Trapped in Candyland

The other day BB#2 came home with a little baggie of plastic “jewels” from a classmate, with a note attached saying “Happy Ayyam-i-Ha”. One of the things we love about our neighborhood is the diversity, and the fact our kids can learn about cultures, traditions and celebrations my husband and I never even heard of growing up (in fact, I was inspired to look up Ayyam-i-Ha, which is a Baha’i festival of gift-giving and acts of charity. Lovely!)

It also came with a lollipop.

This went straight into the bucket holding the lollipops he brought home for Valentine’s Day, and the remainder of his Christmas candy (his brother has his own bucket). Well, not all of their holiday candy is in the buckets—there are two solid chocolate hockey sticks and pucks in the freezer. And in the cupboard are some Pez dispensers still in the package, a couple Kinder Surprise eggs (each), and boxes of Lifesaver rolls and bags of Skittles. And it’s not as though they haven’t eaten any of the treats they received two months ago…

You’d never know that Santa actually cut back on the sweets in the stockings this year, knowing full well how much additional sugar the boys would be receiving from other sources. Fortunately, I had already disposed of the leftover Halloween candy. Normally I would do the same with the Christmas candy before February 14th, and the Valentine candy before Easter, the Easter candy when the boys aren’t looking…

With Easter on the horizon, I’m at a bit of a loss what to do. Normally, the bunny leaves plastic eggs with a few small candies and coins inside, and notes leading the boys to their baskets. In those there might be a small toy, stickers, a small chocolate bunny or egg. But I know from past experience that this relatively modest haul will be supplemented, and though (confession time) we’ve even tried accidentally-on-purpose leaving the chocolate eggs from the hunt at grandma’s house behind, the end result will be a) eating too much candy or b) throwing a lot of it out. So as I reach for the bag of MiniEggs, I wonder if maybe the bunny should go candy-free this year? And if so, what would she bring instead? The last thing I want to start is giving big-ticket items like bikes for Easter—I know some families do, but that’s not somewhere I’m willing to go.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-candy. Our kids get plenty of treats, more than enough I’m sure. And I’ll admit that sweets were (and are) a beloved part of holidays for me. But it’s to the point where we’re curbing treats we might gladly give them because they are sure to get a bag of candy from a birthday party here, several lollipops from their classmates at school for a holiday there, and so on. It’s not just “once a year”. It’s neverending.

My younger son’s school once had a “no outside food policy” that I appreciated. A few things still trickled in, but I didn’t feel obliged. For some reason they’ve reversed it this year. Maybe for other parents? I’ve heard some complain about their schools not allowing birthday cakes, because they remember celebrating at school when they were young. I absolutely do not remember this. You had a birthday party at home when I was a kid. Maybe you got a paper crown at school and the class sang Happy Birthday. No cake. No candy. And this is fine as far as I’m concerned!

Even if a class does celebrate every birthday and holiday, why does it need to be with food—especially when many of those occasions are going to include treats at home? Aren’t costumes at school on Halloween enough to make the day special? Isn’t exchanging cards enough on Valentine’s? Isn’t a little baggie of sparkly beads enough on Ayyam-i-Ha? Why does it always have to include sugar, sugar, sugar?

I’ve read a few blog posts lately that convince me I’m not alone in being overwhelmed by all the “occasional” treats:

The Exhausted Dietician Mom

Why is Everyone Always Giving My Kids Junk Food?

I’m tired too. I’m tired of being the “ungrateful” mom who doesn’t appreciate the ten “it’s just one” lollipops coming home in my kid’s backpack. The “cheap” mom who doesn’t reciprocate. The “uncaring” mom who doesn’t send anything special to school with her kids on their birthdays. The “stingy” mom that says yes to dessert one day and no the next simply because I don’t want it to be a daily thing, or to ever tie treats to behavior. The “mean” mom who always says no to treats when we’re out because we’ve got buckets of sugar at home. The “wasteful” mom who prepares for each holiday by pitching the candy leftover from the last one.

But what to do? Do I stop buying my own kids any kind of treats, because I know they’re going to be kept in sugar by friends and relatives? Do I immediately toss anything and everything that comes into the house from other sources? Do I continue eating from my kids’ candy buckets while telling myself it’s “so they won’t eat it all themselves” and disappearing whatever is left after a suitable interval?

What do YOU do?

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6 Comments

Filed under parenting, random, schools, the beautiful boys, traditions

6 responses to “Trapped in Candyland

  1. Annie Duggan

    I just discovered your blog, and I love it! I am also a mom to two BB’s (one is 7 and the other is 3). My 3yo has a lot of food allergies (eggs, nuts, dairy), and food seems to be everywhere! We do not have a lot of candy for Easter. In the eggs, the Easter Bunny brings a few safe treats (ring pops and jellybeans – only sugar-based candies are safe, graham crackers) and lots of stickers, tattoos, stampers, puzzle pieces broken up into different eggs, dice. Most are things I get at the dollar store, and it’s a different kind of junk than junk food, but I find that they get some use of of them!

  2. Glad to have found this post. Here’s what I do: “Last but not least, what about the egg hunt? For the past few years, our church’s egg hunt is for empty eggs that the children trade in for small toys and books. Let’s hope it increases their preoccupation with reading instead of chocolate.” http://kyhealthykids.com/2013/03/29/easter-candy-damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-dont/

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