The Trick or Treat Predicament

Here’s how it happens every year:
Once October hits, I start getting really excited about Halloween. Pumpkin patches, haunted houses, scary movies on TV, corn mazes, trick-or-treating. I want to do it all. I want to make Halloween costumes from scratch and have them turn out like Pinterest wins this year, not Pinterest fails. I want to make ghost cookies out of meringue and I want to read (mildly) scary stories to our toddler and I want to decorate our front windows to attract all the neighborhood trick-or-treaters.Then before I know it, it’s October 20 and I’m running out of time. You’d think with a solid 31 days to prepare for Halloween, I could get it together. But what I have currently is: one pumpkin buried somewhere under the detritus on the kitchen table, two spider gel clings stuck on the window (the toddler pulled down the rest of them), and a store-bought costume borrowed from a friend “just in case” I didn’t manage to lovingly hand-craft a costume this year.

And it all ends up coming down to the trick-or-treating: the last possible opportunity to engage in Halloween-themed activities (besides purchasing Halloween candy at a discount on November 1). Have you ever taken a three-year-old trick-or-treating? I haven’t. Yet. I don’t expect it to be the smoothest transaction…yet it’s a transaction we’ll have to go through over and over again at different strangers’ doors. I don’t even know how you tell which houses are accepting of trick-or-treaters. I haven’t trick-or-treated in over two decades, and even then it felt a little awkward…like, “I know you don’t owe me anything, but please give me a Kit-Kat just because I rang your doorbell.” Will these strangers think that I’m just bringing my kid around in order to get candy for myself?

I’m no better on the other side of the operation. I get so excited every year to see little kids in costume. We buy candy. I try to find a spooky bowl to put it into. For two seconds, I seriously consider putting on some form of a costume myself – it seems like moms passing out candy are usually dressed as witches. I could do that, I think. Then someone knocks on the door and I go into panic mode.

What if they’re a robber using Halloween as an excuse to get in to our home? What if they’re a huge group of little kids, and I have to figure out how to give them all equal amounts of candy? Am I supposed to give them one piece each, or like four pieces each? What if it’s a handful of those kids who are just slightly too old to be trick-or-treating, and they didn’t even put on a costume, just smeared green paint on their face and put a garbage bag on over their clothes? That actually happened last year. Can I refuse someone candy if they’re old enough to legally have a job? Two years ago, a little girl bolted from her mom into our house, and I had to grab her (gingerly) and return her to the doorstep. This is all too much for me.

Growing up, we didn’t get trick-or-treaters. We were way out of the city, so we would always go to a friend’s house to do the ritualistic rounds to get free candy, returning late at night (or maybe not at all, depending on the day of the week). So literally my first time handing out candy was five years ago. I just don’t have the life experience to take on this kind of responsibility.

This year will probably be the same. I’ll end up freaking out and turning off the lights and pretending we’re not home. Then I’ll eat a spooky bowlful of Kit-Kats while watching Hocus Pocus on ABC Family.

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