So yesterday I heard alot of rhetoric about Halloween. Specifically about Trick or Treaters and what age they should stop. I listened to many opinions. Some said it was over after elementary school. Some said that as long as they were dressed up and had put effort into it - teenagers were still okay. It was interesting to me the amount of energy that went into this debate. On the radio. The television. Mothers. But one thing was certain, people had very strong opinions and were ready to enforce them.
But sometimes life just isn't black and white like that. People don't fit neatly into some category or age cut off.
Yesterday evening, I read the facebook status of someone I met when I first began blogging. Her words resonated with me...
"Something to think about: Tonight a lot of creatures will visit your door. Be open minded. The child who is grabbing more than one piece of candy might have poor fine motor skills. The child who takes forever to pick out one piece of candy might have motor planning issues. The child who does not say trick or treat or thank you might be shy or non-verbal. The child who looks disappointed when he sees your bowl might have an allergy. The child who isn't wearing a costume at all might have SPD or autism. Be nice. Be patient. Its everyone's halloween. Make a mom feel good by making a big deal of her special child. :)"
You just never know what is going on in someone's life to pass judgment.
As kids grow older they tend to trick or treat in groups of peers. These groups plan and coordinate who will go together, where they will go and sometimes even what they will do for Halloween costumes as a group theme. It is a time in life that moms aren't involved in the planning of trick or treat.
It is actually a difficult time. You wouldn't think that Halloween could become something "exclusive" in middle school kids - but I watched it happen with all four of my kids.
A few years ago, Son #1 was left out of the group who coordinated their Halloween plans. Two years ago it was Son #2. Last year it was Son #3 and this year it was Daughter. All of the circumstances were not identical but the general theme was.
Parents did not coordinate. The kids did. Each of my children was led to believe by their "friends" that they were all going together. But each of them learned that they were not included at all on Halloween day. One time it went so far that my son actually went to the house to meet up with the boys and they just ignored him (their mothers too) and he walked home.
Well this year Daughter took her turn being left at the Halloween altar. She had been told by her friend that she would not be coming on Halloween morning. She was going to go with another friend instead. So Daughter was out of luck.
I offered to dress and go along with her but she didn't seem too thrilled with that. I watched her mope around the house and flounder over what to do. I had seen this before too many times.
Last night all three of her brothers were sitting in the family room finalizing their Halloween plans. When they heard what had happened to their sister, they each went around the room taking turns telling their Halloween tale of heartbreak. The year they were jilted. Son #2 started to talk about it and then he raised his voice - "I don't even want to talk about it. It was awful." Then Son #3 started to tell his story of woe that happened to him last year by his "best" friends. The best friends that ditched him completely.
Then something awesome happened.
Son #2 invited his sister to go out Trick or Treating with he and his girlfriend. Yes, they were 14 and 15 - perhaps a bit too old to still go out - but none the less they were preparing to go and willing to include her.
Then Son #3 piped up. "You can go with me and my friends. It might be a little awkward - but you know them. They are nice."
I was so impressed that both of my boys were willing to take her. They empathized with her tremendously. Both had been there and knew how crummy it felt.
However Daughter was not willing to go with either of them. She didn't want to be a "third wheel" with Son #2 and she wasn't comfortable going with Son #3's group. Mostly because she heard their plan to go to all 1200 homes in the community. She knew she couldn't keep up with that kind of action.
So she declined those offers and told me that she would just stay home.
I tried to encourage her again. "I will take you. Let's go!"
But she said, "I don't want to go to the door alone. I want other kids to go to the door with."
Son #1 came upstairs and heard the conversation. He recalled his own Halloween nightmares and offered to go with her.
She said, "Will you dress up and go to the door with me?"
He said, "That would be weird. I think people will be angry."
But she insisted and eventually he agreed.
So at 17 years old, after not having trick or treated for 4 years since the year he was abandoned by his friends - Son #1 put on his motorcycle helmet and leather suit.
Daughter ran upstairs and got him a pillowcase.
He was very hesitant. I could see his anxiety about it.
But he saw his sister's excitement and took the pillowcase.
And they left.
They were only gone for about an hour.
Enough that she was freezing and he was sweating in his suit.
He came in and handed her his bag of candy and told her she could have it.
Then he began to tell the stories about the adults who were angry when they opened the door and saw him there. The ones that furrowed their brows at him. The ones who put sneers on their faces.
Because they didn't know.
Didn't know why he was there.
How kind he was really being.
What an awesome kid he truly was.
It was hard for him to do that. He was embarrassed. Afraid of what people would say or who he might see. But he did it for his little sister.
He told us a story that this particular house gave he and my daughter the last of their candy. When he turned around to walk up the driveway he saw a little four year old and his dad walking toward that house. The owners shouted, "I'm all out of candy. Sorry."
With that, Son #1 bent down and opened his bag to the little boy and said, "Take whatever you would like."
The dad said it wasn't necessary but my son insisted.
Son #1 kept up a very positive demeanor when he got home. He was drenched in sweat.
After a very happy Daughter went to bed, my son admitted he felt badly.
He didn't like the looks he was given by the people at the doors.
It reminded me what that blogger had posted on their facebook status.
It reminded me what all of the "talking heads" were saying about cut-off ages for trick or treating.
Such a critical world.
Ready to pounce on what they deem "wrong".
It's one night.
Is it really necessary to tell kids when they are too old?
For goodness sakes, soon enough they will be out in the real world.
Living in those houses. Working to pay the mortgages.
They will be the hands dropping candy bars into the bags of children.
I am fairly certain that Son #1 will see those kids from a completely different perspective after his experience last night.
I'm proud of you, Bud. You made your sister very happy. She will never forget the Halloween you took her out.
You saved Halloween for her. There may have been many dressed up as superheros last night...
...but you were the real deal.