Yup, it happened. While perhaps not the most self-aware individual I know, I nailed this one. I am officially a curmudgeon.
You know what convinced me? Halloween. This year.
A little history. My father was not a fan of Halloween. In fact, he called it “semi-legal begging” and for years I was not allowed to go trick or treating. Yes, I was a deprived child (note please, deprived, not depraved).
Last night, I flew solo as my spouse was otherwise occupied. It had poured buckets of rain most of the day, but about 2 hours before the witching hour of 5pm, the rain stopped, the temperature dropped, and the wind started to howl. The conversation in my head went like this:
Me: Wow, this weather sucks. These kids will freeze at 38° with a wind.
Me: I think I’ll stay inside – they can ring the doorbell if any kids and their
parents are “brave” enough to come around.
Me: Shit – it’s 5:15 pm and there are kids and parents walking around. This
doorbell stuff is getting tiring. I’ll put on my coat and sit on the porch.
Me: It is phreaking cold out here.
So, with the temperature dropping, no gloves and no hat, I started to get a rather steady stream of visitors, mostly with parents.
Kid: Stomp, stomp, stomp (up the stairs to the porch)
Parent: What do you say?
Kid: (very quietly with head down), Twick or tweat.
Me: I think I would rather give you a treat. Have one.
Kid: Rummages around the bowl of candy, picks up a few and discards them and then finally grabs one and sticks it in his
pumpkin, bag, or pillow case.
Parent: What do you say?
Kid: Tank you.
The first surprise of the evening was the realization that most, if not all, of the kids over the age of 8 and under the age of 13 had absolutely no idea of what “trick or treat” actually meant. A number of times, the dialogue went like this:
Kid: (say 10 years old)….trick or treat.
Me: I’ll go with the trick
Kid: Please don’t trick me.
Me: I think you have this backwards. If I don’t give you a treat, you
play trick on me.
Me: Yup, that’s how it’s supposed to work
Kid: (puzzled look on face)….wow or huh!
Every 10 kids or so, there was one who stuck their hand in the bowl and began to lift an entire weeks’ worth of candy to deposit into their bag.
Me: Here you go, take one.
Kid: Turns their back to me so that I “won’t see.”
Me: Take one.
Kid: Looks at me like I couldn’t possibly be talking to them.
Me: Right. Take one.
Now at this point I must confess that the little kids who grabbed a handful were, in the vast majority, accompanied by Moms and Dads who intervened by saying, “just one, honey.”
However, when the grabby kids were on the older side, and when their parents stayed on the sidewalk, the big dig began. Note from my spouse:I NEVER let the kids pick candy out of the bowl. Sorry, but you were asking for trouble. So, apparently, this has been a behavior issue for quite some time and some of the brighter humans have evolved in response. Clearly, not me.
My observations: First off, in in this really awful weather, I gave out close to 200 pieces of candy. Modern parenting must really be restricting sugar as the kids had to have been really desperate for candy to come out in this weather. Second, my street, empty of cars at 5pm, was filled with parked cars by 5:30 pm by parents driving their kids around. I estimate the car turnover at 3 times. I know weather was a factor, but really? Third, with the exception of one grandfather, I recognized none of the parents or children who arrived on my porch. Fourth, with the exception of one girl, the grabbies were exclusively male and, while not trying very hard to be politically correct, were more often ectomorphically challenged than not.
After an hour, I went and got gloves and a hat. When the visitations dwindled to the point I could see no one coming, I went in, turned off the porch light and called it a night. After a bit of time, my reflected thought included.
- How is it possible that many kids do not know what trick or treat means?
- What kind of kid doesn’t know that it is one piece to a person unless invited to take more?
- Since when do parents drive their kids around to knock on doors to collect candy? I have no memory of this the few times I managed to circumvent my father’s wishes on Halloween.
- How could I not know virtually anyone who came by my house. Now, I know I am getting old and my children no longer participate in the great American candy give-away, but I didn’t recognize any of the parents (exception noted above) either.
So, that’s it. I am an official curmudgeon. Couple things though that were redeeming: One, I had enough candy. Second, unlike past years, the only real teenagers who came by were trick or treating for UNICEF, so I didn’t have to give candy to someone with a deeper voice and more beard than I have.