Tuesday, 14 December 2010

14: A tale of two Advent calendars

Day 14 in Advent, and the worst of times. I want to pause all this silliness to discuss a serious issue:  pediatric sugar intolerance. I used to think that kids and candy bars were in some way compatible. Boy, was I ever wrong.
The hard stuff. 
My dangerous naivety left me on the edge last Christmashounded by a very short, very angry sugar-addict who would stop at nothing to get her next fix.

The nightmare began with a cute little advent Christmas truck that I found in the kitsch shop last year. I was drawn to the truck because my early childhood Christmas trees came home in an ancient Ford pick-up known affectionately as 'Sweat Pea'.

Christmas Truck took up residence on the kitchen windowsill. Newborn Ali had no interest in it, but Ana was transfixed. I allowed her one chocolate button every morning after breakfast. This worked for aproximately one day. Then she stopped eating breakfast, and instead stared mournfully at Christmas Truck with glazed eyes, whimpering.
Vehicle of minor delinquency. 
The whimpering didn't help her cause, but she whimpered on and on in denial anyway. Then one morning she growled angrily when I gave her a plate of eggs instead of 'CHRISTMAS TRUCK NOW'. After that bargaining kicked in. 'Pleeeeease? Candy in exchange for two bites of breakfast? Candy for burgled toys?' One morning she merely sat there in a deep state of depression, staring listlessly at the red beacon of unattainable sugar. Patiently, I waited for acceptance. It never came; she just reverted back to anger.

By Christmas, Ana had to have apple juice three times a day to ward off the sugar withdrawal tantrums. Those were tough days, but we managed to wean her off slowly. I hid Christmas Truck safely away in a dark corner of the garage, right next to Creepy Dog.

Now whenever I hear trusted medical professionals say that chocolate buttons are the gateway sweet to the harder stuff (candy canes, lollies and suchlike) I agree wholeheartedly, whereas before I used to think that sort of thing was pretty miserly. In addition to the hard stuff, chocolate button users often migrate to jaffa cakes...and aside from tasting silly, what is a jaffa cake anyway?

I'm pleased to report that the colour has returned to Ana's cheeks and she's got the cheeky twinkle back in her eyes. I am confident that this year, she won't try to sell her Christmas toys at pre-school to get pocket money for chocolate. Best of all, Ana has learned to cope with the occasional slice of birthday cake or odd party chocolate without plunging back into sugar-madness.

Christmas Truck, now demoted in rank to decoration, has been dusted off and put back on the kitchen windowsill this year with no sugar in his drawers. We are all so very happy with his replacement: Grandma's advent tree. This Christmas is our spring of hope after our long winter of despair.

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