Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween, Neighborhood Style

Halloween where I live now is a big deal. This is only our third Halloween, so we're still getting it all figured out, but it's definitely been a blast so far.

We were lucky that the first year our next door neighbors -- the ones with no kids, so they'd think about the importance of this -- warned up that they'd given out a couple hundred lollipops the year before. My husband kept a tally last year of trick or treaters. Grand total? 342. Seriously. And he didn't count parents or double count the few groups that came through twice. Oh, and yes, I had to dip into our collected candy to have enough for everyone who came to the door.

How do you get so many? It's actually pretty simple. We live in a neighborhood with 118 houses. We have sidewalks. Oh, and the rest of our school district -- or at least the vast majority of the elementary school district -- lives on acres. Literally. Two of the five towns nearest us have a five acre minumum, and the others are one or two acres. That doesn't make for good trick or treating. I'll have to take a picture this year of the cars filling the streets with people who hop out to trick or treat where I live. And yes, we only give one small bar to those people while giving three or four to the ones who live in our neighborhood.

I've also started hearing a lot about places that do trick or treating not on Halloween. That seems odd to me, and luckily it's Halloween only for us. The elementary buses drop kids off right around 4pm, but we start seeing middle schoolers are early at 3:20.

I'm only mildly disappointed that I'll miss out on one of the more disturbing sights this year. One street over, there's been a woman who year after year has dressed as a slut-witch and been drinking at neighbor's within shouting distance of her house. As you approach her house, she shouts "The candy's on the truck! Take just a couple! The candy's on the truck!" over and over again. This is the mom of a high schooler and a college aged kid. You can imagine how she looks in the slut-witch costume. It's kind of like driving past a car accident. Unfortunately, she moved this year and a middle school teacher now lives in her house.

On the plus side, we have neighbors five houses south of us who cook hot dogs as their treat every year. I missed this the first year when Mister Man was three and Little Miss was in the Baby Bjorn, but I heard about it just after I returned from trick or treating from my husband who was anxious to know what I thought of the hot dogs. While I briefly considered walking down to get a hot dog, it wasn't quite worth it. Last year, we planned it so that we got there about halfway through trick or treating so everyone got a snack before we continued on the inner ring of houses. And they were actually good hot dogs! Here's hoping the economy hasn't put the kibosh on that one.

There is a darker side to Halloween in our neighborhood, though.

I'm consistently disappointed by the language and behavior that I hear from the older kids who are allowed to trick or treat on their own. The way they talk about other people -- including those within earshot -- is deplorable. And the amount of swearing is really sad. I hate having the wee ones exposed to that. I've unfortunately never caught up to them to discuss it with them (I'm stupid like that but you'd be amazed how frequently it works), so we frequently have a sit down break to "count our candy" which gives them a chance to get out of earshot.

And last year, we had a disaster. Every year (ok, except this year because we're in Orlando until the day before Halloween), we carve pumpkins. Essentially that means my husband painstakingly carves his single pumpkin for about five minutes while I spent hours completing the three for me and the wee ones. They go out on our porch to avoid putrefying in our house immediately and stay there until I need to toss them.

Trick or treating ends at 7pm by us, although we still have teens coming until almost 7:30. Turning out the lights is the time honored way of saying you're done with Halloween, but being a schoolteacher and teacing middle school in district, my husband won't turn off our lights until everyone around us already has. He has a huge fear of being egged or worse.

Last year, the lights went off, and we started putting the wee ones to bed. Unlike this year where a certain body part of witches is already freezing off, it was fairly warm, so we had the screen door open. We could hear laughing in the street as a band of kids wandered around. Then we heard silence for a moment, assuming they had moved on. Nope. Shortly thereafter, we heard a HUGE splat. It was pretty unmistakeable.

The porch light immediately went on, and we could see all four of our pumpkins smashed in the middle of the street. Needless to say, I wasn't happy, but the perpetrators were long gone, although my husband did go in search of them. From talking to people I know, ours were the only pumpkins targeted.

Thanks a lot, boys. And yes, I'm going to make the radical assumption that it was boys. When the wee ones woke up, they were devastated that their pumpkins were smashed. I still get periodic questions about why someone would smash their pumpkins in the street. Of course, my plan had been to tell them that Halloween was over so we got rid of their pumpkins, but my mom told them what happened before we could warn her.

This year... it won't be so easy. This year, my husband will stand in his costume -- a dark Scream outfit, sans mask -- in the landscaping in front after the lights are turned off. This year, we'll wait. We know it's coming. They don't. When they approach our house, my husband plans to scare the crap out of them. My hope is that he gets a chance to let them know that they're crushing small children's imaginations when they do things like that. Or at the very least that he sees who is doing it and goes to their parents -- except he's already told me that he won't. *I* might though if I know the parents.

So be warned. Halloween may be over when the lights go out, but that doesn't mean it's ok to smash pumpkins. Ever. And as the wee ones get older, they'll continue to have conversations from me about what proper Halloween behavior is -- language, attitude, etc. Anyone want to guess how often we get a simple thank you? And once they're done trick or treating? Come on inside to eat some pizza and watch movies with your friends. Roaming bands of kids is not ok. Here's hoping that other parents (particularly those in my neighborhood) get on the stick. But with the ding dong ditching making a comeback, I'm guessing that isn't going to happen.



Melisa Wells October 28, 2008 at 7:59 AM  

I'm with you. I hate roaming bands of kids. That's why my kids, who are now old enough to go out in our own neighborhood on their own, get the "talk" about Halloween etiquette and the warning that if anything fishy starts going on, it's all over.

I also hate teens who go T & T without a costume, and don't say "Trick or Treat". If I answer the door to one, I just stand there, staring at them in uncomfortable silence, until they say it.

I'm a jerk.

FROGGITY! October 28, 2008 at 8:51 AM  

THREE HUNDRED AND FORTY TWO? (Hi- by the way, I am coming here from SITS.) Good grief, I would go bankrupt!

I cannot believe someone smashed your pumpkins! That's NOT ok.
My Dad stands in the bushes at my parents house wearing a KISS costume complete w/makeup. He's a big man, so this is scary when he appears out of nowhere ... HAHAHA Happy Halloween suckas! :)

Hope you all don't have any disturbances this year.

MaBunny October 28, 2008 at 9:03 AM  

wow, thats alot of T or Ts...
we don't get near that many hear and the one Halloween carnival that we loved going to every year is not having it this year. /sigh..
but we are going to a church trunk or treat and maybe a few houses... not real big in this neighborhood:)

Shannon October 28, 2008 at 10:25 AM  

342 is a lot. Whoa!

We get that here, too... parents driving their kids to houses in different neighborhoods.

And on one hand, I would hope you don't get your pumpkins smashed this year... but on the other, I kinda hope the kids try, 'cause how funny would that be for your husband to scare the pants of them! HA!

Irene October 28, 2008 at 1:46 PM  

342!!? HOLY COW! Wea re in the country, so we don't get nearly that many. Our first year here, though, it was a really warm Halloween. We had some candy, but not nearly as much as we thought we needed! We were frantically emptying our cupboards - the trick or treaters got fruit snacks, chips, old candy...

Well, I cannot wait to hear if your hubby catches the pumpkin smashers. I would want to ream them out myself! Your poor kiddos!

Unknown October 28, 2008 at 3:05 PM  

First year in this house (our first home) we carved pumpkins and set them on the front stoop. They were smashed and now every pumpkin goes on the patio where we can enjoy it.

anymommy October 28, 2008 at 7:06 PM  

I could have written this post! We live in the same kind of neighborhood, last year we had over three hundred kids and it is so much fun. But, a couple of rude, older kids really spoiled it for me. One pre-teen boy swore at me when I told him to take one piece of candy!! I guess I sound old, but it's too bad.

Cookie October 28, 2008 at 11:21 PM  

THat is a lot of trick or treaters! And so sad that they smashed your pumpkins :( Hope this year is better. ANd can I recommend that your husband carry a camera with him when he's waiting outside ;)

MsTypo October 29, 2008 at 4:09 AM  

I must admit that i rather miss halloween. I loved seeing the kids dress up and giving them candy all night. (And maybe not giving away all the candy so there was some left over the next day..)

Thanks for visiting on my BAtW day! The proximity of the pyramids to the city always shocks people. The guide on our first visit had obviously taken people out before and knew the exact moment to say, "Look to your left." :)

Anonymous October 29, 2008 at 7:06 AM  

I saw a cartoon yesterday that showed a homeowner filling his pumpkins with stink bombs. GO for it boys.

I was so polite that I have no idea what stink bombs are. Only boys know.

Yelowflower October 29, 2008 at 8:09 AM  

mean kids are a part of our world, but I DO like your solution! I just hope he is careful. Enjoy the season, it's my favorite.

Laural Out Loud October 29, 2008 at 11:53 AM  

I really really hope that those boys come back this year and learn their lesson! They've had it coming for a whole year!

Tiffany October 29, 2008 at 1:27 PM  

What is the problem with kids thinking they can touch and then destroy YOUR property.

No fear.

Hope your husband catches them!!!

Kellan October 29, 2008 at 2:22 PM  

Yes - the older kids can sometimes ruin the fun for the little ones - for everyone! I hope you husband has the chance to scare the crap out of those kids - HA!

Happy Halloween.


angela | the painted house October 29, 2008 at 8:24 PM  

That is a whole lotta Halloweeners! My lands!

Too bad the slut-witch moved. Sounds like it was great entertainment!

Hope Orlando is still fun!

(my word verification is "bless" isn't that nice?)

WeaselMomma October 30, 2008 at 5:59 AM  

Sounds like Halloween is a hoot at your house. Have lots of fun.

Unknown October 31, 2008 at 12:04 AM  

We had 32 kids last year - I was handing out candy by the handful and still had some leftover, maybe this year will be better. (BTW am here via SITS) I hope that you have a safe pumpkin Halloween

Maggii November 1, 2008 at 8:35 AM  

Wow!! 342!!! I live in one of those 3 acre neighborhoods...I had FIVE, yes FIVE, trick or treaters...I have about 100 candy bars left over...LOL

all of my pumpkins are intact though...

Tabitha Blue November 1, 2008 at 10:23 AM  

That is a LOT of kids coming through! Hope it went better this year... with NO smashed pumpkins... I hate when kids do things like that. :)

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