I read this article yesterday, about some communities setting a maximum age for Trick-or-Treating. This is the sentence that caught me:
Mayor Mark Eckert led the push for a high school trick-or-treating ban in 2008 because constituents — primarily single mothers and senior citizens — were frightened by larger teens showing up at their homes on Halloween.
This is my mom. It might be someone you know, too, but who has not spoken up about how intimidating it is to be elderly, living alone, with teenagers knocking well after dark, being incredibly aware of how vulnerable you are.
In my mom’s neighborhood, it is not unusual for teenaged “Trick-or-Treaters” to ring her bell after 9:00pm, cigarettes in hand, not a costume in sight. No matter how appropriate you think it is for teens to participate in an childhood tradition, that’s not. If you are old enough to smoke, you are too old for free candy.
None of your teens would do that; nor would mine. They are decent non-smoking kids who would wear a costume and remember to say thank you. Yet they are still bigger than my mom, and look scarier traveling in a rowdy pack, even if the rowdiness is just happiness spilling over.
I am not telling you to keep your big kids home. (Although, I’m not opposed to that, either.)
I am asking you, if you have elderly relatives or neighbors, to stop by after the little children are done for the night. Maybe invite them over, or just ask, “Are you okay tonight?” Obviously, don’t incite fear if it’s not there, but don’t ignore it if it is.
If you are not near enough to be there physically, call them on the phone. Ask if they’ve had many visitors. Ask what they thought of the costumes. Let them know they are not alone.
I’m also asking that you remind your older children that being extra-polite makes a big difference. Walking on the sidewalk rather than trampling through a garden says, “I respect you and your property. I’m not a hooligan.” Letting smaller children have the right of way says, “A piece of candy is not worth trampling a toddler. I’m a nice, goofy kid.”
Mostly, remind them that this is a holiday for children. Children go to bed early. Trick-or-treating should not last all night; when the families are done for the night, then it is over. Invite them back to your house for pizza and a scary movie (or a not-scary movie) if they (and you) want the fun to continue.
On behalf of my mom, and others like her, thank you, and enjoy the candy!
I would not usually ask this, but please share or tweet this or even just mention to your friends that this would be a good time to reach out to your elderly (or single lady) neighbors, who may not enjoy this night as much as your children do. Thank you!