Growing up I loved Halloween. Everything about it, from deciding on a costume, to getting dressed and the anticipation of waiting until it was just dark enough to leave the house, to the frantic running from house to house yelling "trick or treat" and breathless "thank yous" to sitting and sorting and trading all the candy with other neighborhood kids or my siblings. My parents walked with us every year until about middle school, when we were allowed to go out into the neighborhood by ourselves. Sometimes it was my siblings and I, sometimes there were a few friends. I remember going to a couple parties over the years, but they were never actually on Halloween, and they were always completely kid parties and they were always pretty low key, nothing outrageous. As I got older we still went out just for the heck of it to be silly and see if we could get away with getting candy. I usually could due to my super short stature I sort of blended right in with the kids. It was always a night to be running about in costume being goofy kids. One year my older brother filled a backpack with eggs, toilet paper, and shaving cream for me but I think we ended up using it to have a battle with each other rather than cause any destruction. There were always tons of kids all running around, and parents with the younger kids, but I remember it more as a kids holiday, as in everything was for and about the kids.
The first few years with my own kids, Halloween followed pretty much the same as it had when I was a kid. My husband loves Halloween also, so we would sometimes dress up with the kids and trick or treat together, and we always had our house done up with tons of cool decorations and jack o lanterns we carved. When we moved into one really busy neighborhood, we took turns taking the kids and handing out candy, and it was a busy neighborhood but the kids were also mostly polite and everyone was nice and festive. There were several houses that went all out with decorating and people would congregate along the sidewalk oohing and aaahing over the display. My kids were still pretty young then.
Over the last few years, though, there has been some shift in the whole idea of Halloween it seems. I don't know if this is typical of everywhere, if anyone else is noticing this, or if maybe it is just the area or people I know. But it has become a day where the parents are using it as an excuse to have a party and the kids sort of become secondary.
Where we had previously lived the past few Halloweens was on a dead-end street with very little foot traffic, so we would go around the corner to a big town-house neighborhood that is just huge, it is like its own little community. It is a highly sought after place to live in that city, and while there are tons of families and kids, it is also one where everyone knows your name and what you are up to, and it's also very social, with mini block parties gathering on any random day, because there is no escaping when you just want to sit alone outside. Many people live there for that social aspect, to me it's a turn-off. I need my space and privacy. Anyway. The past few years trick or treating there nearly every adult you pass is carrying a red solo cup of some type of alcohol and the atmosphere is one of a giant outdoor party. There are literally thousands of kids running around in costume and parents just hanging out partying.
Last year I ran into parents from my kids school who were absolutely trashed drunk, some by the time it was just getting dark were already slurring words and smelling of alcohol. I love a cocktail as much as the next person, but there is a time and a place for it and I just don't agree with trick or treating with your kids being one of them. It was like an excuse for the parents to just party because it was a Friday night. Here we are trick or treating with our brood of kids, one who was a baby, and people are inviting us in to party after party, right in front of my kids who don't really understand that it's not a party for them. More than a couple people told us when we made it to their street to just go in and help ourselves, door was open. It was all just very crazy and completely ridiculous to me.
This year we had already decided to stay in our new neighborhood this year. We want to see how it is trick or treating up here, we have family plans in the morning, we have a toddler who may or may not cooperate with the entire evening, my teen and her friends want to use our house to hang out and be in and out all evening, and I will be having a baby 2 days later. I just want to be able to relax. So of course the invites to these "all-invited, family parties" start coming, and the classmates are all talking about the parties and trick or treating together. The first one was from a former classmate of my son. We still see them, but the mom is homeschooling this year. She texted me and I was able to keep it under wraps and not say anything to my kid, I explained to her everything from above and it was all good. Until my son heard about it this week and first got upset when he thought he wasn't invited, and then when I said no we weren't going to be able to do that this year.
Then my middle girl brings home an invitation to a party. That is for the entire family, but starts at 1pm. First of all, if parents are starting to party that early, who the hell is going to be sober enough to take the kids out to trick or treat?? Because these people party hard. There are far too many people out in this neighborhood to keep track of your kids, and I wouldn't send my 9 and 11 years olds out alone, not there. It's so busy you can't even use the sidewalk. Plus, over that many hours, what am I doing with my toddler with no home base of my own when he has had enough? I am certainly not driving 30 minutes back and forth just to appease my older kids. The whole thing is just a mess. And neither of these parties are in the same neighborhood, either. There's also that. And the fact that when you are not drinking and everyone else is, everyone else is really not tolerable or funny or anything else.
My 2 middle kids got together and tried to plot together that they could both get to do these parties, and everyone (read THEY) would be happy. I have been hearing about this for days now. Last night I was just done with it so I sat them down and explained that it wasn't a kids party really. That is was an adult party with kids there, and that it was an excuse for parents to get together and act stupid. I explained about how we were going to have our own plans in the morning as a family with going back to the farm to do our hayride and actually pick apples this time after we have our big family breakfast. That we will be living here for a long long time and we should try and see what things were like on Halloween in our new neighborhood. That we decorated and so kids would be expecting us to be here handing out candy. I was still getting a lot of mean faces and pouting, so I got mean. I told them if what we had planned wasn't going to be good enough then they could make the choice to bring me their costumes and they could skip trick or treating this year completely. And how they were being selfish and ungrateful, and how lucky they were to actually even know what Halloween is. They are probably still a little mad at me, but I won't hear about it again I guarantee that.
I am just so annoyed that the past few years this is what Halloween has turned into. Drunk parents and parties and kids mad because I won't let them go to these things. Why can't it just be trick or treating and be about the kids for 2 hours and everyone go home and gorge on candy? That's the very best part. People I am friendly with I couldn't even look at because they were so obviously inebriated. It's just ridiculous and uncalled for.
Ok, this turned out way more ranty than I started it out to be. Has anyone else noticed this or experienced this? I am really curious!