Halloween II: Sins of the father

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.

Mohawk Valley, New York

Beautiful scenery, yes. But none of those trees give out candy on Halloween.

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.

batman posing with his dad

“There’s no room in my pumpkin for your childhood regrets, Daddy.”

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.


60 comments on “Halloween II: Sins of the father

  1. Traci says:

    Great post. I remember growing up in the country where trick-or-treating was a physical endeavor. You had to work hard for those fillings.

  2. Scott, Haven’t you ever heard of training? We train for marathons, walkathons, triathlons. Every child must endure the training to have a successful Halloween. :O)

  3. Tibor loves Halloween. They don’t have a similar holiday in Hungary and our girls are allergic to 99% of the Halloween haul they bring home.

  4. “No one remembers a death march fondly.” Amen. Been on a few of these. We told our kids on our first trip to Europe that it was illegal to carry children in London and Paris. We had some long walks with lots of breaks for ice cream. Parenting at its finest.

  5. I grew up in the country as well, which meant lack of houses to hit for candy. My sister and I were so unsure of ourselves on this holiday that we would fight over who had to knock on the door and say “trick or treat”. Our children have no such qualms!!! Have a Happy Halloween this year!

  6. susielindau says:

    Love this! I remember seeing kids with full pillowcases and always wondered how they got so much candy in so little time???? I had a paper sack too.
    It was always cold in Wisconsin and I remember layering up, but Colorado has had its share of nasty years when my own kids didn’t stay out long.
    It will be in the 70’s this year! Whoa…I better stock up on candy….
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  7. notquitefashionsavvy says:

    This is fantastic :’) What else are children for, if not to vicariously live through? I love the idea of you urging him to carry on, it speaks to the side of me that measures success by endurance. The more houses, the more sore feet and tiredness, yes, but also the more potential for sweets!

  8. segmation says:

    I hope you don’t behave differently this year! Have a fun and safe halloween together!

  9. Unless you want to tell your son a ghost story about what happens when you whine on Halloween, you’ll just have to be patient and hope that with age comes strength and wisdom, even for little boys.

  10. iRuniBreathe says:

    I also grew up where we had to trick-or-treat by car and you had to work for every tiny tootsie roll you did get. Now that we live in an area with houses a-plenty, I also secretly think of how much loot my own kids can bring home. Never mind the stomache aches, tooth rot and the fact that they don’t like half the candy they receive — the bounty is there!
    I don’t go trick-or-treating with my kids anymore; it’s my husbands job. And I have resigned myself to understand that just because something is there, doesn’t mean it needs to be taken.
    I hope you behave better than last year. Happy Halloween!

  11. We may bring along the wagon this year. That way we can go until they’re completely exhausted and then pull them home.

  12. I too grew up in the country and know exactly what you are talking about!! We really push our kids too!! They still have mainly baby teeth so they should eat as much candy as possible now!

  13. yearstricken says:

    Hilarious. I love your caption about the pumpkin not big enough to carry your childhood regrets. I really love your sense of humor. And I hope you help him eat all the candy; it’s a lot to expect of a young child.

  14. I really liked the way you described how we, parents, try to ‘live’ thru our children… it’s so true… growing up (in Brazil), we weren’t as exposed to Halloween as my kids are nowadays… so I miss something I really didn’t have (is that possible?!), and tend to live in (during Halloween) thru my children, who genuinely love and look forward to, Halloween. Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt (and humorous!) post! Thanks for a traveling parent, and greetings from La Paz – it’s Halloween Season over here! 😮

  15. zachbissett says:

    I don’t think you’re alone; I have dim recollections of my father egging me on through unfamiliar neighborhoods. I was so tired but he knew he could weasel a few more ounces of candy out of me.

  16. optimisticgladness says:

    My children are fuddy-duddies!? My husband would go out on a Saturday night and ask the kids if they want to go with us…”Naaa. We’ll just stay home and read or play the wii.” What!? We don’t force them either. Good post!

  17. Kathryn says:

    There is no wrong when candy is involved! Haha, great post!

  18. I can’t wait to take my baby girl out for candy. I hope I can stay as aware as you did, I will probably be eating candy as it’s placed in the bag.

  19. mutti39 says:

    Here, in southeastern PA, Halloween will probably be cancelled because of the witch from the water, Hurricane Sandy. I have 8 big bags of dark chocolate M&M’s which will go into my evac bag; a treat to enjoy while enjoying nature’s trick.

    Great post.

  20. I think as a parent there is always the question of being too hard or too soft on the kids, when I was a kid I always would opt for my pillow sack over a plastic pumpkin to hold candy because it could hold so much more. I think in the end we as parents are caretakers at best and can only do so much. The company I work for deals in helping small children stay in organized sorts by teaching them the fundamentals of the game, which is very important.


  21. vyvacious says:

    Your kid is already a winner. He’s Batman.

    Don’t worry, you can still go trick-o-treating on your own. That’s what my aunt and I do 😛

  22. Anita Neuman says:

    As long as you charge a candy tax (like, 50% of the haul), you can still call yourself a successful halloween parent. At least, that’s the standard I’m shooting for. Congrats on the FP!

  23. julielees says:

    Uh! Kids today… don’t know they’re born.

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