Saturday, January 16, 2016

Big kids still say boo

I’m not exactly sure when it all happened, but it seems to me that nowadays it’s perfectly fine, if not preferred, to let your kids grow up way too fast.  They have cell phones in elementary school, wear clothes beyond their years, watch mature humor television shows, and are expected to have the responsibility of adulthood-- something which I myself have not yet accomplished.
But then there are times when they are given the opportunity to embrace their age, or at the very least attempt to hang on to the good years before being forced to grow up.  These are the times of childhood memories.  It’s Christmas morning and Easter candy, summer sprinklers, fall leaf piles, tire swings, and of course, Halloween trick or treating.
The fine art of dressing up and collecting candy from your neighbors is an honored tradition with good intentions and unfortunate results.  As parents, we take even our tiniest children out trick or treating and have them hold out a plastic pumpkin to gather goodies that they either can’t eat because of lack of teeth or choking hazards.  (So glad I was able to help with those!)  As the children get older, they hold out that pumpkin and only are allowed to consume a small portion of what they collect because eating that amount of sugar would send them buzzing across the county.  Even as they are a little older, they form their mountain of collected candy but are forced to eat in moderation because we all know what happens when you’ve got nothing but chocolate and gummy candy in your tummy.
But by the time their bodies are large enough to process that sugar and they’re smart enough not to eat the whole pile in one evening or choke on a piece of taffy, they are “too big” to go trick or treating. 
Where have we gone wrong?
I admit, if I see a teenager who has put no effort into a costume, I’m less likely to be nice to him or her.  But if I see a group of teens fully dressed and enjoying a slice of childhood, I tend to smile.  Toss in a polite “thank you” and I might toss an extra piece of candy your way.  I do it out of respect for the simple pleasures in life and the making of memories.  If I could, for just a bit, slip back into my Robin Hood costume and meet my friends and tip toe around the neighborhood, forever fearful of the creepy house with the family that overly decorated for Halloween but gave out big candy bars, I’d most certainly welcome that chance.

This year I’m going to think about that as I watch the trick or treaters, of all sizes, go marching by in search of bite-sized candy and hanging on to their youth if even for just a night.  Chances are they’ll need that sugar to tackle their homework, or leaf raking, or bill paying.

Originally written/published 10/27/14

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