This is a guest column from one of our readers who has struggled with Halloween. This is her story of another mother calling her out about it.
My children are my pride and joy. They are the love of my life. There is nothing in the world I put more as a priority than my children’s happiness. And that’s what makes Halloween such a difficult time for me.
It’s the conflict. And the dilemma. And honestly, it is agonizing.
The other day I was at my daughter’s school halloween function. She’s 9. The kids went classroom to classroom trick or treating. I was one of a handful of mom’s helping out. I admit, I was jaded and bitter over the matter. I hate halloween because I just don’t allow my children to eat processed foods, especially candies. And in the case of Halloween, it is my children begging for the very items that I’ve told them aren’t good for them.
I made the decision this time to allow my daughter to partake and I volunteered to help out. I have battled with the idea of eliminating Halloween, but then I feel as if I am stripping my children of a piece of their childhood. So over the years, I’ve compromised. When my children come back from trick or treating, I allow them to “donate” their candy to a fund that returns itself in gift value. They hand over the candy, then get to go to the store and buy something. I understand, I’m probably not winning mother of the year for this one, but it does typically eliminate them from pounding candy for days.
While I was working the Halloween event, my daughter came over, being the amazing, articulate, and mistimed child she is, and said “mommy here can I just give this to you now to throw away.”
Ugh. No she didn’t, I thought. But she had.
First, I should explain, I do throw the candy away, but I’ve never intended for her to realize that. I always avoided the “what happened to the candy” because in some ways, I never want my daughter to think that throwing away something someone gave you is the nice thing to do. Again, I am not proposing that makes any sense, but it is just the way it has always went down. But children are always more observant than we adults give them credit for, so I guess I should have known.
When she walked away, another mother turned to me and gasped, then said, “you throw the candy away?” This mother and I have some past history here, which should be noted. She knows I have an anti-vaccination stance and she has called me out on it. No punches thrown, but she was rather direct in telling me that I was endangering other children. I mostly avoided further exchanges with her regarding it, but this Halloween drama seemed to give her an opening to challenge me again (just on a different matter).
I kept my cool and replied, “no, they get the choice of eating the candy or trading it in for a trip to the store to pick out a gift.” She then said, “you know, sometimes kids just need to be kids. You are stripping her of her childhood. Don’t you want her to be normal?”
You can imagine how I felt at that moment. It was a mix between a sad, defeated mother and a mother enraged with the wrath of a lioness chasing a gazelle for dinner. Did she really just tell me how to raise my kids?
I turned to her and said, “you parent your kids however you like, I don’t want my kids growing up in a world that revolves around their next sugar high. My daughter is happy and healthy. Move on.” She walked away, but she left a bit of a mental scar on me at a time I feel most vulnerable (again, the Halloween blues). I am not judging you for letting your kids collect candy on Halloween. I am NOT that mother. But I expect every mother to understand my stance. To understand that my negotiation with the holiday, while probably not perfect, is the best I can do given the circumstances.
I really hate this holiday. And sometimes, to be honest, I hate me for hating this holiday.