Thursday, March 11, 2010

Food for Thought Thursdays: the Candy Drawer

Janet here: As I contemplated becoming a parent, among the many things I pondered was how I would navigate food, and while there was an abundance of things I had no intention of repeating with my children — forcing them to clear their plate due to starving children in India is just one example — I was very clear that we would absolutely have a candy drawer. I didn't want my sons to play with guns but I was certainly not going to deprive them of sugar. (The gun idea went out the window when my mother-in-law gave one to G for his fourth birthday, proclaiming my anti-gun idea "ridiculous." That, of course, is a story for another day.)

Although my friends could snack at will in their houses, obviously making their homes pretty popular among the neighborhood kids, only my house had a candy drawer. True, I had to ask permission to actually open the drawer and get something out, but it was such a wonderful treat. I never knew what I would find when I opened the drawer after my mother went shopping. Sometimes it was Twizzlers; other times it was M&Ms or Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. The actual candy was kind of irrelevant; the point was that opening that drawer was a little piece of Christmas every time.

Rachel here: You know, I'd never thought of this before, but I think that the candy drawer may be the source of my undying love for sugar. Sure, my brothers are both capable of not consuming sugar on a daily basis, but I seriously feel a little emptiness lurking in some dark corner of my stomach/heart (they're sort of interchangeable at times) if I go a day without anything sweet. And, as was the case for my mother when she was growing up, the candy drawer at my house when I was growing up made our home a living legend of sorts amongst my friends. I mean, you can see the picture's AWESOME.

The thing about the candy drawer, though, which is indicative of my mother's general approach to food with us, was that food was not forbidden (except for soda...a line she drew that remains a bit of a mystery to me, although I guess soda is more unwittingly habit forming than a candy bar...or certainly a chance to consume a boat load of sugar without realizing it in a way you might be less prone to when you have to unwrap and chew each saccharine caloric portion). It's not like we ate a bunch of crap all the time or anything (we didn't have sugary cereals and you couldn't just eat sugar whenever you wanted), but I think the idea was more that denying children food who are learning how to relate to their bodies and its needs is a silly and discouraging exercise. If you want chocolate, eat it! Just don't eat it endlessly. We got to learn, with guidance from our folks, that moderation is a good thing and this is a lesson I am grateful to have been brought up, it tasted good.

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