Last Halloween, I took turns with my husband handing out candy to the kids in our northern Michigan neighborhood. The orange leaves clung to their branches, just like some timid toddlers clung to the legs of their parents as they approached my porch. I saw the usual culprits: Mickey and Minnie, Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker. But then I noticed a trend. For every few families with small children, there would be a gaggle of tall tweens or teens.
I loved it.
As the cold rain drizzled down, some soggy teens beamed with excitement as they stepped up to the door; others had that apathetic look (you know the one) expertly painted on their faces. A few almost sang the words “trick or treat!” while others mumbled sadly like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. But I didn’t let that dampen my own enthusiasm for them. As a high-school teacher, I just love quirky teens.
As is tradition, many totally half-assed their costumes. They were an athlete of some kind, simply sporting an old jersey. But a good number went all out. They put their art skills to work, and, while a little gruesome, perfected their zombie or Chucky looks.
At one point, a group of four teenagers, with meticulously done-up costumes I might add, stepped up. When I opened my door and said, “Hi!” their smiles stretched to their ears.
“I’m so happy to see you out tonight! I hope my own kids still trick-or-treat when they’re your age!”
They lit up at this. “Thank you!” they said.
“You’re so welcome,” I said. “Trick-or-treat as long as you can!”
“Really?” a tall zombie-like cheerleader said.
“Of course,” I said. “Why?”
“Well, we just got some slack from a guy a few houses ago saying we were way too old to trick-or-treat. But we just really like Halloween,” she said.
“I get that!” I said. “I mean, it’s a pretty fun gig. But I’m sorry that happened to you.”
They thanked me for the candy, but really, I think they were thanking me for more. You see, my own kids are eight and 10. I guess you could say I saw them in those teens, especially the 10-year-old. I see his childhood escaping him—and us. That’s why I applaud these teens—and those who don’t get dressed to the nines to make a trick-or-treat run—for hanging onto theirs just a little while longer.
Not only is it here and gone too fast, but honestly, teens get a bad rap for just about everything. I mean, would we rather they spend Halloween up in their rooms attached to their phones? Throwing pumpkins on “devil’s night?” Trying to impress and one-up each other in some other way?
Of course not. Let’s give them the space and time to just enjoy being kids. There’s nothing sweeter.