The Travails of Trick-or Treating

Halloween is my favorite candy-related holiday, edging out Valentine’s Day and Easter. Collecting candy with my kids is such fun – I can actually score candy as a 36-year-old woman dressed up as “Tired Mom”.

Last year, my daughter Molly was Princess Rainbow Sparkle (her own creation). “I’m ready for trick-or-treating!” she said, sashaying into the living room. A trail of glitter wafted off her costume as she twirled happily.

“We’ve got to wait until after dinner,” I replied, smiling.

“When’s that?” she asked.

“Well, it’s nine in the morning, soooooo it’ll be a while.”

““Hnngggghhhh,” Molly groaned, flopping dramatically onto the once glitter-free couch. “Can you make the day go faster?”

Don’t I wish. We were just a few hours away from FREE CANDY, and the anticipation was killing us both. Is there anything better than staying up late, collecting pillowcases full of choco-pops and gummy worms? It’s a kid’s dream come true! Remember how exciting it was when someone gave you a full-sized candy bar while trick-or-treating? Angels would sing and the clouds would part as you ran back to your parents screaming “they gave me a full-sized chocolate bar!” The news would spread like wildfire around the other kid-sized ghosts and witches. Everyone remembers that house, the one with generous people in it.

Despite Molly’s whining (and mine), we had to wait for hours before we could start knocking on doors. Our neighbors would be irritated if we showed up during their morning coffee. The day passed agonizingly slowly. Molly alternated between staring out the window, stomping around the living room, and asking what the time was every three minutes. My toddler, Andy, not quite understanding trick-or-treating, wandered around collecting pillowcases and filling them with Lego. By dinner time, Molly’s costume was wilted, and Andy had stuffed the pillowcases down the heat vents.

Molly was vibrating with excitement, jumping and screaming “let’s go! Let’s go!” Andy started crying when I put his fireman helmet on him (the one he happily wore yesterday), so I gave him a stuffed puppy and his costume became “Puppy Man”. I figured that would garner him, and possibly me, some pity candy. Finally, it was time! Parkas were crammed under costumes, winter boots were jammed onto feet, and this family of four set off to claim our spoils.

Twenty-three minutes. That’s how long it took before the whining started. That’s twelve minutes longer than last Halloween, so my kids are improving. After visiting seven houses, Molly complained that it was too cold, and Andy was more interested in a spider he found. This couldn’t be happening! I had waited all year for this day! I mean, the kids had waited all year for this day! I wasn’t giving up so easily. Leaving the kids with my husband, Jeremy, I dashed back to the house and returned with this year’s saving grace: our big, two-seater kids’ wagon.

“Here’s your princess carriage!” I cried. “Now you can ride like royalty!”

“Yaayyy, princess carriage!” Molly yelled. She and Andy scrambled into the wagon, and we rolled off towards more candy. The kids were having a great time, and Mommy the packhorse plowed on, wheeling them up and down the hilliest neighborhood ever built.

My arms got tired at house number 246, so we called it a night. Back at home, the kids joyfully dumped their candy hauls on the floor, and I heard their pupils dilate. There were Twizzlers, Mars bars, potato chips, cookie bags, jawbreakers, and a pair of full-sized Oh Henry bars.

“Okay, you guys can have two each and then –” a screeching, two-kid tornado drowned me out, as wrappers and empty chip bags whipped past me with alarming speed. I didn’t even see any chewing; chocolates and gummies were swallowed whole. I backed away slowly, ready to perform the Heimlich maneuver. The next hour was spent coaxing Andy down from the ceiling fan and chasing Molly out of the toolshed.

Somehow, Jeremy and I got some of their teeth brushed and wrangled the kids into bed. Recovering on the couch, we started our parental service: saving our children from the perils of sugar. As we munched on Snickers and candy corn, we congratulated ourselves on how responsible we were. These Skittles had too many artificial colors, so we confiscated them. This bag of potato chips had too many carbs, so we sacrificed ourselves. All in all, we saved our kids from twelve mini chocolate bars, two bags of chips, and four boxes of Smarties. We did, of course, save the full-sized chocolate bars for the kids (those would be easily missed).

No matter your age, Halloween is fun to celebrate. It’s a joy to see my kids so excited, and the whole family has fun. Buying candy for yourself will never be as thrilling as getting it for free. Even when the “good” candy runs out, and you’re stuck eating those weird fruity caramels wrapped in wax paper, you’ll still eat them because, darn it, you earned them. Halloween is definitely an event for the kids, and the kids at heart!