The girls seemed unusually excited to see me when I arrived home from work tonight. Before I had a chance to get feeling all warm and fuzzy about their enthusiastic greeting, I learned that they’d been waiting anxiously for me to get home so they could go trick-or-treating with their mom. I’m in the apartment, in charge of handing out little sugar-bombs to any other kids in the complex who show up at our door.
Alana decided weeks ago she was going trick-or-treating as a Cheetah. Sara planned to go as Medusa, but reconsidered early this evening when she realized she didn’t want to wear snakes on her head. Her explanation of her costume then changed faster and more often than politician’s answer to “Who was that young woman with you in this picture?” Over the course of 15 minutes, her official identity went from Witch Who Wears Bright Clothes to Just Some Weird Person to the final choice, Fortune Teller.
To prove my own prowess as a fortune teller, I examined her palm and announced her future: You are going to collect a bucketful of candy. But in two days, the bucket will be empty and the candy will be all gone.
That’s how we handle the sugar-fest of Halloween. We want the girls to enjoy the occasion, but we don’t want them stuffing their little faces with sugar for days on end. So a couple of years ago, we established a rule: You have free rein to enjoy the fruits of your trick-or-treating for two days. After that, the candy goes away.
Yes, this prompts them to make the most of the two days. On the other hand, even kids hit their physical limit when indulging in sugar. Last year, Sara tried to down all the remaining candy as the second-day window was closing, made herself sick, and gave up.
“When you eat a bunch of candy and you get sick, what does that tell you about candy?” I asked.
“It tells me that candy isn’t good for me,” she replied.
“Have you ever gotten sick from eating too much bacon?”
“No, Daddy, of course not.”
Yeah, she gets it.
Yesterday was Sugar Addiction Awareness Day. The organizers created some posters to promote a sugar-free Halloween. Interesting idea, but I don’t think it’s sugar on Halloween that causes kids problems. It’s sugar year-round (you know, like that low-fat chocolate milk the USDA thinks is fine for schoolkids, while whole milk was ordered off the menu) with sugar-fests like Halloween piled on top.
I read recently that around 50% of kids have at least one cavity by the age of 10. Sara turns 8 next week and hasn’t had one yet. Neither has Alana. Both girls have been informed that if they make it to age 16 without a cavity, Daddy will contribute $1,000 towards their “I want my own car” funds. (They both have savings accounts with that goal in mind.)
I fully expect to pony up the $1,000. They eat candy for two days after Halloween, they get to indulge in cake and ice cream when they go to birthday parties, and they can have cookies on Christmas. But for most days of the year, their diets are sugar-free.
That’s what makes the difference.