It’s so hard to be that Mom who takes the lollypop away from my child
Dear Candy Man,
I have only the fondest memories of you. I can clearly envision the shul my family davened at when I was ten years old, and how I waited in anticipation for you to exit the men’s section after leining. I can picture in my mind how you shuffled out and would lovingly smile at each of us or stroke a cheek as you doled out the special treat of the day. I can only imagine how much simchah it gave you to see our eyes light up and a huge smile appear on our faces at the sight of you.
It’s been a couple of decades, and now my offspring stand in line excitedly awaiting your appearance. Then my little ones run back to me to open their treats. I quietly pilfer a bit when they do this, handing back half of a taffy, or only one lolly. Not because I still have a sweet tooth. You see, my children are sensitive to sugar. Very sensitive.
It took us a long time to make the connection between this Shabbos treat and our… non-seudah. But once we discovered that it was the lichtbentshen taffy I would give my kids that made them so hyper it could take over half an hour just to get through Kiddush and hamotzi, we put an end to that Friday night treat. But that’s at home. At shul, there’s only so long I can give my kids back half a taffy before they start to notice. And I don’t want to be the parent who doesn’t let their children do what everyone else does.
It’s not just you, Candy Man. When my children return from friends all wired and then tell me what treats they ate there, I have to remind myself that their friends’ mother doesn’t know what she’s subjecting me to when she opens the nosh cabinet and lets the kids party.
It’s so hard to be that Mom who takes the lollypop away from my child when another kid is handing them out to everyone at the park in honor of his birthday. But I know that if my child eats this treat, he won’t eat lunch. Then we’ll have a real situation on our hands. Is it too much to ask that we mothers be informed before the birthday boy proffers his treats? If that were the case, I could quietly leave before the festivities start. Or I could prep my kids and tell them that I’ll hold on to the treat until after lunch. But if it’s already in their mouth before I find out?
Please understand. My children are not deprived. We have nosh on Shabbos (though not the type with lots of sugar, food coloring, and MSG — think chips, popcorn, Doritos, Bissli, sandwich cookies, chocolate, and certain ice pops). We use jellybeans, as needed, to encourage the younger children to daven during vacation. They fully enjoy whatever sugar-laden delicacy they are given at father-son learning, a siyum at school, or whenever we as parents feel they deserve something special.
And my kids bring treats to school for their birthday or when a sibling is born. But I try to be smart about it. For my son’s third birthday, I sent goody bags with a small treat and an inexpensive toy. The feedback I got was incredible! So many mothers told me that their child enjoyed this much more than the usual nosh bag, and played with that toy for a couple of days.
So, Mr. Candy Man, thank you again for giving children a love of going to shul. Can I request, though, that you keep the nosh to a minimum, or hand it to the mothers to give to their kids at their discretion?
You might think that I’m being extreme. That I’m exaggerating, and I should let my kids enjoy their childhood. Maybe I am, but as a parent, shouldn’t that be my choice to make?
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 854)
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