I wrote previously about my son’s refusal to say “Trick-or-Treat” while trick-or-treating. It’s only fair that I now document my own awkward behavior during trick-or-treat.
Fathers aren’t supposed to try to live vicariously through their sons until the kids are at least old enough to start playing organized sports. I may have jumped the gun a little bit.
At Halloween, our neighborhood is a veritable land of milk (duds) and (bit-o) honey. There are mounds of candy out there for the taking. Naturally, I want my son to get the most out of the bounty that has been provided for his trick-or-treating pleasure.
When I was a kid, I could only dream of a place like this. My neighborhood consisted of two nearby houses (from one of them, I was sure to score a nice, healthy apple). Trick-or-treating was done by car. We had a regular route that took us to about 10 houses in the surrounding countryside. I could have carried all the candy I got in my pockets.
Last year was my son’s first year of real trick-or-treating. I made sure that we began early enough so we could haul in a respectable load of loot. I didn’t account for tired arms or sore feet.
About 40 minutes into the night, the boy asked me to carry his plastic, candy-holding pumpkin. “It’s getting too heavy,” he complained.
The child inside of his father was tempted to upbraid him for such a complaint born of luxury. “My pumpkins were never too heavy,” this inner child wanted to say. “You know why? Because they never had any candy in them. And, what’s more, my pumpkins were grocery bags.” I beat down that inner child, patted my boy on the head, and helped him with his pumpkin.
A little while later, as I was making a mental map of all the streets we’d yet to hit, my son asked if we could go home. “My feet hurt,” he said. By now, I had conquered that ugly inner child, but the father still wanted more for his boy, even if it were only more chances at tooth decay. It was his due, and somehow that made it my due, albeit long-deferred.
“Don’t you want to go to just a few more houses?” I asked. “We can get more candy.” I’m sure I meant that he could get more candy, but that’s the way it came out.
“No,” he said. “I just want to go home.” Halloween was in danger of turning sour on him. No one remembers a death march fondly.
Since his feet were already sore, I didn’t make him carry my childhood baggage anymore. I took him home, but the whole way I made note of each of the houses we had missed. He had all the candy he needed, and more. Yet I found myself counting the missed opportunities. I wonder if I’ll behave better this year.