Five children standing on porch, wearing Halloween costumes, portrait

Ryan McVay

As you are well aware, Halloween was last week. Judging from Punch’s hyperactivity level, this year was a record haul. And while there was still candy and costumes and late nights and scary movies, this year something was a little different: Cranky (13) didn’t trick-or-treat at all—too many carbs—opting instead to go over to a friend’s house and hand out candy to the younger children. Whiny (12) did trick-or-treat, but in a block party setting with a co-ed group of friends. My presence—other than in the capacity of driver—was not requested. As I sat with some friends sipping a drink and asking for jokes from the kids, I thought about how much Halloween changes as the children grow up.

Halloween 101: The Toddler Years

When your children are little, Halloween has one purpose: to show the world how cute your child is. I mean, what’s cuter than a wide-eyed, tow-headed 2-year-old except a wideeyed, tow-headed 2-year-old dressed as a dinosaur?

Halloween 201: Greed in Disguise

In the wonder years, a child has two goals for Halloween: pick the perfect costume and accumulate the most candy possible. For weeks, Whiny and Punch would strategize as to how to get the most candy in the shortest amount of time. Can we get from La Hacienda to Old Town Clayton by 7? My gosh, man, there’s no time! If we hop the fence we can get to Chevy Chase, but we’ll have to hurry…

Halloween 301: Prank Accounts

Ah the tweens and their pranks. They may be too young to TP—emphasis on ‘may’—but there is an arsenal of practical jokes available at their disposal. There’s the ding dong ditch, the candy-leaving phantom and the pretending-to-be-tugging-on-a-rope on either side of the street. Once again, I would like to extend a sincere thank you to local law enforcement for their vigilance.

Halloween 401: Flirting with Disaster

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that from about age 13 on, Halloween is all about looking good. Every women’s costume at the store has ‘sexy’ in the title. It’s not a nurse, it’s a sexy nurse. It’s not a vampire, it’s a sexy vampire. I cringe to think of Cranky as a sexy cowgirl, but it’s coming. And don’t worry guys, if you don’t have six-pack abs (or have lost them long ago), you can buy a set to glue to your stomach.

My kids are transitioning from Halloween 301 to 401. There’s probably a 501 out there that involves driving and R-rated movies, but I don’t want to graduate to it yet.

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