Trick-or-treating teens: you’re welcome at my house

trick-or-treating, families, teenagers, teens, costumes

My trick-or-treaters, Halloween 2010. The werewolf and evil jester are my big boys.

Time for my yearly republish of this post, which always seems to touch a nerve! Enjoy, and as Halloween approaches, let’s try to celebrate the kid in all of us.

One of the things that most pains my Halloween-loving heart is the opposition some older trick-or-treaters face. Maybe I’m just remembering the Halloweens of my childhood through pumpkin-colored lenses, but it seemed like there was more tolerance for trick-or-treaters of all ages when I was a kid.

It’s true, some older kids don’t really get into the spirit of Halloween—instead of donning costumes, some teenagers simply wear a smirk, a bag, and a sense of entitlement.

But I don’t really get the outright hostility that some adults have toward older kids who just want to dress up and have some fun. “They’re too old for that!” cry the naysayers. Too old for what? Dressing outrageously, wandering around town at night, and eating junk food? Isn’t that what being a teenager is all about?

My 13- and almost-15-year-old sons trick-or-treated last year. Their costumes were well-thought-out, and their gratitude for your hard-earned candy was far more heartfelt than my three-year-old’s. But at their ages, many parents start putting the nix on the treats and the tricks. If my son still wants to trick-or-treat this year, will his friends be allowed to go with him…or will he have to hit the sidewalks alone, in a world where many keepers of the candy will judge him not on the volume of his Halloween spirit, but the size of his shoes?

I feel for the teenaged would-be trick-or-treaters. By this point, most of them have given up on the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, and Halloween is one of the last vestiges of childhood magic they’ve got left.

And it’s not like we grown-ups can claim we don’t long for Halloween fun, too. Adults still dress up, but we eat too much junk food and act like children at cocktail parties instead of going from door to door. We don’t want our teenaged kids throwing cocktail parties, so why not let—or even encourage—them to trick-or-treat?

Nobody wants to dole out candy to sullen trick-or-treating teens who look like they couldn’t be bothered to dress up. I get it. But let’s just consider for a moment that the kid who shows up on your door with no costume might just be longing for a bit of that Halloween magic. Maybe he can’t quite bring himself to wear a costume in front of his friends. Maybe he’s just a brat. I don’t really care, frankly. I mean, the kids are asking me for a piece of candy, not a piece of my liver. What’s the big deal?

I’m hereby issuing an invitation: my house will be an equal-opportunity candy distributor this Halloween. If you show up at my door, you will get a treat, whether you’re two or twenty-two. Just a warning, though: no matter how old (or young) you are, I expect you to be nice to me.

Otherwise, I’ve got a special stash of pennies and unwrapped Mary Janes, just for you.

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