Lifestyle

Halloween Is Supposed To Be (a Little) Scary

Halloween combines the two things we fear most in America today—kids actually leaving the house, and food other than hummus and baby carrots being fed to them.

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Hey there, parents! Got a giggly little ghost or goblin heading out for Halloween? Not for long.

That's basically the bottom line when it comes to the advice parents get this time of year. Because Halloween combines the two things we fear most in America today—kids actually leaving the house, and food other than hummus and baby carrots being fed to them—it has become an orgy of safety warnings wrapped up in the kind of fake cheer that makes you want to reach for your scythe.

"Halloween is an amazing holiday, when kids get to indulge in make-believe play and of course tons of candy! Unfortunately, as fun as this spooky holiday can be, it is statistically one of the most dangerous nights of the year."

So begins a typical upbeat/doomsday blog post, this one by a pediatrician who divides her warnings into such chipper categories as "Candy Catastrophes" and "Burns, Bruises and Broken Bones."

Burns are bad. Putting lit candles into pumpkins does seem stupid in this post-Edison era. But the author suggests that you not only get your kid a costume that isn't flammable, you also "go over and practice the principle of stop-drop-roll with your child, just in case his or her clothes catch on fire."

Hey kids! Let's get ready for a fun night…and melted flesh! A tradition that is actually extremely benign—kids playing dress-up and visiting the neighbors—is seen through the lens of extreme risk aversion, with every aspect given the attention usually reserved for a plane crash post-mortem.

"The nature of the holiday alone can make it perilous, as children wear loose fitting costumes." That's the staid U.S. News & World Report, getting worked up about tripping. Tripping! Kids trip all the time, but come Halloween that fact is rewritten as a "peril" that parents must take serious steps to avoid. The mommy blog She Knows goes so far as to tell parents to case the route in advance to make sure there are no "sidewalks in disrepair."

I guess if there's a crack, everyone will just have to stay home and play video games instead.

"Masks can limit your kid's range of vision," warns another safety site—which then warns about the alternative to masks: "Make sure to test any face paint on a small patch of skin a few days before Halloween to make sure your kid doesn't have a bad reaction." Parents are being told to prepare for the holiday as if it's outpatient surgery.

And of course, this is the month brought to you by the word tampering. So every article on the holiday insists you inspect your kids' hauls before allowing them so much as a single Smartie. Never mind the fact that no child has ever been killed by a stranger's candy. Lately, the warnings have evolved beyond "don't eat a Nestlé Crunch if there's already a bite taken out" to "have a system in place for your kids to trade out their trick or treating loot for other non-candy goodies when they get home" (advice from Molly Dresner, author of The Speech Teacher's Handbook).

A system in place? Doesn't that sound just a tad obsessive?

It has become almost a competition to see who can come up with the most outlandish fear and demand the most outlandish precautions. So the parenting lifestyle blog Babble told folks that if their little witch demands nail polish for the night, this should be applied with the windows open or, even better, outside, so the kid doesn't inhale dangerous fumes. Last year I overheard an acquaintance's tween daughter telling her friends that she'd wanted to wear a fake leather jacket for Halloween but nixed it because it was made of plastic and this could give her cancer.

"No, it won't," I butted in.

"I don't want to die young," the girl retorted.

You gotta feel bad for the kids being driven from house to house in their not-too-long, nontoxic costumes, only to be allowed one well-wrapped treat at the end of the evening. But I feel even worse for parents, who are told they're basically killing their kids if they aren't on guard every second against cars, cancer, creeps, candles, candy, and—mwahahahaha!—cracks in the sidewalk.

NEXT: It's That Old Looney Tuner, Lysander Spooner

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  1. This year I’m dressing up as a slutty pearl-clutcher.

    1. I’m dressing up as an apple with a razor sticking out of one side, and black tar heroin oozing out of the other.

      1. I’m dressing up as an LSD laced tattoo sticker of Mickey Mouse. Because that’s what scared the shit out of my parents when I was a kid.

    2. Stepford wife with low cut and high skirt sound doable and fun! Shrug that buttons below the bust line for added sexy boob and the sweater look.

      I like this idea.

  2. The world’s going to end in less than 10 years anyways so what does it matter if you die a little early. Will save you from enduring the AOCopolypse a few years down the road.

  3. Someone should have their daughter dress as Greta Thunberg and instead of collecting candy, she just screams and points at the adults.

    1. HOW SCARE YOU!!

  4. That is like valid reason #3 call to CPS.

  5. “So begins a typical upbeat/doomsday blog post, this one by a pediatrician…”
    – Avoid that house. It’s the one giving out dental floss.
    “you also ‘go over and practice the principle of stop-drop-roll with your child, just in case his or her clothes catch on fire.'”
    – FFS.
    “The mommy blog She Knows goes so far as to tell parents to case the route in advance to make sure there are no ‘sidewalks in disrepair.'”
    – Again, FFS.
    “‘have a system in place for your kids to trade out their trick or treating loot for other non-candy goodies when they get home’ (advice from Molly Dresner, author of The Speech Teacher’s Handbook).”
    “Last year I overheard an acquaintance’s tween daughter telling her friends that she’d wanted to wear a fake leather jacket for Halloween but nixed it because it was made of plastic and this could give her cancer.”
    – Perhaps Molly Dresner isn’t childless after all.
    I’m so glad I came of age in the late 70s.
    – Methinks her book should be called “The Childless Speech Teacher’s Handbook.” At least I hope so.

    1. Whoops, some of the lines got shuffled there. I’ll be on my way now.

  6. I’m doing the stressed out mom thing again.

  7. “Bla, bla, bla…the free-range kids taste much better than the cage-raised ones, ha ha ha ha!”

    1. “I don’t want to die young,” the girl retorted.

      OK, here’s a tip; cancer isn’t your biggest threat until you’re older you little twerp!

      1. “Pssst! Time someone told you the facts. Cancer comes from authority! Now here’s your candy. Good Ayn Rand costume, but lose the wart.”

    2. Whoops, that didn’t mean to reply to you Eddy.

  8. they don’t have to believe everything they’re told.

    1. In the post 9/11 security state? Woe to the one who doesn’t.

  9. You know who else wore a funny looking costume?

    1. Justin Trudeau? Ralph Northam? …

    2. Carmen Miranda?

    3. Ed Gein? John Wayne Gacy?…

    4. Bruno Ganz?

      1. DOH! Very clever sir…..I can’t disqualify you for that so you win…THIS time. I’ l’ll be keeping an eye on you though

    5. Prince?

  10. Letting your kid prance about the town pretending to be a mutilated zombie is dangerous and immoral; but, cutting off your kid’s dick and letting him walk around town pretending to be a girl is a moral obligation.

    Got it.

    1. #ClownWorld

  11. I stopped reading the article, but did they ever get to the point where it was distinguishable from a pearl-clutching article about Halloween from the 90s?

    That said, if you go back to it’s early 1900s roots, the holiday is supposed to be about vandalism. This costume and “fun” nonsense is a terrible butchery of the tradition. Which is to say, if you find yourself arguing based on what something is “supposed to be”, you’re probably not on as solid ground as you think you are.

    1. My mom-born 1925-remembered only doing tricks on the neighbors, no candy. Not major vandalism mind you, more like TPing the Allen’ front yard—that sort of thing

    2. You gotta sacrifice a few black cats to have a full Halloween experience.

      Black cats – is that racist? Because it’s the fur that’s black, not the skin.

    3. When we lived in Germany there was a thing called “damage night” the kids would roam around doing those kind of small acts.

      Here there is something like that called the pumpkin roll. So the kids, mostly teens, steal those pumpkins people put out for decoration. There is a certain hill in a nearby community where they gather all of the stolen pumpkins. They roll them down and smash them. I got some stolen once. Last little pumpkin left I drew a sad face and a little sign saying “I miss my friends. Boo hoo.”

      So in memory of those years when you were out of direct parental supervision and engaged in stupid, dangerous, dumb ass things. When you felt free for the first time.

      The classic from Smashing Pumpkins.

      https://youtu.be/4aeETEoNfOg

  12. Remember c 1980 my friend dressing up as Red Sox player Jim Rice with skin colored by black shoe polish and an Afro wig to top it off -everyone thought it pretty was awesome in our neighborhood of zero black people. Nowadays, it’s mostly Subaru driving white progs who live there, would be funny to see there reaction

  13. I now bestow upon the commentariat my traditional Halloween comment:

    BLACK LICORICE MATTERS.

  14. My last time trick or treating was 8th grade-1981.I went as Brezhnev

    1. Did they make you wait in a long line for your candy, only to end up giving you a single lint-covered piece of candy corn?

      1. No one messed with me that night lest I brow beat them—and those were some wicked brows!

  15. Halloween as we knew it is over anyway.

    Really what parents should be doing is organizing and participating in community parties so kids can dress up and get candy and goodies. Would be more fun for them.

    1. Have you not heard of the “Trunk or Treat” events with bounce houses!!! all over town?

      Our city government put one on in the local park, with several thousand attending. Local social service agencies set up booths.

      [sigh]

  16. I’m going to knock on the neighbor MILFs door and fall to my knees with my mouth agape: “Trick or Piss!”

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