Tuesday, October 31, 2006

These are of course the boys, and they are of course wearing their Halloween costumes. The Boy is a darling little cat. He was especially cute telling people "trick or treat" and "thank you" with a quick "meow."

Big Brother is the grim reaper. He looked like the reaper in person, but this picture gives him a bit of the Emperor Palpatine showing us the happy side of the dark side.

Hallowe'en etiquette

This isn't a new irritant for me. It is certainly a seasonal irritation manifest each year on Halloween night when all the darling ghouls and monsters roam the streets in search of candy. I know that in some cases, the kids might get a little crazy, perhaps making a run on the jumbo size package of toilet paper for use in decorating a favored teacher's house. My rant has nothing to do with those generally expected hauntings, those kids acting out as the character they've chosen to dress up as, the over indulgence in sugar for the night and into the next week. No, my ire is aimed at a particular type of parent.

Part of trick or treating, in my humble opinion, is the walk. Trick or treating, whether in your own neighborhood or in a more candy conscious neighborhood, is an active affair. I won't deride those people who choose to trick or treat outside of their close streets. The street we live on is fairly empty and involves quite a walk to the nearest candy giving homes as there aren't a lot of young kids or even young parents. I also don't include our more rural friends for whom a nice walk door to door is nearly impossible.

In my opinion, it is not acceptable to drive your children door to door to trick or treat.

I'd love to think that this is not something that happens across the country. I'd love to believe that only a few people down here in the south really think it's okay to drive house to house to trick or treat. I wonder perhaps if these asses are just trying to hit more neighborhoods so that they can get more candy that they then freeze in order to avoid buying candy throughout the year. Perhaps they really are just asses that not only don't care to spend the time with their kids but also think they're ability to purchase the gas is justification for using more than their share.

A major bonus of trick or treating is the walk. Halloween is a great evening to spend time with your children and neighbors. The walk is always fun, meandering up one side of the block with the kids, admiring those costumes on all the neighborhood kids, enjoying those homes where the residents put a little extra into their decorations.

We visited with a friend tonight who was at one time our next door neighbor. We don't see her nearly enough, and she loves Halloween as much as (if not more than) we do. There were lots of families out walking the street, some large groups trailing children and strollers in their wake. The street was pleasantly crowded with happy kids collecting their sugary due. However, the street was also filled with cars roving slowly, stopping at the houses with the light on to disgorge themselves of their young content. The parents sat in the car waiting while the kids ran to the door.

Along the same lines was a particular mother I saw tonight. She was also doing the drive-by trick or treat, but she was doing so with a very young child attached to her hip. Attached to her opposite ear was her phone. The child was not old enough to need much candy, and I must admit that no child really needs candy regardless of age, but that's not the point. I don't care that she was trick or treating with the young child, but how much can it be for the child when not only is the child not old enough to understand, but the mother talks on the phone while carrying her child around? How rude is it to the candy givers that this mom couldn't bother to talk to them any more than it took to get her candy? This mom is a side rant, but she's indicative to me of the attitude I see in the drive-by trick or treat.

Finally I'll mention the safety issue. Driving a car on a dark street on that one night when you can most assuredly expect children to be out is just not a great idea. The potential for accidents when mixing night time, cars and children is not something that should ever be overlooked. The fact that you will willingly avoid that tiny bit of exercise is distressing, especially considering that you are out to accept a bag full of sugar and empty calories.

So, turn the car off, drag your ass out of it, and enjoy the holiday. Save a little gas, maybe save a life. Enjoy your children and all of childhood on this great holiday when we know the dead walk the earth. The dead are coming straight for those of us that drive-by trick or treat, so take warning.

Update: my kids are eight and three, below that age at which they are too cool mor Momma and me. As Audrey pointed out in the comments, while she did drive, she let the kids walk the street without Mom for this reason. This is allowable, assuming that your kids are in fact cool. Most kids are not cool, but I'm not jumping into the ps vs. hs rant right now, and that tends to color my attitudes toward childhood coolness. An eight year old in name brand clothes and a swagger? Not cool.

Also, teens pretending to be costumed by wearing a Scream mask or angel wings atop their regular clothing are not in fact costumed, though the Scream mask along with requisite robe is a costume. Teens in general should not be trick or treating, but then one has to sometimes allow for spontaneous desire to relive childhood provided the teens (or even adult in rare instances) do in fact don a true costume.