Hold On Daddy's Coming!

Stories, rants and reflections by a clueless father of three

Archive for the category “Rants”

I Tried Single Parenting For A Week And Holy Cow It Was Awful

Just leave the kids with me, I said.  What could possibly go wrong?  I said…

This week, for the first time, I watched the kids while my wife headed back to the states after the loss of a dear friend.  In my world of constant travel and trials, it just so happened to be a week where I was home.  What follows is a no-kidding recap of how it all unraveled.  And boy did it ever unravel…

The Turnover:  Prior to her departure, the wife gave me lots of tips on how to keep the kids alive and thriving.  This is overwhelming because our kids are spoiled.  Exacerbating matters, I was only half listening, so I learned just enough to be dangerous.  For instance, I know that “Brody needs (insert something about 5mL of medicine),” and “Riley only eats (some kind of food) for lunch” and that I can’t forget about Jimmy’s homework.  Or something.    

Whatever, I got this.

Saturday:  Drop wife off at airport with no drama.  Solid.  Then take the boys to soccer.  Too easy.  

Then I take the boys to GameStop as a bribe to basically be good all week.  My thought was we could get a video game to share and enjoy.  Well, we get there and the oldest wants a Pokemon card set all for himself.  Our four y/o grabs the first thing he can find – a nerdy board game – and assures me that it’s what he has “always wanted.”  I should have seen this coming.   

That night, I take the kids to a free country concert by Hunter Hayes on base.  The boys waste no time whining about the noise and asking me “when’s it gonna be over?”  Little do they know they are hearing the pre-concert music, and the show hasn’t even started.  But they loved it…


His favorite part of the concert

Sunday:  Wake up, play, eat cereal, and head to church.  Then we head home and eat Lunchables.  You might be wondering how I find time to serve such healthy meals.  Well, we had nachos for dinner so its not like we don’t have a cheat meal every now and then.

Monday:  This is the first school day, and I quickly realize how much this week is going to suck.  Evidently our four year old doesn’t have school today because he has a Parent-Teacher conference right smack in the middle of the workday.  Does our pre-schooler’s ability to play with blocks and markers warrant a quarterly meeting?  A text from my wife makes clear I’m supposed to go.     

My suspicions were confirmed when, after driving across town and re-arranging my entire day, I learn nothing more than our son is doing “great” in school.  Oh, great.  

That night, after soccer practice, a neighbor asks me if our family wants some of her extra Sloppy Joes.  I politely reply that I would love some “Sloppy Hoes.”  It was autocorrect, I promise.  I have neither the time nor the energy for Sloppy Hoes this week…  

Tuesday:  It’s Drug Free week, which means the kids get to wear a hat to school.  Ironically, today I will be litigating a case involving, you know, cocaine.  

Before any of this happens, I make lunch.  One wants a red apple, the other wants a banana.  One wants a PB&J, the other wants turkey – but only if its cut in the middle.  Even I know that the quality of one’s lunches can make or break their status as a cool parent.  

With lunch set, I take the older two to the bus and drop the youngest at his school so I can get to work to do, like, my job.  I’m freaking exhausted and it’s not even 8am.  

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That afternoon, the older kids have “early release” which means they hop off the bus at an even more inconvenient time than normal.  Upon arrival, they beg to go to the convenience store down the road.  I make one rule, and that is that they cannot buy candy.  Are we clear?  Crystal clear? Good.  

So of course they go and buy candy.  The ensuing interrogation yields several false official statements.  One tells me “I didn’t hear you when you said that,” and the other points to her brother and says he convinced her it was ok.  And you see, this is how the Bible begins.

Wednesday:  Standard morning chaos.  Then work.  Then soccer practice.  Neighbors brought us dinner the night before but we ate it all, so its cereal and Ramen noodles on the menu tonight.  And then of course they need dessert.  After all this, we do homework and get ready for bed.  And when it’s all over, it’s time to do dishes.  Actually, forget dishes I’m going to bed.  

Thursday:  Morning chaos.  Then go to work, which is really ramping up.  Then gymnastics across the island, then get home to finish the work I left before gymnastics.  Meanwhile, the kids want to play video games, and I have the audacity to recommend they go outside instead.  For this, my son declares it’s the “worst day of his life.”  

Welcome to tyranny, kids.  

Right about now is where I notice all my kids using the “S” word when talking about the pending weekend.  The “S” word is easily the ugliest, most dreadful word in my children’s vernacular.  If your children are reading this, please cover their eyes…

Sleep*ver: defined as neighborhood kids helping our kids turn into punks, flood the house with Legos, and not sleep.  We should really be calling these “awake-overs.” 

Friday:  The kids don’t have school.  It’s not a holiday, they apparently just don’t have school.  Because in Guam Friday is for partying.  

Anyway, I work from home early and then head into the office for a few hours while the kids roam the neighborhood doing who-knows-what.  Honestly, I just hope they have pants on.

At the office I make arrangements to fly to Hawaii on Sunday morning.  Mom gets home Monday night, so there’s a gap in kid coverage.  It’s all becoming rather stressful.  Just when I’m ready to tap out of this unique social experiment, I get the word: one of the kids has lice.  Holy sleep*ver!

I get home, treat the hair, and handle child’s fragile psychological state.  Good to go. Now I just need to put the entire house in trash bags Dexter-style, and then do 18 loads of laundry – all while trying not to convulse at the thought that there were actual bugs living in my kids’ hair.  

I pop on a movie and finish this hellacious night outside with a questionably large glass of wine.  I’m starting to get my wife…  

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Saturday:  Breakfast of champions is Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Then we get ready for soccer, which is a game of 21-questions.  Like, “where did you last remember having your jersey?” and “why do you not have shin guards?” and “WERE LATE WHY AREN’T YOU IN THE CAR ALREADY???”  Another Saturday in paradise.  

That evening the base is hosting a Halloween event, so the kids get to dress up in their costumes for the 18th time this month, and spend some time with their friends.  Of course, they’re only allowed to do this after they’ve had their dinner…


On the way home I load the kids up with candy, and then remind them that I’m leaving in the morning and they will be staying with our neighbors for two days until mom gets back from the states.  Ok?  Ok?  

Suffice it to say, it was not ok.  “We talked about this, guys” I explained.  Say, where have I heard that phrase before??  Holy cow I’m becoming more like my wife with each passing second.  Anyway, I pull over to address the river of tears.

And this, right here, is why single parents have it so hard.  It’s not balancing household chores with deadlines at work, nor is it the moments when you just want to sit and veg out but can’t because a school project is due tomorrow.  It’s hardest when your kids are devastated and there’s no-one else to help – you just have to figure it out yourself.  

My wife just did this for over seven months while I was deployed.  Other parents out there have to do this, like, forever.  I did it for seven days.  I tip my cap to you, single parents.  You have my sympathy and admiration all at once.  

In truth, I am blessed beyond measure to have such happy, healthy children, and this week was precious… minus the lice, and some other things. 

As for my kids, I’m pretty sure they’re doing all their homework and eating well and enjoying their sleep*ver with the neighbors.  And if not, I really don’t care as long as they’re wearing pants.  

A final note to my wife: welcome home.  Now kindly make your way to the store because we desperately need more milk and cereal.  Also, I know I don’t need to tell you this, but…

Grab a bottle of wine while you’re at it.


It’s Official: I’m Becoming a Grumpy Old Man

When I was about 10 years old, I went to an Atlanta Braves baseball game with my late grandfather, Ray Howland.  And while I don’t remember a thing about the actual game, I do remember a group of guys about two sections over trying desperately to get a “wave” going  (you know, the kind where everyone stands up and shouts when it comes your way…). Naturally, this was far more worthy of my attention than the game.  And to their credit, these guys eventually got a wave going all the way around the stadium.  A resounding win for the drunks in Section 314. 

Because I watched this wave develop, I felt unusually invested.  I was especially proud to stand up and shout each time it went by.  But my grandfather just sat there unfazed.  “Why aren’t you standing up?”  I asked with an accusatory tone.  His response, uttered on a day which will forever live in infamy, was as follows:  “I hate the wave. It’s obnoxious.”

If you’re wondering how I took this, well, here’s a clue: he might as well have told Tinkerbell he didn’t believe in fairies.  I mean seriously, who doesnt love the wave? 

Well, this whole interaction became even more impactful to me about four years ago at a baseball game I went to with my own father.  Wouldn’t you know it, another wave got started.  And wouldn’t you know it, my dad echoed the very sentiments of his father before him:  the wave is “distracting” to those “actually watching the game.”  I couldn’t believe it.  Et tu? 

Whatever my grandfather had, my dad now had as well.  And I knew it was only a matter of time before I got it as well.  Or, as a famous king once declared: “Simba, you must take your place in the Circle of Life.”

 Well, this weekend marked my 10 year high school reunion.  The event itself was incredible.  Indeed, I went to an awesome high school and graduated with a group of people that I hope to stay in touch with for the rest of my life.  Mandatory “Go Warhawks!”    

But the occasion provided me with an opportunity to contrast “High School Me” with “Current Me”.  And upon reflection, I feel I am heading in the direction of my forefathers a bit faster than I originally hoped.  Which is why I now present to you several observations about how I’ve changed since high school, and why I fear my love for the “wave” may expire in the coming years.  Here goes nothing.  

— I drink diet soda now – something I promised myself I would never do.  But, diet soda has fewer calories (true) and the same great taste (false).  So there. 

— I am truly bothered when lights are left on unnecessarily in the house, or when the heat is going and the door is left open.  My wife recently caught me asking her (in an annoyed voice) why it was necessary that we have “every single light in the house on at once.”  Coming soon: “this is why we can’t have nice things,” and “if you keep it up I’m turning this car around.”   

— A lot of popular music just doesn’t make sense to me.  I was in the car recently flipping through radio stations and stumbled upon a catchy song in which I could have promised you the guy was saying “Open Condom Style.”  How inappropriate!  (Google assures me it’s actually: “Oppan Gagnam Style”).   And “party rock is in the house tonight?”   What does that even mean?

— Speaking of music, I kind of actually like the song “Call Me Maybe.”  This is something I would never have admitted in high school.  And since I’m making confessions:  I always secretly enjoyed listening to the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync and 98 Degrees.  Oh yea, and I shed a tear at the end of “Titanic.” Conscience cleared. 

— I was baptized and became a follower of Jesus Christ.  This is something that I won’t joke about because it’s a pretty big deal.  The changes in my life this has sparked are too numerous to list on this blog, but here’s a subtle one:  I’ve noticed that substituting the word “blessed” for the word “lucky” gives me instant Christianity street cred (something I’m always looking for). 

       Ex1: “I am so lucky blessed to have finally found my keys.” 

       Ex2: “I am so lucky blessed that the Redskins covered the spread against the Giants.”*** 

***Obligatory disclaimer: I don’t gamble.  Oh wait dang it, I forgot about my fantasy football leagues.  So I guess I do kind of gamble…

— I watch shows that would embarrass the high school version me.  Food Network,  HGTV, you name it.  “Is this woman gonna finish icing those cupcakes before time runs out? The suspense is killing me!”  In fairness, getting my wife to watch college basketball with me is something I have had to earn.  I do this by banking hours of TLC, Army Wives, and Christmas movies, and then cashing them in when my Indiana Hoosiers are on.  That’s my story and I’m stickin to it. 

— When it rains, I almost instinctively declare that “the grass could really use it.”  Enough said. 

— I have hit the point in my life where the cost of going to the movies is a deal-breaker – something that never mattered in high school.  “12.50 for a movie?!?!” When I was a kid, we walked to school uphill both ways in the snow.  And movies were only $6.   

— I am genuinely excited for my friends when they post things on Facebook like “(insert baby name) just went pee-pee in the potty!” And while most people think Daylight Savings Time is awesome cuz it gives them an extra hour in the fall, I know that it throws everything off with the kid’s sleeping schedule.  Basically, it’s evil! 

— Per family tradition, I leave early from concerts and sporting events to ensure that I won’t get stuck in traffic.  This is a classic old man operation.  So while you’re enjoying the second song of Tim McGraw’s encore, don’t be surprised if you see me whispering “we’re gonna be stuck here for hours” to myself while I frantically scan the parking lot.  Yup. 

— In 2002, my precious little sister (10 years younger) watched Barney.  Now she’s in a sorority.  Plus, I recently talked to a college student who had never seen a single episode of “Saved By The Bell.”  So yea, I’m getting old. 

— Lastly: I’m a Republican now.  If anyone by chance has the ability to time-travel back to 2002, please do not tell this to the high school version of me.  It would devastate a big-time Al Gore fan.

There are many more examples of my old-manhood.  But there’s hope for me, isn’t there?  I mean, I still rock out to Michael Jackson.  I still love wearing awesomely tacky American Flag clothes.  AND I STILL LOVE THE “WAVE”! 

Well, one thing’s for sure: I am going to cling on to 29 years old with all my might.  Because 30 brings a whole new level of “you’re getting old” that I’m not sure I’m ready for.  Heck before I know it, I’ll be RSVP’ing to my 30 year high school reunion, and by then my case of “Grumpy Old Manhood” will be fully incurable. 

One of the symptoms?  Explaining to my grandchildren that the “wave” is quite distracting to people trying to watch the game.  Can’t wait.


Fact: Quitting Coffee Is Pretty Much The Worst Thing Ever

I’m a well-documented coffee addict.  Indeed, it’s my opinion that no baby registry is complete without a year’s worth of caffeine products.  But in the words of one of my favorite 80s jams, “here I go again on my own!” Yep, I’ve gone and quit one of the things I love most.  I must be crazy.    

Why did I quit?  I was hoping you would ask…

I started drinking coffee when I got out of college.  It began with one cup per day.  Then it became two cups.  But I limited myself to two cups a day… until law school began, at which point I began having a third cup before class. 

Note: can you blame me?  I mean, you try sitting through lectures on rules of evidence and corporate takeovers with nothing but your can-do attitude.   

So there I was: three cups a day.  Max!  But… the occasional all-night legal writing project added a fourth cup to the mix.  I’m no dietician, but that’s a lot of caffeine in a day.  To make it worse, coffee became a must…especially in the morning.  My addiction manifested itself at church, where I began bringing a coffee mug and sneaking an occasional sip or two when nobody was looking (I couldn’t wait until after the service when coffee was both provided and socially-acceptable).  Other coffee addicts would occasionally look at me as if to say “don’t be ashamed, I’m doing it too…”  We were the coffee-at-church pioneers. 

And speaking of coffee mugs, let me also note that two “cups” eventually became two mugs.  And I assure you, a mug is about twice as big as a cup.  Fortunately as a general rule, a “cup” of coffee is still a cup regardless of the size of the drinking apparatus used.  In other words, a cup is a cup, and a gallon of coffee is still a cup.  This all makes sense to coffee drinkers…

Note: it also makes sense to soda addicts.  For this reason, a 64 ounce mug from 7/11 is a “soda” the same way a 12 ounce can is a “soda.”  Either way, the addict takes comfort in knowing that they have only consumed one soda that day. How disciplined!   

And when I really needed to get going, I’d buy a venti (which means “large” in French or Spanish or something) coffee from Starbucks.  Ahh Starbucks coffee.  It’s feel-good speed.  Starbucks dumps about twice as much caffeine in their coffee as anyone else and then has the audacity to disperse all kinds of information about how “coffee is actually good for you and contains lots of valuable nutrients.”  We coffee drinkers love thinking that our addiction just happens to be healthy… 

Note: it’s kinda like those studies which show that “chocolate is actually good for your health.”  Who funds these studies?  Probably Hershey’s.  But go ahead and munch away at that 500 calorie chocolate bar…it’s good for your, uhh, heart.         

Anyway.  For years, I assured myself that I wasn’t a coffee “addict” because I “could totally quit if I wanted to…” But in six years, I had not gone a day without coffee.  Not one single day. 

I have absolutely no actual knowledge of whether or not it’s true, but I’m convinced coffee makes your hands tremble at an early age.  And I know it stains your teeth.  It’s also really expensive, and it makes you feel like a total loser when you have to walk out in the cold and grab coffee by yourself because everyone else at work has “already had theirs”.  Oh yea, and it’s addictive. 

I realized I had become far too addicted one morning when I was late for work.  My mug was cold, and I had barely touched it, but I nonetheless chugged the entire thing right there.  It was gross. But, coffee had become a box I checked off twice each morning just to make it through, and chugging it like an anxious frat boy was what I had come to.  (Insert “Frank-the-Tank” chant). 

So with all that stuff in mind, I had decided it was time to quit.  I had considered quitting coffee before, but then my wife bought me a “Keurig,” which is basically a machine that makes great coffee in a matter of seconds, and leaves no mess.  The Keurig single-handedly delayed my plan to quit drinking coffee by about a year.  But man I love that machine.  (Lustful sigh…)  

I decided I would go cold turkey – not even bothering with the “phase out” approach.  I also decided to quit drinking soda because I figured it would become a crutch, and I honestly believe coffee is much better for me than soda.  Call me crazy, but I don’t think Mountain Dew is the key to staying young.  For those of us approaching 30, Mountain Dew is more like the key to staying awake… and then getting a kidney stone.  (Man-I’m-getting-old sigh…). 

So anyway.  One night I just told myself I wouldn’t have any more coffee.  Of course, Jimmy got sick that next morning and had me up before 5am.  But I stuck to the plan and went in to work sans caffeine.  And it…SUCKED!!!

Yea, quitting coffee is terrible.  I had the worst headache of my life for a solid day.  In fact, I even broke down and “did the Dew” that afternoon.   I also took some Tylenol or Advil (I always get them confused) that night, and drank a TON of water.  The day went by VERY SLOWLY, and that night, class was miserable.  I cannot emphasize this enough: quitting coffee is pretty much the worst thing ever.    

The next morning, things were a little better, but the day dragged on, and when I got home from work, I took a three hour nap.  I pretty much never take naps, but this one was glorious.  I still fought the headaches, but they weren’t nearly as bad. 

Day three and four were on a weekend, and I was able to sleep a little bit more than usual.  Still, I craved the taste of some coffee goodness.  I settled for orange juice, which is nowhere near as satisfying as “the good stuff.”  I also tried decaf coffee, which felt like supplementing cocaine with Pixy Stix. Not that there’s anything wrong with Pixy Stix…

Well, it’s been exactly one month, and I have been coffee and soda-free.  And even though I still very much crave coffee, it genuinely feels good to not to be such a slave to it anymore.  I am sleeping better, and feeling better.  My breath, I’m sure, is much better.  Still, my energy level isn’t quite where it used to be.  That I have not blogged once since I quit coffee is probably no coincidence…

Will I be back?  Well, if we have twins again then the answer is 100% yes.  And given that I’m about to become a lawyer (where coffee flows like scotch), the odds are stacked against me.  But I’m gonna stay strong.  Indeed, I can do all things with coffee in Christ who gives me strength. 

And if I really need my fix? I will be sure to limit myself to just one mug of coffee… I mean, cup.  Cheers. 

Why I Refuse To Buy Girl Scout Cookies From Parents

Girl Scout cookie season is upon us, and that really is a wonderful thing.  Samoas, Thin Mints, Tagalongs…where have you been for the last 8 months of my life!!!  

I know it may seem a little off-topic for this blog, but I like to rant (and it’s my lunch break) so let me just say a few things about these delicious treats. 

First off, they’re the best!  I mean, compared to other kinds of cookies they’re expensive ($4/box), but they have two things working in their favor: 1. you can’t always get them, and 2. they’re always good.  

Others have tried to replicate the greatness of a Girl Scout cookie but haven’t succeeded.  Wal-Mart sells “Fudge Mint Cookies” (which look suspiciously like Thin Mints) and Keebler has “Fudge Shoppe Coconut Dreams” (which look suspiciously like Samoas).  Don’t be fooled.  Or, as Buddy the Elf would say, “it’s a fake!”

And while I love the Girl Scouts, they are a bunch of cute little LIARS!  Indeed, every box seems to claim a serving size of just 2 or 3 cookies – about 10 cookies too few for the average consumer.    

So.  Girl Scout cookies are awesome.  According to their website, the purpose behind cookie sales (aside from generating about $700M in annual revenue) is to develop the following skills:

1. Goal Setting; 2. Decision Making; 3. Money Management; 4. People Skills; and 5. Business Ethics.  Which goal is my favorite, you ask?  “I choose Business Ethics.”**

**Yes, I just made an obligatory (off-topic) Billy Madison reference.

Ok seriously though.  Those are all great skills (I’m going to come back to them in a little bit, stay tuned…).  And the Girl Scouts of America is a great organization that I hope one day my daughter decides to join.  Fact is, I’m already a sucker for Girl Scout cookies, so I can only imagine how many boxes little Riley will coax me into buying (it very-well could end up being a three-figure number).

Anyway.  Here’s my totally unrequested take on Girl Scout cookie sales: if you come to my door, or even give me a phone call, I’m sold.  If you hit me up at the right moment on the way out of the grocery store, I’m also probably sold.  In fact, I’m pretty much willing to buy anything that any child is selling for scholastic/charitable/community purposes so long as they make their pitch in person.  This includes wrapping paper, popcorn, and discount cards that offer random things I will never need, like 10% off catering orders at Benigans.

But everything changes when parents are the ones making the pitch.  Sorry moms (and dads), but I will *not* buy Girl Scout cookies on your daughter’s behalf.  Indeed, I won’t buy anything on your child’s behalf.

It’s the principle.  Cookie sales are a great vehicle for learning valuable life skills, and all of that is totally thrown out the window when kids don’t actually make the sales pitch themselves.  When I tell people this, I usually get one of three responses…

There’s the “these are dangerous times” and “you just never know” and “it’s not like it used to be” response.  In some neighborhoods that’s true, but not in most neighborhoods.  And definitely not in my neighborhood. Next…

Then there’s the “this is just the way it’s done now” argument.  I hate this one.  I award you no points for it.**

**Holy cow I just made my second Billy Madison reference! Now I gotta make at least one more…

Finally, there’s the “my daughter has swimming and soccer and tutoring and church group” and just “doesn’t have time” to do it on her own.  I’ll get to this one in a little bit (but let me kill the suspense: I don’t buy it).

Look, I get that prizes are a big deal, and I also get that the people who organize these fundraisers brainwash kids into making outrageous sales goals by waving toys in their face like cocaine.  For instance, when I was in fourth grade, I was determined to sell enough magazine subscriptions to get a really cool SuperSoaker – the gold standard of aquatic firearms.  To do so, I had to sell 50 subscriptions, but I only ended up selling about 12 (thanks Uncle Steve!).  Unfortunately, this was just enough for a cheap Styrofoam airplane.  Bummer.

Eventually I learned that I would never be one of those kids who sold a million subscriptions and got a drum set or a minute inside that device that makes it rain dollar bills.  At my school, the only people who got those prizes were the kids who had super rich parents that either (a) bought a million subscriptions, or (b) bought them for the company they owned.  Those kids are the ones got the cool prizes.  Not. Fair!

Which brings me back to Girl Scout cookies.  Your kid is “just too busy” to sell cookies on her own?  Lame!  I mean, how does it help your daughter’s “people skills” (Girl Scout goal #4) when the entire operation is passed to her well-connected mom or dad?   Here’s a thought: if your daughter is super busy, maybe she shouldn’t expect to sell 5,000 boxes of cookies (after all, two of the stated purposes behind the whole sale are goal-setting and decision-making). 

Furthermore, those parents who sell cookies at the office are usually the ones who collect and account for the money involved, which defeats Girl Scout goal #3 – money management. 

Hate to say it, but pretty much the entire purpose of selling cookies (as stated by the Girl Scouts themselves), is defeated when parents take over and hit up their co-workers. 

Am I the only one who feels this way? I FEEL LIKE IM TAKING CRAZY PILLS!!!

I know that I am young and naïve, and I can already hear moms telling me why I’m way off base and why “some day I will understand what it’s like” and how “this is just the way things are done now.”  Scout moms and dads can be a tough bunch.  Trust me, I know…

A few days into my current job, a woman in my office was making the hard sell.  When I told her that I didn’t buy cookies from parents she pretty much tortured me until, in a moment of weakness, I gave in and bought a box.  I’m no Jack Bauer.    

People will do whatever works for their own family.  But if your kid is looking for my business, he or she would be wise to ask residents of our household in person. 

As for me and my daughter?  Well, I intend to be her coach, not her quarterback.  That means she will definitely be hitting you up in person.  And as Scar would say, “be prepared,” cuz she already makes a mean sales pitch.  Heck, if she can convince me to give her the remote control in exchange for absolutely nothing, then I’m pretty sure she’s gonna find a way to get you to buy a few boxes of  Do-si-dos.  And maybe a box of Tagalongs too…

Oh by the way:  Knibb High Football Rules! 

How Cool Parents Deal With All That Halloween Candy

If you were a cool parent, you would let your kids bring their Halloween candy into their rooms…

I have to admit that I absolutely love hearing about what parents do with their kids’ Halloween candy.  Why?  Because whatever a parent does with it says so much about how cool they are.  And being cool is obviously very important to Jackie and I – that’s why we wear matching shirts. 

(Our poor kids…)   

Anyway.  Last night, we took Jimmy and Riley out trick-or-treating for the first time (obligatory mention of the fact that our kids looked adorable).  Those two babies accumulated quite a bit of candy in just 30 minutes time, which got me thinking: what the heck am I gonna do in a few years when they start filling pillowcases with Skittles, Almond Joys, and Twix bars? 

Here’s how it went down in my house:

Until I was about 12, I went trick-or-treating with my brother.  After hours and hours of effort, my parents would take our candy and dump it all into one drawer – a drawer with restricted access.  For a month of two, we could only tap into the drawer for one or two pieces of candy after dinner.  It was basically communism. 

Note: I should have seen this coming because one of my mom’s favorite sayings was: “this isn’t a democracy, this is a dictatorship.” One day I’m gonna catch myself saying this to Jimmy and Riley and, at that moment, I will know things have come full circle…

While my parent’s approach saps out the incentive to snag as much candy as humanly possible on Halloween (cuz I knew everything I “earned” would be shared with the rest of the family), it didn’t stop me from…well…snagging as much candy as humanly possible on Halloween.  Another obvious benefit is that my brother and I didn’t have hoards of candy at our disposal with which we could totally destroy our appetites and teeth. 

But there are other approaches. 

There’s the capitalist approach, whereby each child keeps what he or she has earned in separate drawers such that it cannot be touched by other siblings.  This approach is an economist’s dream because it fully rewards the child for his or her “labor.” 

But since when have economists known what the heck they’re talking about? 

There’s also the “pure” capitalist approach, whereby each child not only keeps what he or she has collected, but can also take that candy into their own bedroom at any time.  To a kid, candy in the bedroom is key.  In terms of being a cool parent, this approach is by far the most superior. 

As a child, I was always jealous of other kids whose parents took this hands off approach.  These were the same kids who had bedtimes well after 11pm, ate “Lunchables” and Oreos every single day, and watched rated R movies when they were 10 years old.  So lucky!

But here’s proof that kids shouldn’t be responsible for their own candy consumption:  when I was a kid, I hated black licorice (and still do).  And yet when we got to the bottom of the candy pile, I still ate it!  To recap: I hated it, and it was bad for me, but I still ate it because it was in front of me and it was candy.  Kid rule: horrible candy is better than no candy. 

Gotta love kids.  

And now that I have two of my own, I’m not sure which route to take.  The Republican in me thinks the government (me) should stay out of the private sector (Jimmy and Riley’s earnings).  But the concerned parent in me says perhaps Stalin knew a thing or two when it came to Halloween candy distribution.  

And then common sense says: why the heck am I even equating Halloween candy distribution to different forms of government in the first place?

Here’s another approach I’ve heard:  let the kids indulge in their own candy for a few days (say, three), and then throw it all away.  Here, the kids see an immediate benefit to their hard work, while the long-term effects of overconsumption are mitigated by the three day rule.  To a kid, this is obviously a horrible plan.  I mean, even kids know the old “bait and switch” when they see it.   

*HATE* the bait and switch…

But my boss has an interesting spin on it: in his house, the Easter Bunny comes and takes the candy a few days after Halloween, but leaves video games and books for the kids.  It’s basically a trade.  Here’s my take:

First and foremost, I give him props for the creativity.  I mean, incorporating the Easter Bunny into Halloween?  Never would have seen that coming!  Secondly, as a kid, a candy-for-video games trade might actually have been something I’d have been willing to consider – especially after several days of feasting on peanut butter cups.

My only problem is that this would just get confusing.  Indeed, this would make me think the Easter Bunny was incapable of filling all those eggs on his own.  Surely the Easter Bunny doesn’t need to trade for Halloween candy just to fill his quota of Easter Eggs, right?  I mean, next you’re gonna tell me Santa has outsourced much of his North Pole operation to China… 

The other problem with this Easter Bunny encounter is that it associates Halloween (evil demons) with Easter (Jesus).  Not that the Easter Bunny has anything to do with Jesus…  Either way, it’s official: we won’t be employing this tactic in our household. 

Here’s another approach:  let them have a few pieces of candy on Halloween, and then throw it all away that night.  This is great for cavity prevention, and devastating for morale.  Needless to say, I would *never* do that to Jimmy and Riley.   Even if I wanted to, Jackie wouldn’t let me (and she would be quite right).  I mean, if my parents were communists, and other, more permissive parents were pure capitalists, then this approach would make me some kind of tyrannical monarch.  It’s just un-American.    

Regardless of what we choose to do, my kids will likely catch on to the value of one activity common to all forms of government: bribery.  Yep, I’m a sucker for bribes, and I just might be willing to trade some leniency for a few pieces their finest candy.   

They just better not tell me all they have left is black licorice!

Dont cry, Jimmy, I’m not gonna steal all your candy!

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