‘I’m going out with my friends tonight’ announced my daughter, on Halloween night.
‘Trick or Treating?’ I asked.
‘No mum’ she said, rolling her eyes.
‘Ooh’ I said, ‘have you grown out of it?’
‘Mum I didn’t do it last year’ she said patiently.
‘Oh’ I said, ‘oh yeah, of course, I remember now. I do pay attention, honestly.’
I don’t like Halloween. Or to be more specific, I don’t like trick or treating, we didn’t do that when I was a child, it’s a practice that arrived at some point when I wasn’t looking and was well-established by the time my kids came along.
I think it should have stayed away. What was wrong with good old Penny for the Guy if you want to teach kids extortion?
In those days, at Halloween all you got was literally pennies as a reward for sticking some rolled-up newspaper with clothes on in an old pram and pushing it round the streets. My kids, by contrast, have always had to dress up as extras from The Living Dead and they come home with bags and bags and bags of assorted sweets and goodies. Because yes, despite my distaste and ethical reservations about demanding treats from strangers under threat of playing nasty tricks on them, I have always allowed them to do it.
‘It’s because I’m a hypocrite’ I’ve explained cheerfully when they’ve questioned me.
Luckily they have all had friends whose parents didn’t mind them joining in on an organised parent-supervised trip around town until they each got old enough to do it by themselves, and I am hugely grateful to all those parents. It meant I was free to hide indoors for the evening ignoring all knocks on the door (and I mean that literally, I have actually, on occasion, hidden in the kitchen with the lights turned off). Is there a Halloween equivalent of Scrooge? Well that’s me.
I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking that I should forget about how things were when I was a child and just embrace the new traditions of modern childhood. And if you are thinking that, I’ve got two words for you.
Party bags. I think you know what I’m saying.