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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Super Sweet Problem

There is way too much candy in our house! Seriously. Way too much! Even after all I’ve eaten. 
I’m sure I will look fifteen again in no time. Just when are you too old for acne? Shouldn’t it be when you get wrinkles? It’s not fair that I should have laugh lines and pimples on the same face. It just doesn’t seem right.
                Anyway, there is a battle underway in my own home. The persistent pleas of my children, as they beg for more candy, are beginning to wear me down. I’m sure there are other exasperated parents who also have overloaded baskets of candy coupled with whiney, begging children.
                Parents of very young children are blessed to not have to face this dilemma. One swift, strategic move and your child will never even notice you’ve removed over half of the tooth decaying enemy. Your toddler can’t even count to ten, how will they know that you’ve swiped out all the marshmallow chickens and chocolate eggs?
                No matter how much swiping I do however, the candy just seems to continually multiply and reappear out of thin air.  No kidding, I keep snacking but the baskets still seem full. I am quite certain I didn’t buy all this candy, so where did it come from?
                Pondering that question makes me realize this is really a moot point at this post-holiday juncture. I mean I was the one who took my kids to the egg hunt and what am I going to do threaten to cut off grandparents and loving Sunday school teachers?
                We just need some strategies for dealing with this super sweet problem.
                First thing we did at our house was downsize.
                Now my children may look like their father, but some things, some of the important things, they did inherit from me. Like me, they are candy connoisseurs. Not just any chocolate will do. Not all jelly beans are alike. I know this and instinctively they do too.
                Sitting on the middle of the family room floor, Easter grass strewn everywhere, we separated the candy into three separate piles; save, trade and throw away. I then helped each child wade through their treasures.
                What proceeded was nothing short of the greatest stock exchange witnessed on Wall Street.
                Watching my four and five year olds negotiate suckers for peanut butter eggs was incredible. Thinking her age gave her an edge; my eight year tried her best to swindle her brothers. Smart little whips they are, it didn’t take them long to figure out her two-for-one-deal wasn’t in their best interest.
                Other than the obvious benefit of immediately sending much of the candy to the trash, what we had was our own little developmentally appropriate intellectual moment.
                My kids counted, sorted, classified, compared and problem solved. The most exciting thing about this learning experience is that it didn’t require flash cards or educational apps. Using what we had on hand they were able to use their emerging intellectual skills. And everyone enjoyed it (even dad who got to sample a little candy now and then).
                Now, Easter is behind us and my kids still have a load of candy. I am still holding my ground as best as I can, not giving into every whine and plea for another piece. In fact, at this rate my two-piece-a-day rule will take us clear into October. Come to think of it, I think we still have Halloween candy in the back of the pantry.
                These baskets of candy might be presenting a huge challenge for us but I will not be swayed. While I can expect my kids to try and eat as much of it as they can, I will work furiously to make sure they (or I) don’t over indulge. In the meantime, I’ll try to remember to encourage the Easter Bunny to be not quite so generous next year. My waist (and nerves) would really appreciate that. Why? Because I’m the mom and I said so! That’s why!
This article appears in my weekly Practical Parenting article at The Review Atlas. Stephanie is a mother to five children and is a Certified Parent Educator for the Monmouth-Roseville School District. She blogs at stephaniesikorski.blogspot.com and can be reached at ssikorski@mr238.org


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