Dad laments Halloweens in his future

Halloween is the best holiday. It’s all fun, no travel, no obligations, no gifts. Just festive dress-up, acquisition of candy, black humor and gourd evisceration. Strolling whilst holding Thermoses with questionable content in temperate (if fickle) weather, sharing communal smiles amongst punny plastic tombstones.

My daughter Viva’s completely invested in her costume, still psyched for trick-or-treating, still wanting us to walk with her, still thrilled about obtaining a sack of loot. This year might be our Peak Halloween.

But after you hit a peak, there’s nowhere to go but down, down, into the novelty graveyard. Depending on her predilections and her peer group, we may get a few more solid childhood Halloweens, but each year she’ll keep a wider distance from us on the sidewalk—be a little less stoked about her makeup and props—until finally it’s (shudder) teenage Halloween.

We all know teens are at their least likable at Halloween, when they’re primarily vandalizing one another’s houses, shaking you down for candy long after dark, throwing shaving cream at children and, presumably, vaping. (They’re always vaping.) Gone will be my little girl we once dressed as a pumpkin and carried onto porches to gingerly ring the doorbell. In her place will be some surly creature in too much mascara leaping into a car to go throw shaving cream at her gym coach’s garage (or something).

Fearing the twilight of our Halloween experiences with our daughter is just a symptom of a larger problem, of course: the dreadful notion of her growing up.

Like most parents, we’ll make do and turn our night that was once spent safety-pinning princess costumes and counting Kit Kats into an older middle-aged Halloween hootenanny: No kids and novelty cocktails with dry ice. We’ll pretend we won’t miss the Smarties-fueled grade-schoolers complaining that their capes won’t stay on and that their friend got more miniature Snickers than they, but it’ll all be a lie.I’ll wring every candy corn’s worth of spooky joy out of this Halloween, but the real horror will be lurking behind a creaking door in my mind: the idea that Viva’s childhood won’t last forever. 

Viva Halloween. Viva Viva. Viva Daddy.

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This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Chicago Parent. Read the rest of the issue.

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