I dropped my son off at camp this past weekend, and couldn’t help reflecting on how things have changed since I first did that six summers ago. There was an ‘absolutely no candy’ rule then. Never mind that the camp itself served ‘bug juice’ (a form of colored sugar water) and there were plenty of ice pops and the like to be enjoyed, parents were to be sure that the kids didn’t pack any candy for their stay, nor could we send any in care packages from home.
Last year, however, I noticed a change in the packing instructions: “Okay, it’s out in the open. The Director views a Snickers bar as survival food.” The paragraph then goes on to tell parents it’s okay to pack a small stash of candy and sodas for their children’s enjoyment while away.
Maybe I’m overstating the significance of this, but to me, it seems like this is a big step forward, making it okay to feed kids candy again. While sugar has generally been on the menu at schools and the like as part of desserts or drinks, candy usually isn’t. And after years of talking with parents both as a nutritionist and at school gatherings, I saw parents divided into two main groups over the subject: those who were either adamant that “no candy shall pass my child’s lips” (the extreme and the minority) or those who cried “what can I do? They like it” (the guilty, definitely the majority). Perhaps now, with the camp director’s approval ;), parents can begin to feel better about giving kids a food most of them like themselves.
Knowing how restriction can make food more enticing, I’ve always allowed my kids healthy doses of sweets. My son was more of a challenge than my daughter. He preferred sweets to most other things (except butter….). But I’ve been recently encouraged that I didn’t go wrong by not trying to dampen down his sweet tooth. When I dropped him off Sunday, even though he could have, he didn’t pack any candy or soda for his stay. He hadn’t forgotten it; it just didn’t matter that much to him. There’s a lesson there.