Halloween Candy Is Ruining My Discipline Tricks
Friends make fun of me, but I’ve finally created a “junk food” policy that works for my family: my candy-obsessed boys are entitled to one special treat every Friday night, post-dinner. It sounds all rigid and uptight, but it’s not. Because even with this policy in effect, my 6-year-old averages around a dozen or so “treats” per week.
There’s the birthday cake at his classmates’ countless birthday parties; the trips to our local bakery, where the owner hands out sprinkled cookies the minute we walk through the door; the “carpool” treats (everything from chocolate bars to one-bite brownies). I’m telling you, my kid eats enough junk food each week to feed a small village; I can’t imagine what he’d consume if I didn’t limit it somewhat. (Actually, I can imagine it. I used to let him eat whatever, whenever, and he vomited on more than one occasion.)
Which explains why Halloween is a bit of a nightmare in the discipline department. You try explaining to a small child that the 80 or so chocolate bars and lollipops splayed out in front of him – the ones he so proudly collected himself – aren’t really his. Or that they are his but that he can only have one at a time so that he doesn’t get a tummy ache. (Even I know this but, hello, I’m the queen of overindulgence – especially when the kids are in bed and it’s cold outside and all I want to do is curl up on the couch, watch The Rachel Zoe Project and devour an entire bag of Reese minis. Because I’m an adult, no one stops me.)
Last Halloween we tried telling him that he could eat one candy every Friday until they ran out. (My husband and I sped up the process by sneaking some for ourselves.) This sounded alright in theory, but then every time he’d see the stash he’d get hysterical (we tried divvying it all up but he’s no dummy). Then he’d flip out every day after school, claiming that his classmates got “four chocolate bars each” for dessert, and why can’t he? I did the usual, “I’m your Mommy and I’m only concerned with what you do, not what your friends do,” to which he’d scream and cry and tell me I’m the worst mother ever. Then, when Friday would come around, he’s spend 20 minutes deliberating which “treat” to have, in which time his little brother, then 1, would scream, “CANDY! CANDY! CANDY!” and get all red-faced and hysterical to the point that I thought that something was truly wrong.
It’s times like these that I’ll take a step back and wonder why on earth I’m being so strict in the first place. I mean, is an extra chocolate bar really going to hurt anyone? So I’ll shout, “Fine! Have whatever you want! I don’t care!” only to be met with an urgent, “Ohmigod, Mommy, I’m going to throw up!” 20 minutes later. You’d think that my guy would remember vomiting 12 hours later while begging for more junk food, but that has yet to happen. So I’m once again torn between being the Grinch who stole Halloween and, well, a free-spirited mom who says, “Go ahead, indulge, my love.”
I’ve got 10 days to come up with a new, fool-proof system. Tips, anyone?