Teenagers get a bad rap during Halloween — those 6-foot monsters wearing barely a mask with their hands out for free candy. They used to be little once, too, you know.
I remember every costume my daughter has ever worn. First she was Eeyore and then she was a Ghostbuster, then Buzz Lightyear, and after that, Jessie the Cowgirl. Then came Harry Potter and a mermaid. She’s even been Batgirl and a zombie bride — her father went as her undead groom.
Last year was a big moment for our family: Our daughter went trick-or-treating with her friends. Alone. Without us. Never again will I stand at the curb, flashlight in hand, watching my husband and our girl walk up to a door, say their greetings and come back to me with treats. Now, it’s the two of us waiting on other people and their children at our door.
The elementary and toddler set has Halloween on lockdown — the cuteness overload factor is almost too much to bear. They own the night, or as much of it as they can stand. When our girl was little, we’d try to make it to one more house than we did the previous year. Eventually, we got it to more than three blocks, but not that one house — the creepy one with the gravestones and family members who jump out and truly, horrifyingly scare children. I knew the family, which made me the designated candy-grabber. They gave out the big bars as a trophy for making it through.
Last year, without us, she still couldn’t make it up the driveway and through the creepy house.
After all this time, she’s still not so big. In her heart, she’s little too.
But you wouldn’t know that if you looked at all 5-feet and 6-inches of her 14-year-old, teenage-angsty self, hidden under a wig that doesn’t quite fit so well.
With our daughter gone, it was us handing out the candy. The littles were out, sure, but it was the big kids who impressed the most. I had low expectations, and they came in droves with pillowcases in hand. The one boy dressed as Pee-wee Herman was a showstopper — he got a handful of candy from me for his good taste.
If I saw a teen with just a mask and a hand out, I don’t remember it but they got candy regardless — there are far worse things for teens to do than go trick-or-treating.
Where the littles fumble up steps and hold hands as they’re reminded by their parents to say “thank you,” the big kids race down the street, extending jumping legs over bushes, crowding into your doorway like a swarm, game-planning their night into mental blueprints like they’re Kevin McCallister trying to fend off the Wet Bandits, but these kids are figuring out their effort-to-candy haul ratio.
Teens are always the last knock at the door on Halloween night — they keep the holiday we love so much going before the porch lights go out and the jack-o’-lantern flickers die. After they leave, we turn to each other and say, “That went fast.”
And then, as you get comfy for the night, the first Christmas commercial begins to play. I distinctly remember this happening last year. Damn you Glade PlugIns, can we get a minute?
Which means teenagers on Halloween are your last hope before shit gets real. As long as the teens keep popping in and you still have candy, keep giving it out.
After your candy supply is gone, and the granola bar reserves are handed out in embarrassment, you’re in holiday mode. Thanksgiving is a hot minute away and the shopping lists are to be prepped, and before you know it, you’re drowning in my-family-is-the-worst panic but, dear god, what about the election and maybe the end of the world so do you even plan for Thanksgiving and the holidays or not?
I mean seriously, the stakes are high this year — like dystopian high — so you better love every teen who comes to your door like you’ve never talked shit about how uncute and disgruntled they are with the audacity to blow past all 3 million superheroes on the block in search of attaining the elusive pillowcase full o’ candy.
And if that isn’t enough to make you love every teen who shows up to your door, then just remember, they too were little once.