Tag Archives: candy

Happy Valentine’s Day! Don’t Give Me Cooties!

no romantic dinner Restaurants, florists and jewelry shops would like to convince you that Valentine’s Day is for lovers. And that passion will grow if you just fork out a fortune at a crowded restaurant, buy a dozen long stemmed roses on the most expensive day of the year, or purchase an overpriced diamond that has a used street value that’s less than a non-Smart cell phone.

Valentine’s Day does serve that minute population of those who are newly in love – those optimistic souls who met on Match.com within the past two or three months and whose relationship is still at the stage where they lock the bathroom door when they use the toilet. For the other 99.9% who are in a relationship, Valentine’s Day is kind of a hassle – especially when it falls on a weeknight as it does this year. The rest of us are too exhausted to go out and celebrate, and if we do, we’re too sleepy and bloated to consummate the evening after a big fancy meal.

This year my husband Tom and I will do what we do every year: buy each other a funny card. He’ll make his famous jambalaya, which is tastier than any restaurant, and for a fraction of the cost. We’ll celebrate the most romantic night of the year by dining with our three children. Jake will complain that he doesn’t like it, so he’ll get a bowl of white rice. Emily the vegetarian will have a separate meatless bowl, and Mary will try to nab the last piece of garlic bread. Our meal will be served in the kitchen. There will be no candles. No romantic music. And I will do the dishes.

We have a special event this year on Valentine’s Day evening. Jake is having a Cub Scout Pack meeting. Tom and I will celebrate by giving each other a little smooch during the event, then wait for the cubs to mutter “Eeewwww! Gross!”

The demographic that really caters to Valentine’s Day are children 12 and under. They celebrate by buying Valentine’s Day cards for every member of their classroom. They’re not allowed to just bring something for the boy or girl they have a crush on. They must also deliver a card to the boy that creeps them out or the girl who’s a big tattletale. Even the kids who give other kids cooties receive cards asking “Will You Be My Valentine?” Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year when you can tell that girl who doesn’t bathe often that she’s as sweet as Snow White, and she won’t think you’re hot for her. And although boys bring cards for boys and girls bring cards for girls, that doesn’t make them gay. Although it’s ok with me if they are.

kids cards

Kids’ Valentine’s Day cards come in a huge assortment, advertising hit Pixar or Dreamworks movies and Disney or Nickelodeon tv shows, and they usually have some accompanying prize attached. This year they include Brave cards with pencils, Phineas & Ferb cards with tattoos, Star Wars cards with glow sticks, and Transformers cards with erasers. I didn’t see Family Guy valentines, which is a good thing since Jake would have chosen them and all the elementary school parents would know that I’m a bad mom for letting him watch a show that would be rated R if it was live action.

Somehow I just don’t see the romance in Transformers. What kind of wish do they give the recipient? “Have a Apocalyptic Valentine’s Day?” “Be My Disastrous Demolition Valentine?”

tween cards

For the tween set, there’s Justin Bieber with tattoos that say “I heart JB,” Twilight Breaking Dawn with stickers, and Mustache cards with tattoos (where did this big craze about mustaches come from? Charlie Chaplin? Burt Reynolds? Hitler? Fodder for another blog).

mustaches

Jake picked out the cards from the movie Madagascar 3. It features Valentine’s Day wishes combined with circus advertisements for the cast. “May Your Valentine’s Day be Just Darling” also hawks “Gloria – the World’s Most Graceful Hippo.” I doubt Jake gave any thought as to whom he should give this card. However, if I was an overweight girl, I would be terribly offended.Madagascar 3

Crafty moms make hand-cut cards and fancy treat baggies, downloading ideas from Pinterest, Etsy, and Martha Stewart. I’m not one of those moms. Even if I had time on my hands I wouldn’t be one of those moms. I’m not creative or crafty, so whenever my kids have to build a class project like a Leprechaun Trap or a Spanish mission, I pimp out my oldest daughter Emily who lives her life outside of the box.

Most of the kids tape some sort of treat to the bag, usually SweeTarts or chocolate kisses – the official candies of Valentine’s Day. I might steal the kisses from my kids, but the SweeTarts get tossed into the candy bin that holds all the Easter, Halloween, birthday piñata candy, and a lone half-sucked on Christmas candy cane.

Jake’s teacher this year is forbidding treats of any kind, which will most likely cause a riot on the playground at recess with those kids nabbing candy from the students with more lenient teachers. Jake’s Valentine’s Day card package included temporary tattoos of all the Madagascar 3 characters. I’m hoping that Jake’s teacher doesn’t classify non-edible items as treats and allows them as gifts. On the other hand, even though tattoos and stickers may be classified as non-edible items, there is a good chance that some of the kids will still try to eat them – especially if it is something of the scratch & sniff variety.

By coincidence, on Valentine’s Day this year, Dr. To (pronounced “toe”), our local pediatric dentist, is coming to all the kindergarten classes to show kids the proper way to brush (follow the link in her name. She’s Jake’s dentist and we love her!). Then on Friday she’s doing the same for the 1st grade classes. This is perfect timing, since other than the day after Halloween, the day after Valentine’s Day will be the day most likely for rampant sugar to rot baby teeth.

Although Jake’s friends possibly spend hours addressing Valentine’s Day cards (or their parents whole minutes), I’m never sure what to with all those grams after the holiday. Jake and I read them together, and before the weekend they’ll magically disappear into our recycling bin.

Isn’t that romantic?

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Easter: The Religious Holiday That’s All About the Candy

Jake: My Little Bunny

The evolution of holidays can be a little comical. Who would have guessed that when the Indians (AKA politically correct Native Americans) held a welcome dinner for their new neighbors – the Pilgrims – that that nearly 400 years later it would all be about grown men screaming at their flat screens, trying to urge some college boy with a pigskin to “Run! Run! Dammit! Run!”

Two centuries after a golden child was born in a barn, we celebrate with a fat man (AKA politically correct “slightly overweight male”) stuffing Hot Wheels and iPod accessories into “stockings.” “Stockings” bear no resemblance to actual socks or pantyhose, and instead are just large bags decorated with evergreens, winged cherubs, and magnified snowflake atoms.

And just 33 years after the previous event, we celebrate the rising of a dead man (AKA very politically incorrect zombie [I am so completely kidding with this blasphemy because my God has a sense of humor]) with baby ducks, fluffy bunnies, and sending children off in search of colored hard-boiled eggs and plastic ovals filled with anything that will rot baby teeth.

When I was a child, my mom would hide Easter baskets for my siblings and me. The baskets were filled with shredded plastic hay, foiled-wrapped chocolate eggs and a large chocolate rabbit. Mom was not a very good hider. The basket would be stealthily perched behind the living room drapes, on the top of a bookshelf, or underneath a dining room chair. Within seconds of getting out of bed we’d be munching the ears off defenseless brown bunnies.

My oldest daughter Emily was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 3, so I never started this sugar-filled tradition with my children since they’d be getting their fill of candy later in the afternoon. I can justify that I saved them from the bitter disappointment of realizing that the large chocolate bunny was actually hollow and not filled with fudge or creamy nougat. Or I can think that because I’m a much better hider than my mom, that my kids would be spending all Easter Sunday searching for a basket that was melting in the attic, in the cupboard that stores the mousetraps, or resting on the top of our backyard telephone pole.

With the exception of the whole going to mass thing, Easter was always one of my favorite holidays of the year. When I was a kid, we’d get together with the rest of the Flynn aunts, uncles and cousins at my grandparents’ home and all the cousins would have an Easter egg hunt. My Aunt Helen has a super-8 film of us dressed in our Sunday best as we all ran through the bushes searching for colored eggs. My youngest sister Teri was about 3 years old and the film shows her trying to bite through the shell of a hard-boiled egg. Today Teri’s a charge nurse in Riverside and has to pump the stomachs of children like herself who digest foreign objects that are not meant to be edible. I guess it was destiny.

The Flynns are now spread out all over the western states, so today it’s just my immediate family that travels to my sister Tammie’s house in Fontana for the big Easter egg hunt. Besides my 3 kids, I have 6 nieces, 4 nephews, 2 great-nieces and 3 great-nephews (including one coming in July), 5 step-N&Ns and one nephew/Godson who can’t spend Easter with us anymore because he died in a tragic motorcycle accident last year (but like Jesus – the big Easter Man himself, I believe he’s with us in spirit). We make The Waltons look like a nuclear family.

Every Easter Tammie hauls out a bin large enough to store a Great Dane, and it’s filled with empty plastic Easter eggs. The adults spend a chunk of the afternoon filling the eggs with candy while the kids decorate more hard-boiled eggs than they will probably ever eat in a lifetime. Then we hide the hundreds of eggs around my sister’s backyard, hoping that the hiding spots are not so clever that the kids will bypass them and the candy will instead be eaten by one of Tammie’s many goat-like dogs who will literally eat anything that’s not nailed down. She used to have several pet bunnies (which were appropriate for Easter), but even though they resided in a Fort Knox-like cage, they were attacked by the seemingly sweet dogs.

There aren’t any Easter ducks in Tammie’s backyard, but she does have two chickens roaming around, and for some reason the dogs ignore them. I assume that beaks present a more dangerous weapon than an adorable twitchy nose. During today’s Easter egg hunt, one of the kids found a large pile of non-colored eggs in the bushes and realized that they were not the plastic variety, but instead a hidden stash laid by the chickens. It was a little late in the day to hard-boil and stain them with vinegar-scented coloring, but they’ll probably make a nice omelet tomorrow.

Because it was a beautiful Southern California day, the kids had been splashing in the Jacuzzi so they hunted for eggs in their bathing suits. If you’re reading this from Canada, aren’t you just a tad jealous?

I am writing this blog on my laptop as my husband drives all home on the traffic-filled 10 Freeway. There are lots of other minivans and SUVs around us, filled with people like us who just spent a fun-filled day with friends and family, good food, and a fruitful search for candy-filled eggs. My kids are exhausted, which is a good thing since tomorrow ends LAUSD’s spring vacation, and full bellies and a long car ride home are sure to mean a good night’s sleep.

Now on to the next big holiday: Memorial Day. It’s a day that we honor all our country’s soldiers with charcoal and hot dogs.

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Trick-or-treat! Smell My Heat! Give Me Something Good Or I’ll Tag Your @#$%& House!

Teen trick-or-treaters

When I was a kid, you pretty much stopped trick-or-treating sometime in junior high (what they now call middle school). Trick-or-treating was for little kids. Big kids went to parties. And as much as teenagers might like to have a bag full of Kit Kats and Snickers, the humiliation of being teased was not worth the free sugar high.

My daughter Emily is now 15, and Halloween is still her favorite holiday. Today she brought home four of her friends from high school. Were they going to a party? No. Tonight they’re going trick-or-treating.

When Emily was a toddler, trick-or-treating in her blue and white checkered dress and sparkly ruby slippers, and carrying a stuffed Toto in a basket, our neighbors loved to open the door and greet her.

“Look! It’s Dorothy! Can you click your heels three times and say, There’s no place like home?”

I’m sure they thought they were being clever, but we probably heard that line 20 times each Halloween.

Today Emily is 5’7” and has curves like Marilyn Monroe. This year she’s wearing black leather from head to toe in her authentic Cat Woman costume. Her friends are dressed as Tonks from Harry Potter, a pumpkin, Rorschach from Watchmen, and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. I asked them why – if they are clearly no longer children – do they continue to trick-or-treat.

“It’s fun,” I thought they’d say. Instead:

“It’s the only time that we can dress up and act like children and still have it be socially acceptable.”

Emily and her friends go to a rigorous humanities magnet school, so an answer like this one is not so surprising.

Halloween is no longer just about the candy. Particularly in Emily’s case, candy is a bit of a hindrance. She has type 1 diabetes and can’t have a bite without an insulin injection. Most of her friends will pop a few pieces, but they plan to give the bulk of their booty to their younger siblings.

They also talked about selling it. I think they were kidding.

These teenagers love dressing up in costumes and traveling in a group. And it’s nostalgic for the good old days a decade earlier when they wanted to hold Mom or Dad’s hand when they crossed the dark street trick-or-treating, even when there weren’t any cars coming.

I’m embellishing this last sentence. I guess I’m nostalgic for the good old days. At least my 5-year old still holds my hand. And my 10-year old lets me trick-or-treat with her for a couple of blocks. Then she ditches me and joins her pack of middle school friends.

My kids: Little Lightning McQueen, Middle School Zombie & Teen Cat Woman

Emily’s teen friends mentioned that they like collecting a variety of free candy. I asked what were some of the more interesting trick-or-treat gifts they’ve received. I expected them all to say “pennies” or “an apple.” Their answers surprised me.

“Dental floss.”

“A Jesus pamphlet.”

“The guy’s phone number”

That last one was from my daughter, which really creeped me out.

I honestly don’t mind handing out candy to these kids (and yes, they are still technically kids for a couple more years). The ones I don’t like are the gaggle of teens who trick-or-treat without much costume creativity. Preschooler boys might have more facial hair than my husband, while the girls have unrealistically red cheeks and lips. At least I know it’s part of their costume. For the local teens, beards and lipstick are just part of their normal daily appearance. Do they really deserve one of my Dollar Tree gumballs for so little effort?

Instead of gratefully taking a piece of candy, they grab handfuls of the stuff. Then they go back for seconds.

“One piece each, please,” I want to tell them. But I’m afraid I’ll piss them off and they’ll come back to my home another day and tag it with their spray paint.

“STINGY HO!” will be plastered on our front door. However, no one will be able to read it since typical gang-speak graffiti is virtually illegible.

Or I’m afraid that as they’re going door to door trick-or-treating, they’re actually casing the joint. For those of you too young to know that term, it means seeing if you’ve got good stuff to steal.

The good news is, we ain’t got good stuff to steal.

The bad news is, we ain’t got good stuff to steal.

The costume-less teens also seem to be clueless on how to respond to the question, “What do you say?”

“Uh… trick-or-treat?”

“Actually, the answer is thank you.”

“Thank you,” they either mumble or shout like it’s a big joke. There’s rarely a polite “thank you.”

I’m scared that by giving these potential hoodlums a little lesson in manners, it’ll just piss them off, and they’ll be back when they see my car’s not in the driveway to teach me a little lesson in pissing them off.

So what’s the real age cut-off for trick-or-treating?

I don’t know if there’s an answer. But my guess is – if you’re old enough to trick-or-treat with your own children, you probably shouldn’t be bringing your own goodie bag.

So tonight, if you see a beautiful Cat Woman exclaiming “Trick-or-treat,” followed by a very polite “Thank you,” don’t be a creep and give her your phone number, or I’ll come back and tag your house.

And believe me, the word “Creep” on your front door will be very legible.

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Filed under Anxiety, Humor, Parenting, Teenagers