Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Grape has his treats and eats them, too

This weekend, all across the country, parents gorged themselves on sweets, many under the pretense of "checking" their children's trick or treat loot for sinister foreign objects.

A significant minority of these parents confiscate most of the haul outright, on the grounds that they don't allow sweets. Some of those parents toss the offensive sweets, others dump the candies on co-workers, but many, many parents squirrel away a secret stash for post-bedtime adult consumption.

I think that's lame.

Now, before you jump all over me with arguments about rotting teeth, rampant obesity and the undesirable effects of mercurial sugar highs, let me say it's very irresponsible to let the little ones ingest their monster candy take in a single sitting.

But, come on, people. Despite what the costume and night club industry would have us believe, Halloween is a quintessential kiddie holiday. The costumes may be the main event, but candy figures into it, too.

How many alpha moms who never allow a morsel of inorganic food to cross their youngsters' lips got to eat their Halloween candy as kids? How many of those moms suffered lasting physiological damage as a result? Anyone? No? That's kind of what I figured.

I'm a major food snob. I'm all about eating clean, healthy, local food. I don't buy processed food, or sauces and cereals featuring corn syrup. We don't patronize fast food outlets. We eat lots of fresh produce. We don't buy grain-fed meat or dairy products from cows subjected to rBGH. I don't keep candy around the house at all times.

Some people might find my food rules hard to live with; I don't. For the simple reason that the food rules apply to both the adults and the Grape. And because I eat candy in moderation, so can the Grape. In fact, he was really excited to discover on November 1, that the crinkly packages he'd collected so eagerly the previous evening contained chocolate.

On a nuttier level, Gardenmoms, that treasure trove of maternal angst, featured a post several months back from a woman who wanted to skip the birthday cake at her son's party. Not for a legitimate reason (i.e. the child or his siblings suffer from diabetes), but because she completely banned all sweets. Really?

Skip ahead a few years. I wonder if people who make candy the forbidden fruit do their kids any favors. It seems to me that the strategy could backfire. It's not hard to imagine a kindergarten kid who was barred from tasting his own birthday cake morphing into a ten-year-old who gorges himself on Twinkies and DingDongs in his tree house. It's kind of like the child of teetotalers who leaves home at eighteen and becomes a binge drinker. As with alcohol, I bet people who don't learn moderation with desserts tend to be the ones who end up with issues.

For many of us, certain foods conjure up wonderful childhood memories. While the trick or treat haul isn't as special as the certain cookies your grandma made at Christmas, or that incredible cake with the frosting animals you had on your sixth birthday, I bet more than one of you can still name the candy you were most happy to receive from your neighbors on Halloween night.

And let's be honest: admiring the Halloween haul strewn on the floor was only part of the fun. Consuming it made me and my younger brother pretty happy, too.

Which is why now, even with his whole foods obsessed mom, the Grape gets to have his birthday cake and eat his Halloween candy too.

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