Friday, November 2, 2012

Dear Treaters and Tricksters

Halloween is, like most holidays, focused on children, but guided by adults. The adults make the rules:
• “Don’t run. Look both ways before crossing the street. Be sure to say, ‘Thank you.’”
• “You’re not going out Trick ‘r Treating until you finish your liver and stewed tomatoes.”
• “Roman gladiators also had to wear boots when it was raining.”
• “You can’t bring you’re dad’s loaded shotgun as part of your costume.”
• “You have to be able to see.”

Most adults, although their own childhood memories fade or change as they age, want children to have fun, but their first concern is safety. This is altogether reasonable—after all, they are adults. Children, on the other hand, see things quite differently, and are much more concerned about adventure. It is the child’s responsibility to creatively extract the maximum amount of fun within the adult-set parameters.

Sometimes children just forget the rules, as children are wont to do, such as excitedly running across the street without looking. This is when luck plays a major role in the child’s future growth. More often, however, the child considers the rules, the consequences and benefits of sidestepping them, and makes his or her best choice. This is particularly true for Halloween because practically all choices are out of sight of the parent—or at least until parents started accompanying kids house to house.

On orange and black plastic shopping bags distributed by my local Shop and Save supermarket around Halloween time are “Halloween Safety Tips”. They are reasonable, adult produced principles.

Avoid trick-or-treating after dark. Choose well-lighted familiar streets for your trick-or-treat route.
My child view was the exact opposite. We did not like to go out until dark. What at night is scenic (and scary), may seem cynic (and stupid) by the day. Halloween is all about dusk, dark, and shady. About street lights we had no control. We would go whatever route afforded the most candy per travel time.

Never trick-or-treat alone. Go in a group and share the fun!
The only objectionable part here is the ‘never’. Sure, it generally was more fun to go in groups, but, for whatever reason, it was not unusual to end up alone. This was not a bad thing, and, indeed, being alone at night, ringing strange people’s doorbells, being attacked by strange dogs, helped us grow up a bit. We are all better cold-call salesmen for it.

Wear light covered costumes or decorate your costume with reflective tape so drivers can see you.
A reasonable adult suggestion, but, really, something we never thought about. Didn’t reflective tape develop out of the U.S. space program? Anyway, how does reflective tape harmonize with the fashion statement of the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh?

Wait until you get home before eating your treats and candy.
They may as well have written, “Wait until you get home so you can share your candy with your brothers and sisters.” Strangely, more often than not, this was the one dictum I followed. I’m not sure why, unless I felt that eating candy was wasting valuable time that could be spent gathering more.

That's it from the supermarket regulators. Well, kids, you’re in an adult-run world, despite what your parents think, do the best you can. And good luck.

1 comment:

Big Myk said...

I was hoping that you might use your voice recognition software and post Pete's most excellent 2012 Halloween letter. And yes, Pete's Scarecrow of Romney Marsh was the height of Halloween costume achievment.