5 Things I Need to Teach my Child About Halloween
Halloween is my favorite holiday. Part of it is because it happens during my favorite season. Fall weather is beautiful here in Missouri, and I love the changing leaves, visits to the pumpkin patch and corn maze, and the smell of delicious soups in the crock pot. Although I’m a bit of a scaredy cat, I also like the thrill of cozying up with a scary movie and bowl of popcorn. I think it’s the effortlessness of Halloween that is so appealing to me. Of course, some people get very into their costumes and decorations, but there’s no pressure. You want to spend hundreds of dollars and hours on special effects makeup and hand-sewn costumes for your family? Awesome! You want to throw on a pair of cat ears and draw on some whiskers with eyeliner as you walk out the door? More power to you! Notwithstanding its historical context, Halloween today is all about having fun and coming together as a community to celebrate children.
I think we can all get behind that.
Lillian is only going to be 16 months old this Halloween, but we still plan to take her trick-or-treating. The fun of being a parent of itty bitties during Halloween is seeing how adorable they look in their costumes and eating all their candy. It’s also a good opportunity to teach children about the traditions and expectations of celebrating Halloween in your neighborhood and community. How confusing must it be for little ones to understand that the rules completely change on Halloween night?
You must go to bed by 8 pm… except on Halloween!
No candy after dinner… except on Halloween!
Never take food from a stranger… except on Halloween!
As any parent of a toddler knows, changes in routine can be grounds for a complete and total meltdown. But when you think about it, who can blame them? Society has all sorts of unspoken rules and exceptions to those rules that little ones just can’t know until they’re explained. Even though I don’t expect Lillian to understand all this yet, there are a few things I need to teach my child about how to behave on Halloween.
1. Say “Trick-or-Treat” and “Thank You”
Let’s be real. Lillian’s not going to be able to say either of those things this year. Some children can’t or won’t say these words for various legitimate reasons. Perhaps they’re nonverbal. Perhaps they’re developmentally delayed, or just incredibly shy. I get it. But if a child is able to say “Trick-or-Treat” and “Thank You” on Halloween, it is a nice way to show appreciation that strangers bought them candy.
2. Don’t Complain about the Candy
This won’t really be an issue until she gets older and learns that Reeses pumpkins are the holy grail of Halloween candy, but it needs to be said. Know how I know? Last year I lovingly placed some delicious Skittles in a little girl’s bucket and she dug them out, threw them back in my bowl, and informed me that she hated Skittles. She better hope she’s wearing a mask if she comes trick-or-treating to my door again this Halloween.
3. Use the Sidewalk
I’m not particularly concerned about how my grass looks, but some of our neighbors take great pride in their landscaping. Out of respect for their property, I expect my child not to run through yards as a shortcut to the next house. Also, she might trip over something in the dark. Also, she might get dog poop on her shoe.
4. Don’t Enter a Stranger’s Home
We teach our children not to go door to door when selling fundraising items for their school. We teach our children never to take food from a stranger. These rules go out the window on Halloween night, so maybe it’s not so farfetched to assume that children might not know they shouldn’t go inside someone’s home. Invited or otherwise. (Yes, I walked around the corner to discover a strange child exploring my living room last year).
5. Lights Off = No Candy
So don’t ring the doorbell which makes the dog bark which wakes the newborn that just went to sleep after 2 straight hours of crying. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.
The older she gets the more fun we have sharing holidays with Lillian. I’m excited to show off her costume to the neighbors and I can’t wait to see her reaction to the other neighborhood kids when they come to our door. Maybe I’ll get the Reeses this year to keep everyone happy…