When considering what to teach your kids, the tendency is to focus on the important things - not Candy 101.
Halloween night, after each chorus of “trick-or-treat!,” I heard the same exclamation from my 4 year old - “Mom! Candy!” she’d cheer as she streaked by me with her cousins, already halfway to the next house.
This was our second year of trick-or-treating, but the first time that my daughter has truly been interested in the candy. (Last year she lost interest in her haul almost immediately.)
But this year, she was as excited for the candy as she was for the racing-around-to-houses part. As I watched her trick-or-treat, I noticed that the older kids would be excited about specific treat - “KitKats! Snickers!” - while she just labeled it all “candy.” Talking with her the next day, I realized that she has yet to learn brands and types of candy.
We rarely have candy in the house because I’ll EAT IT ALL. Kiddo knows plain M&Ms from potty training and Hershey Kisses from the bowl at her grandmother’s house. We have DumDum suckers in the pantry, but that one bag I bought six months ago is still not empty.
It never occurred to me that this was basically the extent of her candy knowledge until she was SO EXCITED about finding Hershey Kisses and DumDum suckers in her Halloween bag. (Aren’t you supposed to trade those?)
With the Hershey Kisses devoured on Halloween night, she has moved on to the rest of her loot. And she’s not about to just taste her way through. Every piece requires thoughtful examination and consideration before she’ll even try it.
Kiddo: Mom, what’s this one?
Me: A Butterfinger.
Kiddo: What’s it taste like?
Me: Peanut butter and chocolate. And it’s really crunchy.
Kiddo: Oh. Why is it called Butterfinger?
Kiddo: Ooooh! M&Ms [pulls out a black package and digs in.]
Kiddo: I don’t like these.
Me: [looks at package] They’re dark chocolate M&Ms.
Kiddo: What’s that?
Me: There are all kinds of M&Ms and they each taste a little different. [tries to explain the difference between milk and dark chocolate to a 4yo.]
Kiddo: No. [throws away the dark chocolate M&Ms]
Kiddo: Mom, what’s this one?
Me: A Three Musketeers
Kiddo: What’s in it?
Me: Chocolate nougat covered with chocolate.
Kiddo: What’s nougat?
Me: It’s kinda like a marshmallow, except this one tastes like chocolate.
Kiddo: [tosses Three Musketeers aside.] Are there more Hershey Kisses?
This is NOT the kind of teaching the parenting books, magazines, and websites prepare you for. When you think about what you’ll need to teach your kids, the tendency is to focus on the important things - stay away from fire, sharing is good, it’s important to be nice, don’t play in the road. Not Candy 101.
But here we are. Discussing our way through her Halloween treats, while she decides what gets an auto-rejection (Almond Joy), what’s worth trying before rejecting (Nerds), and what’s worth eating up (Hershey bar).
It’s no surprise that a discussion of candy and its ingredients is way more fun than yet another lecture on why it’s good to share. Besides, as long as she keeps rejecting those Almond Joys, that’s sharing enough for me.