Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Taking Candy from Strangers

On Sunday, Kyle trick-or-treated for the first time.  This was a momentous occasion for us.  Sure, the little guy did go outside in costume for his previous two Halloweens, but to say he actually trick-or-treated is the same as saying that someone who put on a pro football jersey and attended a game actually played pro football.  I hear from a very reliable source that I look pretty good in my Tom Brady Patriots jersey, but you can't call me a member of the Patriots.  Truth be told, if you put me in as quarterback in a real NFL game, chances are I'd be on the ground in fetal position, wailing for my mom within twenty seconds of game's the first snap.  It takes more than just the costume to be a full participant.

During the past three Halloweens, Kyle's costumes have, unintentionally, reflected his current state of development.  He was a cow at his first Halloween, fitting because, at four months old, he often stayed in one place and pooped a lot.  For his second Halloween, Kyle was a vampire.  Yes, Kyle was very trendy at the time, but the costume mostly reflected his desire to bite people and drink their blood.  This year he was Bamm-Bamm, the club-carrying child of Mr. and Mrs. Barney and Betty Rubble, of the Flintstones TV show.  The resemblance between Bamm-Bamm and our two-year-old son is uncanny.  Both have bright blond hair, both prefer walking without shoes or socks, and both can turn a living room into a disaster zone within a few minutes.  Kyle does know a few more words than Bamm-Bamm, but he uses them with the same eloquence.  For us, there was no other choice for this year's costume.

Armed with a pumpkin bucket and a felt dinosaur bone, our little Bamm-Bamm went outside for our neighborhood's Halloween festival, which is no small event.  As a Halloween costume parade marched down a street not far from our home, Kyle watched all kinds of spooky creatures pass him by, including monsters, witches, zombies, and Senator Chuck Schumer.  The senator was indeed part of the parade, though he chose not to wear a costume.  Perhaps he felt he didn't need to.  After all, for many Americans these days, an incumbent lawmaker, especially a Democratic one, is scary enough as is.  We joined the parade for a block or so before jumping out of it to get some free candy.

It took Kyle some time to get the hang of trick-or-treating.  Thanks to many agonizing weeks of practice, Kyle could say "trick or treat" without a problem... but he did not know what to do after that.  To the confusion of the candy-givers, Kyle would not hold out his pumpkin bucket.  Sometimes he would pull it away or take a few steps back when someone was trying to give him a treat.  At one point, he even tried to give the candy-giver some of his own candy, not quite realizing that trick-or-treating is a one-way transaction.  I think he started to get the hang of things by the end of the night.  He certainly enjoyed the feel of candy falling into his pumpkin bucket, as he often would beam a wide smile or laugh after receiving some.

Once trick-or-treating was over, the three of us went home to inspect Kyle's loot.  Jennifer and I did our parental duty, checking each piece of candy to make sure no wrapper was open, and making sure Kyle did not receive anything dangerous, such as razor blades or political pamphlets.  We also would have let Kyle try some candy, if he seemed at all interested.  But Kyle didn't care about eating his candy; he enjoyed just looking at the wrappers and their many colors.  He also spent a good amount of time emptying his bucket, putting the candy back into it, and then emptying it again.  To him, that was almost as much fun as the trick-or-treating itself.  Even if he didn't eat any candy, Kyle can still be proud of having taken part in a tradition shared by millions of kids throughout our country.  We are certainly proud of him.  And on Sunday I, too, took part in a tradition shared by millions of dads throughout our country: after the little guy went to bed, I dug into his bucket and enjoyed a sample.  I love Halloween.

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