How old is too old to trick or treat? That's a common topic this time of year, one I've touched on before. Some cities have set rules, but most do not, and it seems that people are generally in favor of kids of all ages trick or treating.
A post this week telling a sweet story about 15 year-old boys heading out trick or treating, "What You Need to Know About 6-Foot Trick-or-Treaters," has gone viral and most people I know love it. Facebook friends are boldly declaring "no 'kid' is too old to trick or treat at my house."
To be honest, I'm not a fan of old trick or treaters, but I'm clearly in the minority and I'm not so cranky that I would turn away older trick or treaters. Thinking back on the older kids who have come begging in the past few years, my negative feelings stem not from their age but from the fact that they failed to trick or treat by the rules.
Yes, there are rules of trick or treating. I expected my two year-old to follow them, and I certainly expect the older kids to do so as well, especially if they want me to give them free stuff, if they are capable of doing so. (Disclaimer: I understand children with disabilities and sensory disorders may not be capable.)
1. Wear a costume.
You have to make some effort. If I ask what you are, the proper response is not, "Uhhhhh........." I'm going to need a bit more creativity than that.
No little kid is out without a costume, and no big kid should be, either.
2. Be polite.
This one is pretty all-encompassing, and no, I'm not going to cut older kids any slack. They know the drill.
Make eye contact.
Say "trick or treat." If you feel too silly to say that, you are too old to trick or treat. Just holding out your bag isn't going to cut it.
Say "thank you" after you have received your candy.
Do not be greedy. Do not ask for more, and do not be anything other than grateful for what people are willing to give you.
The kids last year who wanted to criticize my candy selection after ringing my doorbell more than 30 minutes after everyone else called it a night pushed it a bit too far.
3. Be kind.
Don't you dare run the little ones over. Defer to them on this night, and in general. Remember that they look up to you, and be deserving of that.
Respect other people's property, including their decorations and pumpkins.
If you really want to score points, trick or treat for UNICEF or find another way to make your fun benefit others in need.
Be neighborly. Believe it or not, in addition to the candy, that's a big part of trick or treating.
It seems likely that the six foot tall boys in the blog post followed these rules, and that makes me happy.
If older kids are all about holding on to their childhood for a wee bit longer, do they let their parents take photos and maybe even come with them? I hope so, because I totally get wanting to keep our kids little as long as we can, but I also think that's a two-way street.
While I understand the desire to hold on to the sweetness of childhood (literally), I think at some point you have to give up the ghost, and other costumes.
Getting older comes with new freedoms (yea!) and responsibilities (boo! and not the Halloween kind). It can be bittersweet. It's worth talking with your kid about the inevitable consequences of growing up, including that you cannot trick or treat forever. Help them view it as a good thing, not just a loss. A few snack-size Snickers may help soften the blow, for both of you.
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Filed under: Holiday