Halloween Should Be Child’s Play

By Jason Menard

Apparently, without knowing it, I dressed up last night for Hallowe’en. My costume? A curmudgeon.

It didn’t start out that way. In fact, I inadvertently dressed up as something else Sunday evening – a popsicle. And apparently the cold had an impact on the trick or treaters, or lack thereof, on the evening.

As we were accompanying our eight-year-old daughter through the streets on her mad candy grab (she was determined to hit as many houses as possible), we noticed a marked lack of younger children on the streets. Only a handful of babies, a few toddlers, fewer still children my daughter’s age, and a smattering of pre-teens braved the sub-freezing temperatures.

But there was one group that seemed to be out in full force – the teenagers.

I’m not yet at the stage where I’m chasing kids off my lawn from the comfort of my rocking chair on the porch. Actually, I think teens in general get an undeserved bad reputation – I always have.

Maybe it’s because growing up as a teen I had a social conscience. As soon as I was able to vote, I did – and so too did the majority of my friends and acquaintances. It bothered me when I heard people who should know better blame the problems of the world on ‘youth,’ saying that we didn’t care.

I knew better – and I’d like to think that most teenagers are good people. Like us, they’re just trying to figure out their way in the world with the added burden of being all-knowing and all-seeing. The archaic knowledge of their parents holds no value for them, and the wisdom that comes with age won’t be appreciated until they’ve crossed a certain age-related threshold.

All of this just to establish that I don’t dislike teenagers in general. But when it comes to Hallowe’en, I think it’s time for them to grow up.

Hallowe’en is for young children, first and foremost. It’s a holiday that’s completely and utterly dedicated to the free spirit of youth. Dress up; get candy. That’s it.

While adults fret about how they look and actually undermine their own enjoyment of the event by thinking they look worse than they do, our children’s imagination lets them become the character they’re portraying. For that night, they are witches, wizards, superheroes, or ghouls. And kids don’t sabotage their enjoyment by worrying about sugar content or calories!

The teens? Seems that most of them dressed up as hanging-on-too-long losers carrying a pillow sack.

Factor in the group mentality that they engage in – you know, where in packs of three or more they become oblivious to everything and every one around them – and it can actually serve to diminish the enjoyment that the younger kids have. As they were racing around, swearing at each other, pushing and shoving, they completely ignored the little ones that were in danger of being trampled underfoot.

The kids who should be enjoying this night to its fullest were intimidated and frightened by the stupefying combination of testosterone, greed, and lack of imagination.

Kids, it’s time to grow up. Once you hit a certain age, do what your parents do – go to a party, get dressed up, and act stupid with people your own age. Leave the trick or treating to the young ones for whom it’s intended. You had your day, now it’s time to move on. After all, most of you are clamouring to be treated like adults – here’s a chance to start acting like one.

In the end, maybe the curmudgeon wasn’t a costume so much as who I now am. But if being curmudgeonly is what it takes to believe that Hallowe’en should be about children it’s a mask I’m more than willing to wear.

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