We don’t do trick-or-treating in our house. Never have, hopefully never will. As a scroogey vegan with easily-scared-of-anything-dark-spooky-or-creepy children who don’t even like candy that much, we’ve avoided it very nicely by doing other things on October 31 like roast pumpkin seeds, eat fun food, and listen to “Monster Mash” on repeat.
Well, leave it to homeschoolers to be creative… Our homeschool community seems to feature “trick-or-treating” at Halloween at the park we go to each week for classes and hanging out with other homeschoolers. This year, my older son came home from Halloween park day with a bag full of candy that was handed out at the park. I appreciate the parents who only gave him vegan candy, but hmmm… what to do, what to do?
After some deliberation, I decided to do what many non-candy-eating/vegan families do: I took his candy. Well actually, I didn’t take it. I bought it. He’s in the habit of saving money and he really likes saving money and then using the money to buy things like LEGO. (I will tell you that the two times he has bought things for himself, he has independently chosen a small something for his little brother. All together now: Aaaaawwwww.)
So I combined my desire for him not to eat all of that candy with his desire for money and my desire for him to learn math. Yes, I get two desires satisfied and he gets one. I’m the Mama, that’s why.
I told him to organize his candy by type and size. He did that happily. The kid loves organizing, what can I say? Then I told him I’d pay him a penny for the smallest, a nickel for the medium candies, and a dime for the largest. Then I told him to add that up. It came to $1.20.
He stared at me. It didn’t sound like very much. I told him I would eliminate the penny category and had him recalculate with nickel, dime, and quarter denominations. Better.
He dug his heels in and wanted to hang onto two boxes of vile food-coloring-infused candy. I told him I’d give him 40 cents for each box if he handed them over to me. We negotiated; he the wrong way: “How about 30 cents each?” he asked, trying to look sly.
“Wrong way, baby,” I replied. He squished his little face up, thought hard and proposed 50 cents each. And so it went.
$3.51 later, I had a bowl of candy and he had a smile on his face and a wallet full of hard-earned cash. Well, maybe it wasn’t hard-earned. But it was hard-negotiated and that’s the American way I suppose.
And he practiced math, reasoned out his desires versus my boundaries, and had fun doing it.
I guess some things are priceless. For everything else, there’s a lesson waiting to be taught and a scroogey Mama with weird rules who loves organizing and loves a squishy-faced 7-year-old with a wallet full of cash that he’ll use for sweet things that won’t rot his teeth.
Until next year…