You kids don’t know how good you have it!
Don’t forget that trick-or-treating is about much more than your mad dash to tooth decay. Oh, so much more. It is about the full-throttle anticipatory high you get during those few seconds after you ring the doorbell and before it opens.
It’s the wish fulfillment of dressing up as the person you are in your dreams. It’s the scratch in the back of your throat from throwing your indoor voice out the window and screaming those three magic words. It’s the adrenaline rush from running door to door as quickly as your little legs will take you — racing the clock, knowing that all too soon this night of vices and magic and costumes and sugar and smiles will be over.
But what you don’t realize, little ones, is that this joy will soon be over for the rest of your life. Halloween no longer holds the promise of trick-or-treating when you’re an adult.
For the past decade I’ve stayed home and tried to keep the magic alive by handing out candy to the trick-or-treaters. I’ve become like the old high-school quarterback who lives with his parents, researching hair loss remedies by day and attending the high-school football practice by night.
We’re not fooling anyone.
Through these rough years, there was one thing that left some glimmer of hope: parenthood. I just needed to become a parent.
For years, I begged my friends with children to let me kidnap their kids. I promised to return them unharmed and only slightly manic from M&M consumption. But it was always a no-go.
A couple of Halloweens ago, a young girl, who couldn’t have been older than 5, came to my door unescorted. Desperate to go trick-or-treating, I asked her whether she wanted an adult to walk around with her. She yelled “no” and ran to the next house. I’d hit a new low. I’d become stranger-danger.
Parenthood promised to bring a lot of growth to my life, but one of the things I was most eager to experience was a total regression on Halloween — to once again be given permission to run from door to door, yell “trick or treat” and stock up on candy.
So, after more than a decade of longing, I dressed my 11-week-old son as a monster and hit the lawn running. Well, walking. Slowly. To be honest, playing the parent card on Halloween night wasn’t all I had dreamed it would be.
This new style of trick-or-treating came new joys, too. Neighbors I never had spoken with welcomed me into Club Parent. I socialized around front-yard fire pits and was handed paper cups of wine as I walked through haunted driveways.
And I genuinely felt a nostalgic pleasure in watching children enjoy the night as I once had. And then, of course, there is still the candy.
I’m sure my son wanted me to take all those Twix bars.
I did it for him.