The Scrooge of Halloween

October 31st, 2009

Halloween gummiesI recently realized that my stance on no candy in the classroom is in the minority, the vast minority. I want to be a nice teacher, but I can’t stand having kids eat candy during class. If they’re hungry and need a snack, I feel like they should have actual food. I used to allow it but found candy can be a big distraction. If it’s a small quantity, the other kids are jealous; if it’s a big pack, suddenly there’s a big candy distribution scenario. The worst part is the big high, followed by the even swifter low. Sure they’re awake for the first 5 minutes of class, and then they’re asleep, drooling on the desks for the rest of the 75 minutes.

I don’t feel like I need to allow it, even though it seems like everyone else does. I tell them, food in the classroom is privilege enough. They don’t buy it. Our school, for all its “Healthy Vend” machines, helps not at all. Unlike the elementary schools and middle school, there are no rules against candy or cupcakes in high school classroom, just selling it in the cafeteria.  There are also no rules against selling or distributing them in the hallways or common spaces outside the cafeteria.

Result–Halloween week: Guess the Candies in the Jar, (sponsored by Student Council) and win a huge quantity of candy; Dunkin’ Donuts decorated in orange and black on sale for some fundraiser (usually a sport or club); kids toting candy in boxes, on sale for other school sponsored fundraisers. Here’s a story my colleague Bobby told: last year, after some kid started beating up on another and was brought to the office, other kids raided his candy box. They left the $40 in cash, and stole the candy. (Candy=crack.)

That doesn’t begin to cover the kids bringing in their own candy, cookies and cupcakes, and my colleagues supplying candy to their classes. I think the theory is sharing candy is sharing goodwill. I admit, the kids do love it, and in fact, may very well feel loved as a result.  In our culture food, especially sugary food, equals love.

I see that my position on candy had made me the Scrooge of Halloween.  Maybe the kids would understand my position more if I brought something in for them that was a healthy alternative. Instead, I completely opted out of Halloween. We don’t even get trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood, so no bagged candy, no costumes, no decorations. It’s like we’re a different religion.

I’m also a hypocrite who loves candy. Make that a recovering addict. Does anyone seriously expect the dried out drunk to buy the next round? Really, that’s me. Do I really want to purchase and surround myself with candy when I finally admitted to myself that it makes me feel awful? It’s also an ideological stance: whole foods. Candies, which are composed primarily of highly processed white sugar, chemical flavors and colors, are a far cry from food.

Yesterday I fell off the wagon. I found myself first eating a Twix because a chocolate craving took over from nowhere. Or rather, the craving came from everywhere; all day wherever I looked, there was candy. I bought a full size package of processed sugary tastiness from the vending machine in the faculty room (because it’s okay for teachers to be tempted by unhealthy vending machines, but not kids). Then, zonked after school, I raided Hannah’s stash.

My colleague Hannah keeps candy in the classroom we share, because she is frequently giving it out to her students. Then my kids come in and I tell them “NO CANDY ALLOWED” and feel mean and defensive about it. I figure, they’re in high school; if they want to rot their teeth and poison their bodies, they can do it on their own time. I don’t need to aid and abet.

Left alone after school ended yesterday, except for teachers running down the hallway for Friday after school “Boot Camp” workout, their footsteps mocking my own sloth, I graded and graded and graded. Feeling utterly lethargic, I started eating Hannah’s Sweet Tarts, which really weren’t very good, but as soon as I began, I couldn’t stop. From there I moved to Laffy Taffy, which is dangerous for my dislocating jaw and furthermore there were only banana flavored ones left after the kids had picked over the huge variety pack, which made sense because really, does anyone like artificial banana?

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