Five years ago I put my son in glow-in-the-dark skeleton PJs and smiled at him. He had just become a master of sitting without assistance, and I was beyond proud. I took a photo of him and shared it with my friends under the guise of Halloween adorableness, but what I was really proclaiming was some Halloween parenting, “LOOK WHAT I DID!!!”
To be honest, Halloween continues to feel like the ultimate once-a-year show and tell of parenting.
What our kids wear probably doesn’t have a thing to do with you, unless you let little Sally or Sam walk door to door in something that shocks and awes. Too scary? Too racy? Too messy? Why on earth would your kid know about that show on cable — OMG DO YOU LET YOUR KID WATCH THAT SHOW?!!
But the perfect costume feels like a gold star for everyone. We did it, team!
What you pass out on Halloween will be talked about. You know this. Do not mess this up. You don’t want to be known as the raisin house or the Sixlet house. Find your groove and own your style.
Truly the test of our parenting happens as we wait at the end of the sidewalk and send our brave Elsas and Spidermen towards the door of someone we probably don’t know. We watch as they ring the doorbell and we hold our breath. Will our children be kind, capable of appropriate banter, and appreciative of treats? Or will they forget what to say, blurt out something about how much Mommy can’t stand how the neighbor parks, grab double fistfulls of candy, and flee the scene without so much as a thank you? It can go either way.
If our kids are still on the young side, we can call out a helpful line prompt of, “Say ‘Trick or Treat,’” but if our kids are older, it is sacrosanct to communicate at this point.
We pray to the patron saint of Kit Kat bars and Almond Joys that our little guys won’t stray from the script, but we all prepare ourselves for the inevitable over-sharing that happens door to door.
Our kids have to possibly have charming banter with a person who a) might be a stranger, b) might be dressed up, and c) might be cooking an aromatic supper. There are so many things that can go wrong here! Kids are notorious blurters and say the darndest things. One time I was grocery shopping with my son and he recognized someone from his camp. He turned and loudly asked me, “Hey Mama! Is that the Mommy you don’t like?” As far as I know, I like all moms on the route we will be taking this Halloween, but what if my son needs to double check? It could happen. Trust me. It really could.
Sometimes our kids will be asked a question, “… and who are you supposed to be?”
I can get how this might be offensive to some kids, because, people, come ON! Isn’t it obvious?! But this is Halloween parenting banter 101 and there is about an 86 percent chance someone will look at your mad scientist and coo, “Are you a doctor?” This is a game grown-ups do. It’s ridiculous, but it happens. The best thing you can do to help everyone win here is PREPARE and drill. Announce in advance what your child will be — especially if it’s not mainstream. (Nice work on a non-mainstream costume, by the way!) If you’re enjoying the night out with several families, tell everyone there what your child is so he or she has a chorus of backup should the question arise out on the candy streets.
Next they have to pass the actual candy test. This is such a brutal test for young kids and a true “hold your breath” moment for some parents. Sometimes candy is selected for our kids and placed into their buckets or bags. Sometimes our kids are not fans of the candy that has been selected for them. Sometimes our kids are presented with a large bowl filled to the brim with candy and told, “Pick ONE.” Or worse, “Help yourself!” Have you ever watched a small child quiver with the pressure to pick their own candy? It’s torture. Heck, I can’t always be trusted to just pick one candy from a jar of treats. Be a friend: If you’re in charge of passing out treats, watch for candy panic and jump in with a Skittles rescue if you can.
After the candy challenge comes the ultimate and true test. This is where you win or lose as a parent. It’s all hinging on the moment right after the OMG CANDY exhilaration situation. It’s a nail biter. It can go either way, it usually does.
Did they say, “Thank you”?
OMG — did they? SO many kids, I can’t hear. You need to establish your cred on the street and you need to do it fast. Before your kids clear the sidewalk you give a firm reminder, “Did you say thank you?!!! SAY THANK YOU!”
The world pauses as a fireman, a robot, a minion, and a cowgirl all pivot and in perfect harmony sing, “Thank youuuuuu!”
Then we move on to the next house and start all over again.
Halloween night is like the Saturday my mom spent six hours making me parallel park the car. Practice, practice, practice.
Photo courtesy of Dresden ShumakerMore On