ever coming within 50 feet of my child — but I did put up a valiant effort to impose some limits.  A bag of M&Ms here, a lollipop there was OK with me.  I never used candy as a bribe and even if I did buy the occasional candy reward, my kids knew that they weren’t leaving the store with those dipsticks attached to a bag of pure sugar.

Up until now that is.  My Little Mermaid is going to be swimming her way through a sea of candy, trying to keep up with her big brother who boasted for days after last Halloween that he had filled his treat bag up to the bellyache line.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not one to shy away from a Snickers bar.  I ate peanut M&Ms religiously every afternoon when I was pregnant with L.  Ice cream is still one of my favorite snacks.  So it’s not that I’m trying to spoil the enjoyment of a sweet treat for my kids (or the best holiday of the year), but I twinge at the thought of so MUCH candy.

I guess the best I can do is to keep track of what S. is unwrapping as we make our way from house to house.  My strategy is to steer her toward the chocolate, since there has to be more nutritional value in that than chewy squares of colon-clogging colored corn syrup.

And maybe she’ll be delightfully side-tracked when we happen upon one of those houses that has a bowl full of pennies or (score) a mini-tub of Playdough.

But in the end, it’s one day, and I’ll let her (mindfully) indulge the sweet-tooth she inherited from me.   Once we get home, I can hide the excess of treats from the little one with a short-term memory.  Her brother on the other hand will be making a mental inventory of every last Starburst he brings in, but that’s a story for another day.

Originally published in October, 2010