Sunday, November 8, 2009

Halloween, the sugar fairy and the lost soccer ball.

Do you love it?  Hate it?  Or both?  Seems like a lot of parents have a real panic attack about all the sugar their kids are about to bring home on Halloween night.  They seem genuinely, and rightfully, concerned about the future of their kids' dental bills, and they miss out on the crazy fun that dressing up and trick or treating brings. I love that night.  Every year I don my long black rock star wig, a bright red turbin that I got in trade for a wrist watch in Rajastan, India, and paint my face to look something between an Indian sadhu and an African tribal warrior.  And then I slip into my faded blue Oshkosh overalls.  Gotta be comfortable.

After a couple hours of the costume parade and the door to door trick or treating with his buddies, Sage and I return home.  He is exhausted.  As am I. Then he spills out of his pillow case of about 7 pounds of bite size candy.  That's a LOT of candy.  But Sage is pretty generous.  He makes a small mound for me, complete with my favorites, Reeses peanut butter cups, and Smarties.  But that still leaves far too much candy for any one child  to have to self regulate.  Even with parental help.  What's a parent to do?
Years ago, I discovered The Sugar Fairy.  I am talking about the fairy who takes all candy offerings from little boys and girls at Halloween and Easter, and gives this candy to the children of the world that were not so fortunate to be recipients of such.  And of course there is a wonderful gift from the Sugar fairy to the child who makes the offering.

This year Sage offered a LOT of candy and was rightly rewarded for it.  A brand new (class 4) soccer ball.  I absolutely thought Sage was going to be blown away with the ball.  But he wasn't.  He came into my bed and didn't even mention what he had found in the place where he had left his offering.  So I asked him, "what did the Sugar Fairy leave this year?"  "Nothing.  YOU left me a soccer ball.  But I don't want it because the Sugar Fairy isn't real".  His sad and disgusted look stilled me. What was I going to do?
I tried squirming out of the fact that it was me that brought the ball, but Sage knew it was me.  So I tried the approach of "Santa's helpers":  that in reality Santa can't really get to all the homes in one night, so he bestows the honor on some of us to be Santa's Helpers.  And that is really the same as Santa bringing the gift.  But Sage wasn't buying this either.  So, for a while, I let it go.  Then, about half an hour later, Sage became really sad and started to cry.  I asked him why and he told me it was because  he now knew the Sugar Fairy wasn't real.  Yet another child fantasy dashed.  Innocence lost.  At this point there was much I could think of doing.  So nothing did I.
Next, I went on a bike ride.  Time for me to let it all go.  About an hour into my ride, I got a phone call from Sage.  "Hi dad.  You know how sad I was when you left the house?  Well, I believe the Sugar Fairy is real and I'm not sad now.  Bye."  Okay.  So what happened in this hour?  I asked Laurel, my 12 year old.  "Sage started playing with his new soccer ball and just started getting happy.  That all that happened."

So, for this year, the candy has been offered away to the Sugar Fairy, there won't be many worries about cavities, and the Sugar Fairy still holds a prominent place in my youngest child's life.
And then there is the story of the soccer ball.  Three days after receiving the ball, it was gone.  Just like that.  We have a yard that is enclosed by either a wooden fence or a hedge.  Sage and his friend Duncan were kicking it around, then came into the house, and next morning it was gone.  Such a story to get the ball into Sage's life, and then so quickly gone.
Another 3 days have passed and today I found out our 10 year old neighbor had found the ball outside our yard and took it to his soccer game yesterday and gave it away.  His dad says he will replace it.

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