Sunday October 29, 2017

Michael's essay — Grown-ups are ruining Halloween for children

"We have been working for decades to leach the fun out of Halloween, but there is still a ways to go."

"We have been working for decades to leach the fun out of Halloween, but there is still a ways to go." (Credit: Getty Images)

Listen 3:20

We are running out of time, people.

We grown-ups are going to have to hurry if we are serious about ruining Halloween for our kiddos.

I realize we're not to call it Halloween. We are supposed to call October 31 Orange and Black Day. Or Spirit Day, or Character Day, or — my hands-down favourite from a Winnipeg school —Tie and Scarf Day.

Nothing screams tons of fun better than sending your kid out the door in a tie and scarf costume.

If we don't act quickly, there may be some pockets of children out there who might come dangerously close to having a good time.

Halloween trick-or-treat children

"If we don't act quickly, there may be some pockets of children out there who might come dangerously close to having a good time." (Shutterstock)

We have been working for decades to leach the fun out of Halloween, but there is still a ways to go.

We took a giant stride forward a few years ago when the Vatican came out against Halloween, calling it absolutely anti-Christian, having an undercurrent of occultism.

And we have had some success with the grown-up costume parties that are now popular.

By expropriating the children's party atmosphere of Halloween, we adults have lowered the fun quotient significantly.

Nevertheless, we can't afford to rest on earlier victories, such as the way we destroyed Valentine's Day for kids.

The Americans, as usual, have the right idea. In some communities, they are holding Trunk or Treat  Day. This is where parents make a circle with their cars in a parking lot and open their trunks which are full of goodies.

Some community clinics are offering to X-ray the kids' candy haul, just in case. It doesn't matter that no kid in the history of the world has ever been poisoned by Halloween candy — you can't be too safe.

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(Getty Images)

The big problem, of course, is costumes. Great progress has been made in introducing the concept of appropriate costumes. 

We got rid of cowboys and Indians, pirates and zombies, cops and robbers, and this year we are moving purposefully ahead with banning clown costumes.

One Ontario principal said banning costumes in his school was a good idea because some of the younger kids might get frightened — which of course is the whole point, but we applaud the principal for his principled stand.

The problem we face this year and every year is the cadre of hard-core parents who keep reminding everybody how great Halloween was decades ago.

These parents actually send their children into the neighbourhood unescorted. They let their kids dress up as gangsters or zombies. They let them be adult-free for a few hours.

On the treat front, we are making great progress. Neighbours are now handing out things like apple slices and yoghurt, and snacks such as Health Warrior Chia Bars ("twice the fibre of bran flakes.") 

But we had better move quickly.

Tie and Scarf Day is on Tuesday.

Click 'listen' above to hear Michael's essay.