The great candy exchange - FamilyEducation

The great candy exchange

November 02,2011
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

Now that Halloween is over and done with, so begins the quiet and sneaky ferreting away of candy to parental offices all over the country. Yesterday my candy bowl on my desk was brimming with Halloween treats, and word had spread fast among students. Strangely, I had a steady flow of students I hadn't seen all semester in and out of my office and they all left with their pockets bulging. Most years L. and T. lose interest in their candy stash after a few days. They forget about how much they had, and as long as I keep the candy out of sight (I stash it in the laundry closet) they often forget to even ask about it. 

This year, though, I could tell things were going to be difficult. The kids ended up with more candy than ever before--in large part due to the weather. It rained for Trick or Treating and neighbors were only too happy to dole out more candy than usual.

"Here! Take a bigger handful!" We heard one man say at his front door. L., of course, was only too happy to oblige. As a resut the haul was tremendous, and I couldn't believe my eyes when he dumped his pillowcase on the dining room table (that was new this year, too--the first year L. took a pillowcase instead of his plastic pumpkin. Plastic pumpkins are for elementary school kids, he told me.)

T. was pretty impartial to giving up her candy, although she told me she didn't want to give up too much. L., though, was fiercely possessive yesterday when I suggested I take half his bounty. Clearly I needed to be more creative in my approach.

"How about if I buy your candy?" I asked, suddenly inspired. "You can keep twenty pieces, and I'll buy the rest."

L. stopped in his tracks, interested. Nothing gets his attention more than the mention of money.

"For how much?"

Hmmm. It had to be enough to be worth it, but not too much to break the bank. "How about eight dollars? Eight dollars will buy a Clone Wars figure at Target, won't it? Or a book at Barnes & Noble?"

T. clapped her hands. "Eight dollars is great, Mama!" 

L. wasn't as enthusiastic, though. He looked at his candy, strewn across the table. I knew he was thinking about the solid hour of trick or treating in the rain. The cold wind. The heavy pillowcase slung across his shoulders.

"Ten dollars is better," he said. "You can't buy much for eight dollars."

"Okay," I said. "We'll make it an even ten dollars." (I might have paid much more to get that candy out of our house. Shhhhh, don't tell the kids.)

"For twenty-two pieces of candy," he said. "Not twenty. Ten dollars and we keep twenty-two pieces."

T. looked at me, then back at her brother. I think she was holding her breath.

"Sure," I said.

I helped the kids divide up their candy. When they had counted twenty-two pieces each their ziploc bags looked a little empty next to the mountain of candy left on the table. I thought about the rain-soaked walk last night, T.'s heavy pumpkin swinging in her small hand, L. hunched under the weight of his pillowcase, and his own plastic pumpkin left behind this year. I relented.

"Oh just make it thirty pieces," I said. "Put ten more pieces in your bags. Quickly, before i change my mind."

"How about thirty-two?" L. said. "Can we make it thirty-two?"