Twick-or-Tweating Tweens

By Debbie Koenig

“I can’t believe this!” My son slammed down his backpack as he huffed in the door. “They’re asking us to bring in candy to give to the little kids!”

We’re in full, raging tweendom here. Kiddo’s middle school is co-located with an elementary school, and the two entities coordinate their Halloween celebrations. Apparently, the big kids form the audience for the little kids’ costume parade, during which the middle schoolers cheer and hand out candy. In my son’s eyes, providing treats for others — while getting none for himself — is the cruelest kind of Halloween trick.

I get where he’s coming from. Even though he’s a raging tween, he’s just six weeks into sixth grade. Elementary school looms in his rearview mirror. He still sleeps snuggled with a cherished stuffed cat. This morning he told me he wants to continue to pretend the tooth fairy exists, since it’s fun to think that way. Basically, my boy’s about five degrees more mature than a mature fifth-grader. He looks forward to Halloween the way some kids anticipate Christmas.

Once he took a few deep breaths, I sat him down and asked questions. It turns out he didn’t know for sure that his class wouldn’t be getting candy — he inferred it from the minimally detailed flyer he’d brought home that asked parents to supply the goodies. And the older kids do get to come to school in costume, just like they did in elementary school. But no masks, since older kids’ fondness for horror could scare the wee’uns.

I reminded him that he’s already got plans for trick-or-treating in the early evening, with a friend from elementary school. His friend’s mom and I will dawdle a respectful distance behind them (11 is a bit young yet for independent big-city trick-or-treating) and he’ll come home with a bajillion SmartPoints® worth of candy. These reassurances tamped down his outrage.

While he wants to believe in the tooth fairy, he’s definitely aged out of believing in the Switch Witch. Short of a straightforward exchange, video game for candy, he’ll be imagining a nonstop sugar high for several days post-holiday. That won’t happen — he’s not allowed to keep the candy in his room, and he and I will discuss what constitutes a reasonable daily amount before he ever puts on his costume. Usually, he accumulates so much that I can remove a substantial pile without him even noticing. Which presents a new challenge: Throwing it away without eating any myself.

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