How Old Is Too Old To Trick or Treat?
Where I live, most of the Halloween night inflation--a positively soaring number of kids out there on candy acquisition duty--has come in the form of swarming packs of little kids, decked out primarily in very traditional costumes--superheros, angels, ghosts, Potters, witches and other storybook figures.
But as the evening progresses and the stock of candy dwindles, we've noticed a pretty steady stream of older--much older--kids coming to the door. Teenagers. Which I say without dread or derision, especially because I have a couple such creatures resident in my own house. But the kids and my wife and I have been having this debate: How old is too old for trick or treating?
My 13-year-old says 15 or 16 is tops. My 17-year-old argues that she's still a kid and still loves Halloween and should be allowed to make the neighborhood rounds as long as she's willing to dress up and get on out there. Some of her friends think she needs to grow out of it; others agree with her; still others just like candy.
They've been having this debate in Belleville, Ill., where they took the topic a bit more seriously than anyone in my house has. They passed a law: They banned any kid who has finished eighth grade from going door to door to hit people up for candy. The offense is punishable by a $25 fine assessed against the parents who allow this sort of behavior.
I kid you not: Here's the link. Apparently, folks in the town were miffed to find fully grown semi-adults arriving to demand Mounds bars--particularly if they showed up after the oh-so-late hour of 9 p.m. No, that's not a typo.
At some age and size, kids do seem too old for this. But in an era when the consensus seems to be that kids are exposed to too much adult stuff too early, there's a strong tug toward letting them be kids a bit longer. On the other hand, a big complaint from many parents of older kids is that they are too coddled these days and need to be pushed toward more adult roles.
What age kids make you at all uncomfortable when they show up at the door? At what age did you start to feel strange making the Halloween rounds? Short of passing any kind of municipal ordinance, at what age would you recommend kids save the costume for a party of their own and buy their own dang candy (or steal it from their younger sibs)?
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