I have this funny habit of questioning stuff. I’ve found it a useful thing to do, but it has, admittedly, earned me an eye roll or three over the years, particularly from certain members of my family. More than a couple times I have been told to lighten up.
From time to time I have questioned aloud on this blog, but more often than not I keep the stuff I post on here to winsome parenting stories and other utter ridiculousness, with some attempts at creative thought chucked in. Sometimes the questions become too loud and I need to exorcise the demons by subjecting them to others. That’s where you come in.
Well, ‘tis the season for one of my ponderings to stick in my frontal cortex and I need to go ahead and let this one out. This isn’t to cast judgment, mind you thoughtful reader, but instead to maybe inspire further thought. I’m sure to inspire some contempt – and I’m ok with that – but I’m shooting for thought.
Here’s the thing – what the hell is with trick or treating?
Let me start by saying this very clearly in preemptive response to the pillow case full of fun size comments that will inevitably say I’m a killjoy or commie or hater or Scientologist – I GET IT. I get that Halloween is just supposed to be a good time. I get that being a kid is supposed to be fun. I get the importance of creating happy memories without getting too balled up about making good choices. And I get that parents get fired up about jacking half of their kids’ candy.
I get fun.
I trick or treated when I was a kid. I dressed up. I begged for candy. And, yes, I loved it AND turned out relatively normal.
Also, I must be clear that I’m not calling out the whole of Halloween – just this trick or treating business.
This isn’t to throw my wet blanket statement out there that all trick or treating is bad and no one should do it. Though, the argument that kids should do it because it’s fun is ridiculous. I bet stringing two Slip ‘N’ Slides together and attaching one end to the roof of a two-story house would be pretty fun, too.
But when you break down this time-honored tradition, it just seems so damn odd.
Consider, kids dress up in costumes once a year and rove through their neighborhood, going door to door and demanding candy. Should the demands not be met, a “trick” is to be expected.
So, our impressionable youth are given the green light to disguise themselves and hold the neighborhood hostage for candy under the threat of vandalism.
What the hell?
Granted, that may be a bit hyperbolic and overly dramatic, but isn’t that essentially the story?
A byproduct of this whole parenting thing for me has been a nagging habit of considering what I am teaching my children in pretty much every situation. It has led me to (over)analyze a great many things that I have never before given a second thought to.
Like stupid ass trick or treating, for example.
If you, kind reader, will stop rolling your eyes for just a moment, allow me to explain. While I think this is funny, I also think it’s important.
My issues with trick or treating can all be found in a simple description thereof:
Trick or treating is going door to door demanding candy from strangers.
That is an accurate statement, no? Now, my points of contention:
First point of contention – going door to door DEMANDING candy from strangers. I spend at least 37 hours every day trying to teach my children to be polite, to be considerate, and to always, always, ALWAYS say “please”. Trick or treating includes none of those things. I don’t know about you, but my kids are not terribly adept at context or nuance yet and I’m not sure what message is sent when bold entitlement is not only acceptable, but celebrated on this one night. Have you experienced the slightly older kid getting a little pushy and a lot rude when they showed up with their open candy bag at your door? Yeah, me neither.
Second point of contention – going door to door demanding CANDY from strangers. When my wife and I aren’t trying to instill courtesy and manners, we are trying to teach our kids about nutrition and how to take care of their bodies. Food is fundamental. Candy is friggin’ poison. You know what day is most teachers’ least favorite day of the year? The day after Halloween. You know why? Yeah, me too.
It’s only once a year, you say? I don’t buy that. When we teach our kids something is ok even once, it then becomes ok. Again, kids aren’t good at nuance.
Third point of contention – going door to door demanding candy from STRANGERS. When I went trick or treating we were only allowed to keep things that were in unopened wrappers. Why? Because there was a valid concern that the wonderful neighbor who smiled at your ninja princess costume and happily bestowed a “treat” into your pillow case may have sunk a razor blade into that apple or pumped arsenic and whale semen into those raisins. Well, that’s comforting. Yes, Bobby, you can have that Snicker’s bar and remember to say ‘thank you’, but don’t linger too long or you might get poisoned or raped.
I might feel different about the knocking on all the neighbors’ doors if I thought that everyone had pure, kind intentions, but I’m not an idiot. And there is a convicted sex offender that lives just down the street from me. I wonder what he’s got for the kids this year?
So, those are my thoughts. I’m not trying to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t do – I have a hard enough time making my own decisions. My hope is that decisions are made based on thought and reason, not just tradition.
I would love to hear other opinions of trick or treating. Agree or disagree, I would love to hear why and what you do differently.
If you just want me to shut up, I get that, too. Luckily for you, my kids will only be of trick or treating age for a few more years and I can start getting all pent up about other stuff like why all costumes for women are the slutty version of whatever they have decided to be. Like this slutty body bag, for example.
Happy Halloween, y’all.