Last year Halloween was not that exciting for Annika. She didn’t seem to understand the correlation between running to each house and the collection of MORE candy.
This year was not much different. We gathered at a friend’s house for a pre-trick-or-treating potluck. When it was time to go out to get the candy, Annika was busy drawing. We were the last ones out the door.
Once in the street we had to remind her to run to each house, even though all her little friends were excitedly racing up to ring each doorbell.
One of our friends had brought a wagon and the kids were taking turns riding in it. Once Annika got it in, she didn’t want to get out. After some time, I insisted that she get out. I didn’t want to be the one whose kid was hogging the wagon and everyone let her just because she threw a tantrum.
I have begun to struggle with the idea of being open to allowing Annika to have her needs and desires, all the while setting boundaries. She’s old enough to understand sharing. And she does share. We discuss it often.
But on the other hand, here she was, foregoing candy in favor of riding in a wagon. If nobody else cared, was it so bad to just let her stay in the wagon? She likes candy, so it’s not like she didn’t understand what she was giving up. I kept asking her, “Don’t you want to get out and go get more candy?”
“No,” was her reply. “I want to ride in the wagon.”
Even so, I was feeling uncomfortable with her insistence on staying in, while other kids stayed out. After several houses, Toyin and I looked at each other, seemingly on the same page as to what needed to happen. I pulled her out of the wagon and she began to flail and scream. A couple of moms made gestures, saying the other kids were okay, they didn’t care. Annika could stay in the wagon. But we stayed firm. She had been in long enough and it was time to give it up for another kid.
It wasn’t even so much that there were other kids clamoring for the wagon at this point. But it was the communal wagon. Just because you go to a party and there’s a huge spread doesn’t mean you can eat all the food even though nobody happens to be eating it at the moment. You’re supposed to leave some for the other guests.
But I wonder if I ruined her Halloween? I mean, she’s not really old enough to be gracious ALL the time. So when do you start insisting on social norms? At 2? At 3? At 4? I think it should start when you know for sure that your kid is cognizant of what’s going on. There are lots of things I give in to Annika on, even when other parents wouldn’t, because I’m sure that she’s not there developmentally. But last night I was feeling pretty firm about the situation.
She was whiny and tired too, so we decided it was time to go.
Funny thing is, she didn’t even ask to eat any candy until her little friend pulled out a lollipop. Then she wanted a lollipop. We convinced her to eat a piece of chocolate instead, so we could brush teeth and hit the road.
When we got home she didn’t even mention eating candy. And this morning, she pulled out her pumpkin, looked inside then abandoned it on the couch in favor of another toy.
We did end up eating a whole bunch of candy at a friend’s house this morning. But even so, candy didn’t turn out to be a big deal this year.
How did your Halloween go? Do you think you’ll do anything different next year?