Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Trick or treat?

It’s that time of year again… Everywhere we look, we see ghosts, goblins, witches, and skulls with flashing eyes. There are cauldrons and tombstones in front yards, and jack-o-lanterns on porches. It’s the time of year when it’s OK to be scared. We even like it, we seek it out. Scary movies by candle light, haunted houses and hayrides – costume parties, and trick or treating. Halloween can be so much fun, with no restrictions on age. I remember wearing those cheesy costumes, which tied in the back like some highly flammable, neoprene johnnie, with the plastic masks, which not only trapped every breath you exhaled, but had eye slits specifically engineered to allow zero peripheral vision. After all, why would you need to see to the side while crossing the streets at night? There were always dangers too – I mean, aside from running around in dark clothes at night, partially blind, while having to avoid open flames. There were creepy guys in vans, candy laced with LSD, razor blades in apples, and a whole slew of other things to watch out for. And as it turned out, the apples got tossed, all guys in vans were creepy anyway, and I never ate a Laffy Taffy and saw my army men perform the closing number from Godspell.

But now Halloween has a new ‘creepy guy in a van’ - Parents. Not all of us mind you, just a select, whiney few. JFK Elementary School in Canton is the latest in a growing number of schools to ban all things Halloween. It started with switching to healthy snacks on Halloween plates… Healthy? Who wants a granola bar on Halloween? But, give a whiner an inch… This year, it’s no costumes, candy, plates, napkins, or decorations of any kind. I wonder how long it will be before Halloween is declared ‘the H word’… But all is well. Halloween is being replaced by a Fall celebration. That’s fun! Are we back to an agrarian society and nobody told me? Are we celebrating plentiful crops harvested? Why would kids want to celebrate Fall? Fall sucks! They go back to school, it starts getting colder, and it’s dark at 5:30. Woohoo – let’s party!

And for what? What is in it for the fun-busters? I don’t totally blame the schools. They unfortunately have to acquiesce to whoever complains the most, which is easier, and less expensive than getting sued for something. But why go out of your way to take the fun out of everything. What is it about Halloween that so offends you, or your little snowflake? Just like with the war on Christmas, (which I’ve written about in the past), we are giving more and more power to the oh-so-moral minority. And if we continue to refuse to take a stand, the proponents of political correctness, and overprotective parents will take the fun out of everything.

Look, I’m all about keeping kids safe, and God knows they need to eat healthier, put down the Xbox controller, and get out on the bike. But I really don’t believe in taking the childhood out of childhood. Let them be kids, and have a little fun once in a while. They have enough pressure on them. Look at us adults. After a long week at work, we can head out for a few cocktails and blow off some steam. Once a year, we can’t let the kids throw on cape and a little makeup, and throw them a few Snickers bars? (That’s a normal Friday night for me btw…)

Bottom line – let’s let our kids be kids. It goes by fast. Life will get serious for them soon enough – ahead of them is work, family, bills, and unending responsibility. My son just turned 17, and it’s amazing to me how quickly it happened. Ultimately, they have so little time to be silly, dream about being an astronaut, write letters to Santa, and dress up and pretend to be their favorite super hero once a year. It is unfathomable to me why there are those who would want to take that away.

“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men” – Willie Wonka