It should not be shocking that I dislike Halloween. Okay, it is not so much Halloween that I dislike, it is the candy, because the costumes and the fall theme are pretty fun! So I, um...kinda...um, never told my kids about trick or treating. Plus I have never taken them. They know about it now. But they didn't hear it from me. And while they have costumes, I don't plan on taking them trick or treating again this year. And furthermore, I don't feel the slightest guilty about it. Let me try to explain why.
Remember back when you were a kid? Halloween was an exciting time when you got to choose your costume, my mom (and later I) made my costume and then you got to show it off while getting candy from the neighbors? I remember the houses that gave out Snickers, Bottle Caps and caramels (good candy) and the houses that gave out peanut squares, Charleston Chews and bubble gum (lousy candy). And most of all I remember the houses that gave out HANDFULS of candy as opposed to one or two pieces. Those houses rocked. After the evening's haul had been acquired, we would go back home and sort through everything (make sure there were no acid squares or anything that could have had a razor blade in it), eat our most favorite pieces and pass out from all the excitement
Every year I could pour my modest haul between my two legs and count the pieces. My candy was all eaten up in a couple of weeks. I never remember having any leftover at Thanksgiving. Also, I don't think my mother ever took candy away from me in the hopes that I would eat less of it. My mother never worried about that.
Today, things seem so different. First off, I have bought every Halloween costume that my kids have ever had. I never even tried making something. But this year Thing 1 wanted to dress up as Super Why, the leader of the Super Readers on the eponymous show. I was pretty sure that no one makes a Super Why costume. So we went out and bought green tee-shirts, felt, glitter paint and fabric glue and now we have...ta-da!
I am so proud of this! Even though now I know that I spent more on supplies than the costume would have cost, it doesn't matter. Thing 1 loves this. Thing 2 has no idea what is going on, but he loves it too. I do think that part of the fun of Halloween this year has been the homemade costume. I would like to think that I will do this every year until they get old enough to get bored of it. Again, I promise to be inconsistent at best.
But also, I feel like Halloween has turned into a no-rules opportunity for kids to gorge on candy. Perhaps too great a societal focus on healthy eating has created a super demand for unhealthy foods? Even though we don't actually eat all that healthfully as a society, because we know it and obsess over it we create great guilt over our eating habits. Then Halloween rolls around and kids stuff their faces with candy like they will never have it again. This is classic deprivation behavior. What is so crazy is that most people and kids are not junk food or candy deprived. I wish I had more time to study eating behavior and culture.
Remember what I said about those houses that gave out HANDFULS of candy? Well now it seems like everyone is doing it. Our wonderful daycare took Thing 2 trick or treating last Friday around at some local businesses. He came home with easily 2 pounds of candy. He is 2!!! Now I don't fault the daycare. I truly love them. They didn't let him EAT the candy and trick or treating was a very fun activity for the kids. I am glad that Thing 2 went and had such a great time. But can you imagine seeing a dressed up 2 year old and giving him a massive handful of candy? I mean, they don't even care about the candy. The fun for them is the interaction. This is what he came home with.
The quantity is disturbing to me. What ever happened to giving out one or two pieces to each kid? Why am I looked upon as such a stingy Grinch for not letting my kids gorge on candy? Am I depriving them of a rite of passage? Or am I depriving them of a stomach ache? Though perhaps I am not the only adult with a bit of good sense. If you look closely in the pile, you will see two or three small toys and two toothbrushes. Nice.
For the record, I do let my kids have candy. And not just on Halloween. They eat some candy probably every week, though that is usually because DH has something in his pocket when he gets home from work. That is fine, but I don't see the sense in going overboard. I don't restrict my kids food intake. If you are hungry and want thirds, go for it. We eat fat. We eat lots of fat, butter on toast, full fat dairy products, nuts and even coconut oil on our oatmeal! But I do restrict junk food, candy particularly. Does that make me a Grinch? I think it makes me sensible. And it is sad to me to think that such behavior is 'old-fashioned'.
Furthermore, why should I take my kids trick or treating on Halloween? They both went trick or treating at their schools, they'll get treats and parties on top of that, we plan on going to a Halloween party where there will definitely be treats, and every family member and friend that stops by comes with something sweet for the kids. The world has given my kids enough candy. Why the hell do I need to drag them from apartment to apartment in my building and ask for even more handouts from semi-strangers. Isn't the fun of Halloween in dressing up, seeing friends and having a party on a week night? The candy seems like such a sad supporting act.
And lastly, I admit. I am that mom. I will totally throw out all remaining candy that has not been consumed within a week or two. I have done it every year without fail. The kids have never noticed or cared. What a waste. Next time, just give my kid one piece. Any more is like throwing money in the garbage.