Trick or Tween! How Old is Too Old to Go Trick-or-Treating?

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Kids Want Some “Childhood” to Hold On To

Trust me on this one: that too-cool-for-school hipster in his skinny jeans at your door blithely saying “I’m going as a citizen this year” is covering for a deeper want: he truly wishes, at times, that he could be little again.

Things get complicated in your tweens. Old alliances break up and you have your first heartbreak of losing your childhood “best” friend. This is quickly followed by your second heartbreak: your first love turns out to like your bestie better than you. Meanwhile, the teachers are “cracking down,” “toughening up” and asking you – an 11-year-old – what you intend to do to support yourself for the rest of your life, because you’d darned well better start gearing your middle school electives and future college courses in that direction.

Scary stuff. It’s enough to make any youngster go running back for at least a taste of “real” childhood again.

Yeah, They’re Cavalier and Sullen and Not Dressed Up. I Get It

Hairy monsters showing up at your door un-costumed and not even saying “trick-or-treat”? I get it…that’s annoying. And sure, it’s tempting to snap back “no candy for you.” But there’s a reason for their Look How Cool I Am and How Little This Actually Means to Me posturing.

Here’s the tween/teen thought process: Your friends would surely mock you if you invited them to go trick-or-treating…unless you put a “cool” spin on it. Okay, here are the rules: nobody dresses up, you sass the adults, act bland and blase and NOBODY carries a Halloween bag, you just stuff all the goods into your pockets. Then you go home, watch R-rated horror movies and stuff your faces.

Who’s in?

Everybody…because they all have the same inner thoughts you do, and also just like you, they’re afraid to express them. You just happened to be “the brave friend” who brought it up, risking possibly being pegged a social leper from that point forward. (That’s why you, you know, gotta make it cool, REALLY cool. Not like the little kids…no, definitely not…)

I smile knowingly to myself as the Big Dudes at my door on Halloween night try to amp the “cool” factor in front of one another…and I treat them as hugely, and as welcomingly, as I treat anyone else who comes to my door.

I’ll bet deep, deep, deeeeeeeeeeeep down inside, where absolutely nobody can hear…they’re silently squee-ing when they seize that giant-size Hershey bar.

There Are Worse Things They Can Be Doing

I’m not going to catalog the many, many frightening (to parents) things a tween or teen might be talked into doing in lieu of a former activity in the dead of night. Yes, even a good kid. You already know, and you don’t want to hear it again.

I know, I know. “Not my kid.” Sure, not mine either. (Wink.) But just in case…my 12-year-old is going trick-or-treating along with his 9-year-old brother this year. And I hope he wants to do it all again next year.

  1. I go all out at Hallowe’en, with a big yard display, and started doing this when we moved here 12 years ago. Many of my neighbors were 6 or 7 at that time, and will still come by. My rule is, if you come to my house dressed up, even if all you wear is a mask, you get candy by the handfuls (and I buy the good stuff). If you DON’T dress up, you get ONE piece of candy. I explain this and say if I go to all this effort to make my house fun to view and visit, the least you can do is make an effort to be a part of the spirit. One tween, about 13 or 14, came to my house all dressed up, and reminded me that she had come the year before without a costume of any kind, and got only one piece of candy. She had told her mother when she got back in the car, and her mother said she thought that was fair.

    I figure these older kids are the ones who will be doing the yard haunts in the future, and I want them to have as good a time as any other kiddo out there. Heck, I give candy to the parents who dress up, and offer cups of hot cider to all the adults who come by. Hallowe’en should be fun for all!

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