I knew there was no winning this one: flu shot was not going to be popular. The sooner I told her what we were doing Saturday morning, the more the anxiety and upset could build. But the longer I waited, the worse the surprise would be.

I opted for 20 minutes in advance, so she couldn’t feel like I’d sprung it on her. After the announcement it was like driving someone to death row. “I don’t want a shot!” She alternately moaned, screamed, shrieked  and chanted. Nonstop. Until we arrived. They didn’t help matters when they told me for 2 years and over I had the choice of the sniff or the shot. OK the sniff, I announced. Day saved! But then the pediatric injection nurse explained the kids would have to hold it in, not blow their nose for an hour, and it would be uncomfortable. That combination seemed impossible for the 2-year-old and unlikely for the 5-year-old. Back to the shot.

My daughter tried to run from the room, and I as I did what I had to do I thought of Madeline Kahn in What’s Up Doc? being dragged across the ballroom floor as her heels make wiggly black tracks on the wood. (Please have heard of this movie and this actress! And if you haven’t do not tell me.)

Of course we all got our shots, it’ll help prevent the flu, and I’m sure I did fine given the choices.But in the moment every option just sucked.

There seem like a lot of these situations I’m running into with the kids—no really appealing choice in a situation. How do you dress a daughter in a culture so sexualized and materialist? How much (if any) media and gaming do you let them see? (I’m not willing to do full Amish, as it could really weaken the kids’ ability to relate to their peers. But I’m sure they’ll feel deprived and out of the loop compared to kids who already have iPads before Kindergarten.)

This brings us to Halloween. Jay has put his foot down about The Candy Witch. He’s absolutely not having it.

In case you’ve not heard of this witch (sometimes called the Great Pumpkin), it’s a Halloween deity who trades excess candy for money or toys, like the tooth fairy or Santa and the cookies. Your kid picks out 5 or 10 pieces of candy from Trick or Treat they want the most, and the rest they offer up to the gods in exchange for a prize.

Have you ever noticed that just because your partner sits through a proposed idea presented by your adoption therapist quietly, without comment, it doesn’t mean he’s going to go along with it? I was really getting into this idea—sugar’s a huge problem with our kids. Why not a new deity? We even know one other couple who does this with their son. And I don’t want to repeat my own childhood—I remember being literally sick at Easter because I was allowed to have as much of my Easter Basket as I wanted. That can’t be good.

So I thought we were in agreement, but no. “I’ve never even heard of the candy witch,” Jay said when I brought it up again. “I mean, who does that?”

So I’m stuck, again, in the middle. We’ll let them have more candy than they should. We’ll ration it out and they’ll have less than they want.

How I wish my mom were here to weigh in on the Candy Witch. She’d laugh at the idea I’m sure. But I also suspect she’d know what I’m talking about. Appealing, ideological purity keeps evading my grasp, leaving me with reality.

I suspect it’s always felt like that.