Ever since my daughter entered my life, trick or treating has been a part of my Halloween routine. For the past 10 years I’ve missed countless Halloween parties or out-of-town spooktacular events in order to lead her, often by the hand, down the dark streets in search of a sugar high she normally is denied.
On her first Halloween, we dressed her up as an adorable puppy. Her mother and I zipped her in a furry one-piece costume and painted a dark circle around one of her eyes. She had no idea why her parents were forcing her inside a hot costume or messing with her perfect face. Still, she sat on the floor, sighed her discontent, and tolerated our efforts, even though the long, floppy dog ears often obscured her view.
When I paraded her down the street for candy I would ultimately consume like a gremlin after midnight, many parents annonced how adorable she was. As the proud papa, I took in all the compliments as if they were being directed at me instead of my daughter. Their acknowledgement of her obvious beauty and charm inflated my ego, affirming that I had, in fact, helped create the most perfect child in the universe.
Since then, the magic of Halloween ebbed and flowed for me as it does with most parents. I even started to dread the day a few years ago. That dread had nothing to do with spending time with my daughter.
I simply recoiled from the thought of fighting the flocks of screaming, rude children, who stampede over everyone in their quest for candy. I also wanted to sidestep the overgrown trick or treaters, the high school aged children and adults who travel from house to house holding plastic bags and collecting candy without appropriately aged costume kiddoes accompanying them!
But more had changed besides the super sized candy chasers. My daughter had grown up. Trick or treating became an event where dad traipsed behind her while she chatted non-stop with her friends and dressed in increasingly adult costumes. The little princess outfits and animal costumes gave way to cowgirls, 80’s girls, and cheerleaders in too-short skirts.
Somehow, the biggest trick was being played on me! The little girl who had to hold my hand the entire time we trick or treated now barely spoke to me once we exited the front door. She would have been completely content to go without me had I been less of a protective parent.
That was why I was less than thrilled when Halloween of 2011 rolled around. She was now 11, and I didn’t want to just be the parent bringing up the rear, a part I seemed forever cast to play.
I wanted the adorable puppy or the little princess back! The child who got tired from walking and begged me to carry her. The one who eyed other kids with disdain when they got too close to her daddy. The one who had to talk to me the entire time about any little thing that crossed her mind.
But I knew there was no turning back the clock. She had become her own little lady, and I had no other choice but to accept it.
Then, the most shocking even occurred. She chose not to go Trick or Treating!
Instead, she stayed inside with me and curled up next to me on the couch while we watched an assortment of sitcoms (she hates scary movies) in between the overly anxious doorbell rings of the next generation of Trick or Treaters.
Although she wanted to go out with her friends, she lacked the motivation to scour the night to find them. So, instead, she chose me over the candy and the friends.
In that instant, the magic of Halloween returned. I know I won’t have nights like these, when she chooses to hang out with dear old dad, for much longer. She is growing up, and it’s natural for her to spread her wings and fly.
But for that moment, for that Halloween night, I longed for no other place than to have my adorable little puppy once again curled up in my arms before she started drifting off to sleep just like she used to—cradled in her daddy’s arms.
No treat could ever be better!