By Robin Conte
I used to cringe at the sight of groups of large and lanky teenagers trolling the neighborhood with pillowcases on Halloween night. “Greedy, candy-grubbing kids,” I used to think, picking out the smallest, cheapest bits of sweet tarts from my bowl and handing over one piece each to 6-foot-tall boys wearing “I heart Bacon” T-shirts and giggly girls in Catwoman ears.
But things have changed. Now my kids are among the trollers. My sons are taking college level courses in high school, but they still haven’t outgrown the lure of free candy…lots and lots of free candy.
Determined not to be one of “those moms” who lets her teenagers run rampant through a holiday invented for preschoolers, I tried to curb it last year. It seemed to me that if you’re old enough to drive a car, you’re too old to trick or treat.
But I caved to peer pressure, and it came from all sides — from my boys’ friends and from their friends’ mothers (a.k.a. my friends). My line was outvoted.
I understood the other side of the argument: “It’s just wholesome fun. It’s just one night a year. They’ll be too old soon.” And there was indeed a persistent, albeit tiny, little voice in my head that was agreeing, OK, already, let them have their one night of fun. This will be the last time. Besides, it’s not like they want to run off and get a tongue piercing.
So I relented and let them go on All Hallows Eve, with a list of provisos:
*Don’t keep at it after 9 p.m., and don’t knock on the door if the lights are out.
*Don’t carry a pillowcase, and don’t grab a handful from the candy bucket.
* Try not to look so tall — slump, if you have to.
*Be sure to say “thank you.”
*And for the love of all things pumpkin, make an effort at a costume.
So out they went, to the thrill of the hunt, the last rite of childhood, the joy of free chocolate, all experienced in the camaraderie of friends.
And they had a great time.
Will they want to go out again this year? I don’t know. But I have decided that if they ask to go, it’s not a battle worth fighting. I’ll send them off with a kiss and a flashlight. And I’ll add one item to my list of conditions: I want the Almond Joys.
Robin Conte is a writer and mother of four who lives in Dunwoody. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.