Sometimes a lollipop is just a lollipop. (Apologies to Dr. Freud)

telly savalasLast night, feeling a bit punchy after a long day I tweeted Sometimes it’s just easier to say yes, you can have a lollipop, than to come up with a reason why not.

It’s true. Not because I don’t know how to say no. (See also: The stale Halloween candy that turn into goo in our pantry every year until we finally toss it the following October.) But because sometimes there is not a particularly good reason to say no to your kids.

I say no as a knee-jerk reaction a lot. I’m trying to learn to say yes more to harmless requests that make my kids happy. Thalia wants grated cinnamon on her pasta? Sure. Sage wants to skip all the way to the subway station? Eh, why not.

While mostly Twitter friends last night  laughed or agreed or whatever it is people do on Twitter when we’re feeling generally good (or honest) about ourselves, there were a few more surprising reactions. These included calling out my parenting skills and ability to make sensible decisions for my children with the implication that “I owe them better.”

Better than lollipops.

Then, a whole bunch of people I don’t know at all, spun the debate into something I had nothing to do with, because I had shut the computer to read bedtimes stories to my kids.

Breastfeeding? CIO? Mommy wars? Sooooo 2007. Last night, a small minority of the parenting world reduced itself to non-ironic fights about whether lollipops are the downfall of our children. Or maybe just my children.

My failure-destined, diabetes-guaranteed, lollipop-consuming children.

Weirder yet: these people didn’t even live in Park Slope.

Despite the fact that I thought the entire thing was hilarious, and that should my waif-like children gain a single ounce from eating lollipops it would actually be a win–I thought I’d clarify my thinking about lollipops and children. Eh, maybe it will be helpful to those six parents who care, or who are looking to form their own rules and perspectives around the perceived evils of organic cane sugar and pumpkin-derived orange food coloring on a stick.


In fact I still remember the mom on a message board 7 years ago who bragged about giving her one year old a candle in a pumpernickel bagel spread with cream cheese because she was horrified by the idea of her child tasting cake. I saluted her commitment too. And felt bad when 600 anonymous moms flamed her for it.

2. I happen to believe in everything in moderation. Except for broken crayons, of which we own far too many.

3. I am convinced that giving my children lollipops will make them like me more which as we all know, is our main obligation as parents. This is why my children are limited to no more than a 17 an hour, but only after 10AM which seems entirely reasonable. Except on Sundays.

4. On Sundays, lollipops do in fact make excellent breakfast food, especially if you roll them directly in cereals like Count Chocula. I call it The Vampire Suck, and the kid go keerazy for it.

lollipops! oh noes!

My terrible parenting skills: Exhibit A.

5. Hyperactivity claims linked to single lollipop consumption are grossly overrated. My five-year old was still able to fall asleep at 11:30 last night and hello? That’s not even midnight.

6. Sugars are not poison. That’s not my quote. It’s Marion Nestle’s. On the other hand, Arsenic is poison so we make extra sure to label the Arsenic bowls in the kitchen really well, to differentiate them from the sugar bowls.

7.  There is actually a band called The Lollipops and they have a song called “I Will Not Harm Your Man.” Coded message perhaps?

8. Telly Savalas was frequently photographed eating lollipops and never killed a single person. Ghengis Khan was never once photographed with lollipops. You draw your own conclusions.


Now, armed with the essential lollipop information that you have no doubt looking for from the very moment you peed on that stick, go forth and make your own parenting decisions.

Stay tuned for the post in which I describe the time at a Madrid street fair that our children ate cotton candy bigger than their heads–and lived to tell the tale.

gihugic cotton candy


120 thoughts on “Sometimes a lollipop is just a lollipop. (Apologies to Dr. Freud)”

  1. Dang, you make your kids wait until 10AM before they have their first lollipop of the day? You are HARD CORE. I can only aspire to such levels of strictness.

    Heh, always funny to see what brings out the internet sanctimommies. Glad this episode of judgment-central was laugh-worthy.

    I absolutely know what you mean about the knee-jerk “no” to most requests. I’ve been trying to say “yes” a little more often, too. I’m sure that means my kids will turn into spoiled brats who eat nothing but junk food in 5, 4, 3, 2….

  2. I loved your tweet, Liz. I feel strongly about not saying ‘no’ to my children unless I have an actual reason that makes sense. Sometimes that reason is related to their health or safety, sometimes it is related to my ability to provide for the family (i.e. I cannot stay up all evening and play Nintendo with you…I need you to sleep because I have work that needs to get done), sometimes it is related to respecting others, and sometimes related to my need for balance (Mommy needs a break right now). Sometimes it is common sense (i.e. I will not fix you a snack while I am fixing dinner).

    But if I can’t actually give them a reasonable explanation for why I’m saying no, then I don’t. I think it is irresponsible for me to wield my power over them, just because I can. And maybe I totally judge people who do that. 😉

  3. As the mother of a girl who chain chews gum, I shall remain silent and hope the sugar police don’t come to rescue my kids.

  4. I often do the knee jerk reaction “no” as well — and like you (and Annie) am really trying to have a good solid reason for it.

    When I think about the people who won’t give their kids lollipops, I’m reminded of my own experience of not getting lollipops which entailed me gorging on junk food, sodas, and everything I couldn’t have as much as humanly possible.

    And also, I tend to think that the people who are so against lollipops could probably use one themselves.

    In their ass.

    1. Now, *that’s* a Vampire Suck.

      I can’t stop laughing. Non-ironic fights about lollipops are the BEST.

      Also? I want that cotton candy picture for my avatar.

    2. I’d rather not have a lollipop in my ass, but I am kind of against lollipops. So sticky.

      However, I do LOVE little debbies. Like, the Zebra Cakes? I’m trying to avoid my toddler getting a taste for them, but it’s probably unavoidable, since as soon as you can smell that crap it’s like wafting crack in the air. She finds my stashes sometimes and is like “Daddy, what’s this? It looks yummy!”

      I WAS one who didn’t get much sweets as a kid, and now I have to eat them shame-facedly on the down-low to avoid scolding from my wife and temptation for my kid. Yeah, I’m a hypocrite, as I’m still trying to figure this stuff out. Which means I’m probably perpetuating the problem I grew up with with my own daughter. And that I need to avoid turning my back on Motherhood Uncensored.

  5. I see nothing wrong with letting kids enjoy something sweet. I am a firm believer that if you do not let your children enjoy things (in moderation) then when they are old enough, they will do it behind your back. That could end up a lot worse. I say a lolli pop a day keeps the secrets away!

  6. I had my first runin with aa Sanctimommy at athe grocery store over sugar a while back. I take the kid to shop on Sunday mornings and let her pick something as a breakfast treat. Usually she gets one of those neon Danish things. In the checkout line a little girl pointed out that my kid was allowed to have sweets, to which the mother responded, “I love you too much to let you eat food like that.” WOW, right? It is a Danish, not crack.

    1. Oh, the responses I’d have in my head for her. A good hour after I left the store.

      I’m getting increasingly weary of all the parenting judgments based on a single snapshot in time.

    2. I spend a lot of time talking to my kids at the grocery store about the choices we make and why we make them. It is never an “I love you too much to let you eat food like that”, but it is sometimes a “we don’t buy those pears because they have pesticides on them and that might cause cancer or reduce your chances of being able to have a baby.” I have felt badly when I see other people then putting down the food item I was talking about, but I think that educating my children about the food choices we make is important. Saying “because I said so”, when she asks why we aren’t buying those pears isn’t a good enough answer (as per my above comment and Liz’ post).

      1. I too spend time explaining we can’t buy this or that for whatever reason but I would NEVER comment on someone else’s choices like that unless they were feeding their kid broken glass. We don’t buy factory meat; R has asked for hotdogs at the store over and i explained why we don’t get them. But as Liz said above, I would never comment on someone else’s single Sun AM shopping cart. Way too presumptuous.

      2. How old are your kids?! Cancer and reproductive fitness? Maybe “healthier” or “grown in a better way” or “have less things added that people don’t need in their food” might be a more positive way to introduce good eating? I dunno, adding the illness and fear factor seems…unduly negative? Not just for your kids but for anyone around you!

        1. Jen – go easy. I think Annie speaks very candidly and specifically with her kids about why they make the choices they do, and actually I think that’s pretty awesome. Kids are capable of understanding a lot. Her comment actually made me think a lot about how to talk to my kids about some of our decisions.

        2. Jen:

          My kids are five and seven. They generally demand pretty specific answers. If I said “have less things added that people don’t need in their food”, I would get a lot of “what?” and “why?” from them. They ask questions and I encourage that by giving them frank and age appropriate responses.

    3. At a party recently I caught myself just *after* I told my daughter we were going to eat “real fruit” and redirected her from the gummy candy a.k.a. “fruit bites” that the host’s kids were eating. It was dinner time, they hadn’t even had a slice of pizza yet and I really didn’t want them diving right into the candy. I did feel bad, I hope the host didn’t hear me.

      1. Well, but that’s true! And the host did offer the fruit too, right? It’s not like you were making comments about the fruit bites, just redirecting.

    4. So, a couple of times when my kids were littler (toddlers, preschool) I had them in the grocery store (mistake #1) and when they were pleading for hundreds of things I defaulted to “because it’s sketchy”. In my mind, at the time, that response was somewhere between a long-winded explanation about artificial colors created in Trenton NJ and “because I said so”. NOW when my kids are grocery shopping with me, they still ask for hundreds of items, by name “Mummy! Can we PLEASE get the sketchy yogurt PLEASE! Just this once…”

  7. I’m kind of comforted that I’m not the only one who has that Ziploc gallon bag full of Halloween/Easter/Valentines candy that just sits there and eventually ends up in the garbage 🙂

    My son begs…BEGS for salad. My daughter eats so many strawberries I’m surprised she hasn’t turned red. And, at the end of the day, after dinner, if they ask for one measly piece of candy from said Ziploc, I don’t even think twice about saying yes. And you know what, I have yet to lose sleep over it.

  8. I agree with the “everything in moderation” view. I think it’s ok to give kids non-organic lollipops, too (don’t judge me :)). We were not allowed sweets at all as kids, and we always raided the kitchen cupboards when my mom was resting after lunch (farmers have weird schedules). To this day I wish my parents would have taught me that one treat is ok, so that I wouldn’t feel guilty for every single thing that goes into my mouth. So I would argue that in fact you are doing your kids a favour by letting them have lollipops 🙂

  9. I agree with Deana. My theory? Only one mom’s opinion. There are only so many “no”s that can come between parent and child before the relationship is soured, as tweens they start to defy us and they don’t really like us.

    So while they are young pick the handful things that really matter to your family–it can be around food or anything–and then let the kids know these are non-negotiabile. For every family it is different, of course. I think we increase the chance our kids will comply with the values of our family and the rules of our home if we put the important ones up there in bright lights and let the things that matter less to us slide.

  10. Liz, this made me chuckle inwardly as I read it, but the “sticks, rocks, and lichen” thing made be blow a bit of snot on my arm. Great post.

    1. It’s really not a complete day until I’ve coaxed some snot out of someone’s nose. Thanks for that.

  11. Are you serious? People actually called you out?

    P.S. #4 is genius. Pure genius.

    P.P.S. #8 is also genius.

    P.P.P.S. The cotton candy photo accompanying this story is more geniuser than genius. You win the internet.

  12. I’ve never seen sugar go to anyone’s head the way it did when my younger son had ice cream when he was small. You could set a timer for when it would kick in. He seems to have grown out of it which is nice because now there’s less planning that has to go into a treat.

    I can’t imagine say no to the occasional lollipop. Speaking as one who just participated in a frosting taste test at work – a life without a sweet treat now and then just seems — joyless.

  13. Liz- I grew up in an era when, if you didn’t have two six-guns, you were a geek (I mean that in a bad way,) I allowed my two boys to have all kinds of toy guns – super-soakers, Nerf, you-name-it (not to mention swords and knives.) I mean, I grew up into a staunch advocate of gun control, never tried to kill anybody, don’t own a gun, and probably never will. I frequently met parents who would not allow their kids any type of toy gun. It amused me that these same kids would aim frying pans, baseball bats, and whatever else their imagination could turn into a machine gun, and make shooting noises as they mowed down the other kids. Oh yeah, and occasionally, lollipops too.

    1. My brother and I weren’t allowed to have any kind of gun either – water pistols may have been the one exception. I can’t say that I played gun games all that much, but I do remember my brother making an 8mm film in third grade with lots of ketchup around the dead guy for blood.

  14. Let’s start a new wave of feminism. The Lollipop-Feeding Moms: for women who simply want to bring harm to their children, often in the form of sugar, tv, and other pleasurable activities they might enjoy. Seriously though…why can’t we mommies all get along? Come on people. Let’s respect each other’s choices even if they are not the same as ours. For God’s sake it’s a lollipop, not heroin!

  15. I feel strange admitting this but it took me reading an article about a year ago (which I’ve tried tirelessly to find this morning with no luck) to realize that it is okay to say yes.

    Once again you make me smile & nod my head 1000 times over in agreement.

    There are times when Madison will have an outrageous request for breakfast. Most of the time I say no and steer her in the direction of sensible breakfast. But hey, sometimes I want a brownie or a turkey sandwich for breakfast… why can’t she want AND have something different one day?

    I never want her to think that there are no special treats, fun times to break the rules or that her requests will always be met with a no.

  16. That cotton candy photo is awesome! (And made my teeth hurt just looking at it.)

    I also fight the knee-jerk reaction to say no. Life is so much more interesting when I’m not being a control freak, and as long as there is no harm in what my kids want to do I try as often as possible to just stay out of their way and let them do it.

    But what do I know? I let my kids each get a lollipop from the bank when they are good there, and I didn’t realize that was worthy of collective scorn on Twitter.

    1. I have to say, when they handed one of those cotton candies to the girls we were like oh shit…we should just have them split it.
      Then we thought eh…what the heck. It’s one time, one night.

      For what it’s worth, Thalia now claims she doesn’t like cotton candy any more. So there you go.

  17. I too fall into that category of mom’s who mainly says no to the important things. I pick my battles wisely, as I’ve learned through my own upbringing, that too many no’s, can lead to a lot of sneaking around and dishonesty. My biggest pet peeve in all of this, is why are other mom’s so judgemental? We are our own worst enemies. Why can’t we all just respect and support each other as mom’s? We would all be better for it! I recently wrote a post about this very topic.

  18. My only concern with lollipops is that my daughter never finishes one in a single go, so I have little plastic sandwich bags with sticky, half-eaten lollipops on my counter.

    But as a picky eater who- surprise!- has a couple of picky eaters for kids, I’m sort of used to the food police judging me. (Right now, someone out there is reading this and thinking that I turned my kids into picky eaters by setting a bad example or something like that. I think that the truth is closer to “I passed the genes that make vegetables taste bitter on to my kids” but whatever.)

  19. Not even midnight … snort. That was great. If lollipops produce gorgeous photos like that, I say go for it. Ruin her.

    I barely even remember the fog of first world, huffy know-it-all-ism that comes with having an infant and then a toddler, the time I basically cared about shit like this. I like to think that once you have a second child or once your solo hits 5, you mellow considerably and half of these debates don’t matter. My kid told me she wanted to moderate in moderation the other week, so I gave her a bag of pop rocks and a coke. She made it. I think they all will. Great, great column.

    1. I’m so so with you Mike. It’s nice to be at a point where I can laugh at it all instead of feeling offended or upset. As for pop rocks and coke, I’m just glad Mythbusters disproved that chestnut before you gave it a whirl. Phew.

      1. Just wait, it gets even better in late teens and the college years. You’ll begin to look back at lollipop wars with such fondness. The simple times, the happy times. The times when you had a bit of control of their lives and hardly anything was permanently damaging.

        Then they get driver’s licenses and so do their friends. They lose their phones in their messy dorm rooms and don’t answer texts that say “are you still alive?” for a verrrrry long time.


  20. Dude, I OFFERED my kids a lollipop last night. They didn’t even ask. I had a pedicure go wrong this week (don’t ask) and I popped in to the salon to make a “fix it” appointment and she said she’d fix it on the spot. Well I’d just picked up my kids from camp (working mom, you know) and we were on our way home, where I’d promised dinner. But, fix the botched pedicure. It was too attractive to say no. So I offered the kids a lollipop and an iPhone for games to entertain themselves for the 15 minutes it took to fix my toes.

    Sugar + electronics + taking care of myself + delaying dinner + working mom +who knows what else = things I’d never post on my Facebook wall because just this week posting my 7 yo has taken to saying “Hmm let me think about that” prompted one “friend” to lecture me that my parenting had #epicfailed and my kid was a wiseass. I do quote.

    We need to lay off the extremism and hate across the board but definitely when we ladle it on parents. The people I happen to know and like are also people I will gladly extend benefit of the doubt that they do a good job.

    In other words, I 100% agree: sometimes a lollipop is just a lollipop, even when it’s a bribe and sometimes that’s okay.

    Other people tell me my kids are LOVELY and I believe them because at heart I am sure these fabulous genius people who recognize my kids’ stellar qualities (which abound) are totally correct.

    1. The lollipop is the one reason I can get my kids to sit still with me through hair appointments. GOD BLESS THE LOLLIPOP.

    2. I agree — people who comment on how lovely my kids are? Clearly some perceptive and observant people. People of good will and good character. It’s an easy litmus test for me (and it still works, even for the mostly grown ones).

    3. I’m so glad to hear that you also use the iPhone to entertain your kids! I’ve gotten a lot of looks from people (and not the good kind!) when I ‘ve given Calvin the phone to entertain himself while I shop, get a pedicure, or just try to talk with a friend over lunch. He’s not surfing porn on YouTube, for God’s sake! Just last week he made 2 new friends – bonding over Tiny Wings while I was getting a piece of jewelry repaired. And miracle of miracles — the boys’ dad actually smiled at me!

  21. If you soak the lollipop in bourbon for 5 minutes, the kids will sleep like angels. I mean, so I’ve heard.

    (hi liz! it’s that chick formally of wikipedia that you met at that crazy supermodel event. LOVE this post.)

      1. We were way hotter than those models.* And we ate dessert.

        *except for maybe Christy Turlington who is super hot in that “oh this? I just threw this cashmere around myself and voila” kind of way. But I’m pretty sure she didn’t eat dessert either.

        1. Dude, I just LOLed so hard I bit my tongue. The blood in my mouth is really doing nothing for the flavor of the lollipop I was enjoying.

  22. If treats are forbidden and soooo bad for you, then howcome each nice (and not so nice) restaurant always has “deserts” menu?

    But self-righteous internet – after certain point one can only laugh – there is no reasoning with anonymous. I really think that lollipops/sugar/formula/10.000 mile diet/TV/video games/late sleep are not bad in itself when done occasionally, but anonymity is the bad thing that happened to all of us as it has the power to bring the best and worst in people. Nobody is quick to pass judgement on friends, family, coworkers, neighbours (because, hey, they will be around next day), but passer-by in store, tweeted comment, posted article – hey there is open season, fire at will!
    I’ll just bring popcorn. The greasy, buttered ones. With lots of salt.

  23. I was so 100% on your side, I stayed up late last night getting into lollipop fights on twitter (also, I had just eating a bag full of delicious lollipops and couldn’t sleep! jk). First of all, excessive rigidity re: food is a hallmark of disordered eating; as a mom of girls I take this really sort of thing way more seriously than a single, silly lollipop. {I’m with you, offer healthy food and emphasize moderation.} Second, making statements like, “my kids never eat junk food, it isn’t that hard to say no” is a hallmark of sanctimommihood. yuck.

  24. Liz, I love your sense of humor! And your perspective. Thanks for the reminder to say “yes.”

    And the judgments based on a single snapshot… UGH. (And yeah, all the good comebacks occur to me long after the moment is over.)

    Also, I like what you wrote a while back about teaching your kids that it’s okay to disagree with others but that’s important to be respectful. My kids will often question why so-and-so gets to do something/have something that they don’t. At which point I bring out my standby: “Different families, different rules.” And explaining that we have chosen to do things differently in our family. Not that our way is better, it’s just different or what works for us.

    Also, for some reason your post got me thinking that it has been a while since I’ve let my kids snack or eat dinner in front of the TV. Too long, in fact 🙂 I’m thinking pizza and a movie sounds good.

  25. My son is only 14 months old so his lollipop days are all ahead of him. But, today we were at a burger place, only strange since I live in a small town inNorthern Thailand, and while I ate mt burger on a bed of spinach I handed wee Ajax a French fry. Hell, I can’t eat them, somebody might as well. The owner, a pal, and 8 months pregnant asked if he eats a lot of fries. I had that paranoid moment of giving my baby fried food terror. Which passed in 15 seconds. My huge blissfully pudgy boy would eat nothing but fruit, yogurt, and chicken if I let him. If the baby wants to eat three fries with lunch, I say more power to him!

    And yes Liz, this is that Wendy. You and your readers crack me up!

  26. Dang girl. I adore you. Truly.

    I saw your tweet last night. I almost said to you…sometimes there is no good reason to tell kids no to a snow cone at 7:45pm. Shrug. It’s summer and they are only kids once. Moderation, yes. For sure. There are a zillion fruits and veggies in my house. There is also Oreos, ice cream, Cheetos and a snack drawer filled with real sugared crap. Whatever. I refuse to buy the double priced supposed beet enriched, no sugar, as much calcium as milk!!!!! fruit snacks. I’ve always preferred the real sugar route.

    I saw a mom once go ballistic on the bank for asking her elementary aged kids if they wanted a lollipop. I felt truly bad for those kids. “We never eat sugar.” Ahhh fun childhood. Wanna bet whose kids will only eat fast food and sugar as adults? Probably not mine.

    In other news my girls are both about 4% on the weight scale (my son is 25th%) and I’ve spent their lives telling doctors that I refuse to put whipping cream in their milk soooooooo yeah. A lollipop is never bad.

  27. Ok this is not related to your post but…eh…used not once but twice. Are you a Canadian, eh?

    From a Canadian who gave her little ones lollipops & still loves them herself 😉

  28. My daughter recently attended a Willy Wonka birthday party, complete with a candy dots “Lickable Wallpaper” wall, candy hanging off trees and shrubs, and a chocolate fountain. It was magical and amazing. The little girl’s father was ambivalent about providing that much sugar to guests but, you know, Willy Wonka party…informed consent was implied by attending, was my feeling.

    My kid ate as much candy as she would have on halloween and the surplus is sitting in a bag in my pantry, all but forgotten (just like any other candy-collecting holiday.) She remembers the party, though, and the joyous, indulgent, abandon of picking candy off the trees and dipping strawberries into flowing chocolate.

    Moderation in all things, *including moderation.*

  29. Seriously, there are some battles not worth having with kids and really a lollipop?

    No is too often the first word out of my mouth. So just yesterday, at the pool I let the kids get an ice cream treat–they both picked snow cones and only ate 1/2 of them–if that. Did it harm them? No. Was it before dinner? Yes and for them it was glorious.

    They still ate their whole dinner and shared a smoothie. I think about the “treats” I let myself have. It’s only right that my kids get them too and they know it’s a treat. Which is why we also throw away 99% of the Halloween candy in April to make room for the Easter candy in our pantry. The Easter candy is still there and will be tossed to make room for Halloween candy.

  30. Great post. I love the cotton candy photo at the end. Every kid needs a treat as big as their head every once in a while.

  31. The ability to treat yourself to something (delicious, expensive, frivolous, take your pick) every once in a while is one of life’s true pleasures. And doling out a treat now and then to my son and seeing his eyes light up is one of my life’s other pleasures.

    Don’t deny me my little pleasures, you lollipop-haters, ‘kay? Sometimes they’re all that gets me through the day.

  32. People who know me but have not been to my house are often shocked — SHOCKED — when they enter my house for the first time and observe that atop the buffet cabinet in my dining room I have a row of 20 glass mason jars filled with different types of candy — and it’s all for my kid. Because — wait! I write about nutrition and sustainable food policy! And I’m a vegetarian! And therefore I must be one of those people who thinks kids should never eat candy, right?

    In fact my son almost never can eat candy, when we’re out, because he’s allergic to peanuts. He can’t have the chocolate sample from the lady at the farmer’s market. He can’t have the cake his friends’ birthday parties. He can’t have the ice cream from the ice cream store. Because one bite of any these things could ACTUALLY kill him. Now. Not, like, the “could theoretically infinitesimally increase his chances of heart disease” sense of kill him but the “could cause his throat to swell completely shut in under ten minutes” sort of kill him.

    So you know what? When I see a type of candy my kid can eat I BUY THE HELL OUT OF THAT and if he wants “just one piece before dinner” he can damn well have it. Life is short. And his is already far too full of no.

    Anyway he asks for like one piece of candy every other day, tops.

    1. You’re a great mama, J.

      This is the perfect example of why we can’t judge a parent on a snapshot.

      1. I love this comment.

        Aside from the sentiment, the visual of 20 mason jars full of different kinds of candy is so lovely!

  33. 9. My kids made rock candy in their summer science class; ergo, candy makes kids smarter.

    1. Now that is my kind of logic.

      I did promise my kids we’d make rock candy this summer; thanks for the reminder.

  34. Thank you for a much needed laugh! laugh out loud belly-laughs. Genius. Brilliant. Hilarious. Exhibit A, #8, cotton candy, every single word-absolute perfection.

  35. Laughing for reals! This is really funny. Never thought to label that arsenic. I’ll get right on that.
    Also- let’s be honest, those no sugar, no tv, banging rocks together kids are going to be total weirdos when they grow up. They’re not going to learn how to moderate themselves because all of their choices have been moderated for them.
    My philosophy is this: I say ‘yes’ as much as possible, but when I say ‘no’ there’s no changing it.

  36. Until someone shows me that having candy will prevent my children from growing up to be good people, I’ll indulge their sweet tooth.

  37. My parents owned a corner store when I was growing up. I had access to unlimited amounts of candy. I rarely ate the stuff… but my BFF growing up would gorge herself every chance she got. There was a zero sugar policy at her house. Same with TV, so she’d want to watch TV instead of playing outside when she came over to my house. Yep, moderation is a good thing in my books!

  38. This just cracks me up!

    I still remember the first time I caved and let my nagging son have a lollipop (And WHY does every dentist/doctor/store clerk that my child meets, give out lollipops anyway? because the kids LOVE them, that’s why.)

    I worried he would instantly turn into some sort of sugar addict, immediately forsaking all other food only to get another fix. He sucked on it for maybe 30 seconds and said, “I’m done” promptly handing it back to me.

    One of my best friends praised the whole ‘no sugar EVER’ thing, even serving fruit for her son’s first birthday party. Her son was a dream child so I suppose I thought she must be onto something. I realize now that he was a dream because she’s just a really chill person/parent, and the no sugar thing was just her panic reaction to the fact that she IS a sugar addict. It was the age-old, “I won’t let my child make the same mistakes as myself” problem.

    Anyway, you’re right, moderation is the only way to go. And I’m amazed at how well my son moderates himself with lollipops… he’s really more of a chocolate kind of kid 😉

  39. This is fantastic! Thank you so much for this hilarious piece–SO good to laugh and be reminded that self-judgment doesn’t bring anything good to anyone (generally :). Thanks again 🙂

  40. No lollipops?! How would I bribe/reward my kids? Or at the very least, help their ears as we’re landing on a plane?

  41. The problem with stuff like this (in general, not your post specifically, which was so clever, Liz) is that it so often goes down a bit sadly, I think. Some strongly-opinionated nutball with a narrow lens focus flips out about a parent like you (thoughtful, careful, loving, etc.) giving her kid a damn lollipop. Who cares? There’s no perfect formula. We all love our kids. We all worry. We all care about nutrition. I personally detest lollipops for many reasons I could list and my kids have maybe had two in their lives, but they get ice cream daily from the espresso stand because LATTES AND ICE CREAM, THE GENIUS.

    But then, the conversation takes a subtle shift, which I did sense in these comments, I have to say. Suddenly, it’s the “cool” moms club. The ones who don’t say no to their kids. The ones who know childhood is short. The ones who don’t sweat a little SUGAR for god’s sake. The ones who are doing it right … maybe? Just a little. And now we’re right back where we started except we’ve turned the tables on little miss anti-sugar. Oh what a bad, sanctimonious, unfortunate mother she is. Her poor kids.

    God, I hope you know, I’m not criticizing you or this post or the comments. It’s a pattern I see and a trap I fall into and the mommy wars are notorious for it. I’m just thinking too seriously out loud about a silly topic. Long live lollipops and the mothers who love them.

    1. Perfectly valid points, and I thank you for them. I think we often bond over our choices, whatever that may be. Here someone may feel “cool” for their practices, while those very same choices are not so cool in other places. It feels safe to confess our good and our bad, and in that safety, it’s easy to take that shift you mentioned. I appreciate you calling it out, because it’s true.

      And hell yes, long live lollipops.

      1. And look: constructive criticism, sans snark. It can be done. And can be received well. Viva la lollipops!

  42. I took my three year old to a coffee shop the other morning at 9ish and he wanted a cookie, I said fine. Then the guy behind us said, “A cookie for breakfast?” To which I was quick to point out it was his second breakfast. Then once we were outside, I was like why did I have to justify myself to random guy behind me. Also, to further justify myself it was a cowboy cookie so there were nuts, oats and rasins….in with the chocolate chips. Seriously, who does not want a cowboy cookie at 9am?

  43. I think it’s fair to say that we’re all just doing our damn best– saying yes or no to lollipops, saying–too loud and too righteously “I love you too much to let you eat that.” It’s a DAMN hard world out there if you’re trying to raise a kid who eats healthy food and we’re one of first generation of moms up against the FrankenFood Industry and it’ multi gagillion dollar media budget. When all we’re trying to do is get our kids to eat healthy and grow strong, we find ourselvess BATTLING media, pre-school menus, lunch ladies and don’t even get me started on the freaking holidays (which come up every 4-6 weeks). We’re all faced, as 2012 moms, with the sad fact that a rogue lollipop is not the issue… it’s the fact that by the time we get around to that lollipop, it’s quite possible our kid has had 4 days worth of the recommended daily intake of sugar already that day because it’s in our bread, yogurt, crackers and peanut butter. Treats are not the problem— the fact that our “healthy food” is laden with the stuff previously reserved for the lollipop is the problem. It’s made us crazy— crazy enough to say things like, “I love you too much to feed you that” loud enough that another poor mama doing HER best can hear? It’s a tough “raise a healthy kid” world out there. We gotta hang together!

    1. I’m with you Julie…mostly. Nate is a righteous foodie of the highest order and he schools me daily on the agro-industrial complex, the evils of the corn lobby, and the slow downfall of society vis a vis processed foods. I’m also on the record as having major issue with HFCS and their predatory promotional and advertising tactics. So I get your point. Really. However I am also down with lollipops, obviously and Nate’s not above a Little Debbie binge.

      But I don’t think that saying loudly, I love you too much to let you eat that for the sole purpose of publicly scolding the parent in front of you is anything I can endorse or “hang together” with, you know? For all that mother knows, the kid just got out of the cancer ward. Or came from a funeral. Or eats free range eggs and handmade turkey sausages every single morning except Sundays. Or…who knows. It’s just bad manners if nothing else.

      I think there are ways to talk to your kids about food that don’t imply (or flat out state) that other parents don’t love their children. Is that really a good message to send to your kids? Those kids are not loved? Or was that mother just trying to prove herself superior to another mother in front of her at the supermarket.

      I actually like that Annie (PHD in Parenting) said above that she says rather specfically “these pesticides can cause diseases.” I would just assume she is saying it for the benefit of her own child, and not loudly, for the benefit of people around her.

      1. Agreed. I guess my point was just to say that I think it’s understandable that the food world is making us all a little crazy—and we all do stupid things sometimes. I agree that “mama buying kid sugar” is completely and wholly entitled to do so without any verbal assaults… However, “mama saying stupid things” is also entitled to be having a hard day when stupid things come out of her mouth–especially in the face of the constant barrage of bad food pressure we face as mamas. I know I’ve said things that I immediately want to take back–I would hope the “i love you too much” mama felt the same….

  44. HAHAHAH. I totally hear you. Your kids can eat lollipops with my kids, and then we can all go out for ice cream. Just because.

  45. My Gran had the same motto, everything in moderation. It included all the food groups and the occasional tot of brandy. She lived the age of 95, in good health for 93 of those years.

  46. I have a 2 year old. You know what her most favorite thing in the world is right now? Shaved ice. Snow cones. My girl will lose her everloving shit for a snow cone. You know what her favorite thing in the world was last week? Avocados. I actually had to physically remove an empty avocado skin from her grubby little fingers to keep her from eating it. I have no idea what next week will bring, but I’m up to my eyeballs in tomatoes and candy bars, just in case.

    I figure I have years and years and years of saying “NO” ahead of me. Letting my toddler have the occasional sweet treat, or stay up past her bedtime, or pick out her own (completely mismatched) clothes: small potatoes. I have a girl. In 11 years, I will have a TEENAGE girl. “No” will have it’s place in our lives soon enough, I’m sure.

  47. My husband was grabbing lunch at IKEA with my kids last weekend. He put apple juice on the tray because it was easy and came in portable containers. My kids don’t drink juice at home. Mostly because I’m cheap and a bottle of juice for my 5 kids would be gone in a day.

    The child behind my husband in line asked his mom for apple juice to which she promptly replied, “I have NEVER let you drink juice! I would be a terrible parent to give you all that needless sugar.”

    I’m so very sad it was my husband in the line because he’s too nice to turn around and say something fresh to that moron.

  48. Parents of young children have no clue what is coming in the teenage years if they get all bent out of shape about a lollipop. Jen’s comment earlier said it all.

    As an example, when my kids were young I would never buy sugar cereal. Now that they are teens, having that cereal as a late night snack is actually preferable to most junk food.

    Sugar and treats are the least of my problems…my 16 year old daughter is getting her license soon and thinks she will be driving all her friends around town. Uh, no. Every day it’s something…

  49. This is the post I wish I could have read and understood when my 5 year old was 1. At least for me what spurred the judgement was insecurity in my own parenting. Now 4.5 years later with another child I have way fewer “We don’t do ____.” and a lot more ” I know I said I never would but then I had kids.”

    Like Annie I find a balance with lots of yes and good explanations when it’s a no . Don’t confuse an explanation with negotiation or giving in. A good solid reasons give them ammunition for making informed decision themselves someday which ultimately is what I hope to do as a parent.

  50. Are you trying to say I’m wrong for letting my 9-month-old subsist on a diet of lollipops, Lucky Charms, and Red Bull?

    If there’s one thing the internet has taught me, it’s that people will turn anything into a controversy. So not worth it. The internet should be about creating community, not tearing each other down.

    Then again, my family eats all those lollipops, so what do I know?

  51. As always, thank you. If we say “no” all the time the kids aren’t going to know the difference between “no, you can’t have a lolly pop” and “no you can’t turn on the stove.” Love the post. Don’t let haters or perfectionists get you down.
    Long Live Lollypop!

  52. I freaking love you. You are by far my favorite person that I don’t know.

  53. Awesome!! I laughed all the way till the end of this post. I’m planning to link this to my Friday post, which should be up in…..well, before your kids go to sleep – 11.30 p.m., you know!!! 😛

  54. thanks for the laughs! This is so Brooklyn (but I guess now its everywhere) Everyone is nuts- I teach in Park Slope so I know 😉
    Love that cotton candy picture!!!!

  55. I’m with you – everything in moderation. Not to mention, I have a child with a sensory processing disorder, and one of the ways in which it has manifested itself is in feeding. He is still highly texture sensitive and has a limited (albeit growing with going on 2 years of occupational/feeding therapy) palate. One of the things his therapist recommended to reduce oral defensiveness was, you guessed it, a lollipop a day! If another mother would so much as open her mouth about the Dum Dums and See’s lollipops in my shopping cart, she would definitely get an earful.

    1. Perfect example that we can’t judge on a snapshot. Thanks Leigh Ann – keep on keeping on, mama!

  56. Way late to this conversation, but speaking as the daughter of a dentist:

    Give her the damn sucker. Seriously, people.

  57. Might I offer an alternative to not having such simple pleasures as a lollipop lying around in the pantry:
    As a child in the early 80’s I found myself resorting to microwaving a piece of bologna as an after school snack. Now hear me out – it was really quite good. I’d toss a slice of Oscar Meyer in the ole nuker for 30 seconds, stand with my nose against the screen, and watch the edges of the sliced processed meat curl up into the form of a small bowl, leaving its sweet, vitamin and protein rich juices coagulated in its center – much like a bowl of miso soup! Voila! Instant snack in an edible cup.
    See? Without the presence of lollipops kids are forced to create their own healthy snack alternatives.

    1. Oscar Meyer bologna ingredients: Mechanically, Separated Chicken, Pork, Water, Corn Syrup, Contains Less than 2% of Salt, Sodium Lactate, Flavor, Sodium Phosphate, Autolyzed Yeast, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium Erythorbate, (Made From Sugar), Sodium Nitrite, Dextrose, Extractives of Paprika, Potassium Phosphate, Sugar, Potassium Chloride.

      I’ll weigh the options. But sounds like you had fun!

  58. Ok-this is hilarious and I love it. I say rock on to the occasional lollipop, cake, chocolate fountain, candy cigarettes….I mean candy sticks, and so on! Sugar is not poison-all things in moderation is right! A sweet treat is just that-a treat. Glad I found your blog!

  59. I’m a big believer in the “all things in moderation,” for sure. And sometimes, the biggest reason I can come up with for a “no” answer is “because.” And that’s ok. Because I say it is.

  60. The rest of this post is just amusing. But the part where “no” is kneejerk and I am trying to say “yes” to harmless requests? yes yes yes yes yes. This is me. It is so hard.

  61. Hilarious post. Loving the cotton candy picture.
    Unfortunately I am one of those sugar nazis when it comes to my son, and this is coming from the mom with her own mini cotton candy machine and candy basket. The kid turns into a complete psycho. I thought it was just me, however my cousin attended a 1 hour trip to the beach and we were eating gummy bears, I literally gave him 3 and within minutes, my on an average well behaved son was crazy and I wasn’t the one pointing it out either.
    However, encouraging to hear that one moms son grew out of it *fingers crossed*

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