It’s that time of year again, and some things haven’t changed since I was Virginia’s age—pumpkin carving, kids in costumes, “fun-size” candy. Of course, Halloween also brings with it pranks, rude behavior, trick-or-treating teenagers in minimal or no costume, doorbells that keep ringing after 10 PM. I know, I know, I’m starting to sound like a “get off my lawn” crank. But, I feel that Halloween was intended to be reserved for the three- to twelve-year-old set (the begging for candy part, not the dressing in costume part). Am I wrong?
As Virginia gets older, I’ve started to wonder when Halloween will change for her. I sense her trick-or-treating days are numbered, but I really don’t know when I need to cut it off and throw out her pink, plastic pumpkin bucket. My parents forced the switch on my siblings and me during sixth grade. Eleven, my parents decided, was the official time when you age out of trick-or-treating. And I’m guessing they arrived at that decision from years of experience, handing out treats to kids of all stripes. Eleven is right about the time when your sweet kid turns into your obnoxious adolescent. I now know from my own experience that handing out candy to obnoxious adolescents in an Elmo t-shirt asking you to “smell my feet” is far less fun than handing out candy to a four-year-old dressed as a pumped-up superhero and actively practicing his “pleases” and “thank yous.”
This is why I have now left the job of candy distribution up to my husband. Instead, I join my daughter and her friends as they romp through the neighborhood dressed as Pokémon characters or police officers or deranged, incompetent doctors (VA’s costume choice for this year). They are not rude or disrespectful, but they are kids who will soon be too old for tricks or treats. In one optimistic vision, I imagine Virginia herself dismissing trick-or-treating as babyish, and instead opting to attend Halloween parties at friends’ houses, or maybe even joining Josh on our porch to pass out candy to costumed children. I doubt it, though. In a year, maybe two, I’m going to have to give her nudge. She can’t be trick-or-treating as a teenager, no matter how nice and polite she might be, or how clever her costume. I will not have that. The kids today pushed in strollers and toddling unsteadily, clutching their parent’s finger will soon become the next wave of costumed kids, trick-or-treating in excited, sugared-up packs. As much as I’d like for Virginia to stay a kid forever, she’s not, and nowhere is that more apparent than Halloween.