I must be honest, I occasionally love the questions of the week here at ClubMom. They give me something to chew on...something to think about in relation to my own child, my own family.
This is this weeks question:
What is a great Halloween idea you want to share with other moms?
Well. To understand my answer, you must understand something about my kid.
Masks terrify her. Moving things ( like automated statues) scare the holy bejesus out of her. Anything that moves suddenly or unexpectedly can send her into a shrieking puddle of child who is scaling up my leg in order to get to the top of my head.
We finally talked her into the "Rainforest Cafe"...last year, and even then, we requested a spot where she could observe from a safe distance. Those toys that talk when you walk by them? Emily RUNS down toy aisles to get away from them. Tickle me Elmo wasn't so cute to my kid. To her, he represented an obvious threat to her well being and should be avoided at all costs.
So, Halloween? It's a hard celebration for her. In New Hampshire, we would walk by each house and Emily would observe it for several minutes before deciding whether or not to approach the door. Anything too overtly scary, houses with sound effects, or other "fake people" on porches are resolutely passed over. For her, it is not the amount of candy she gets, but the "approachability" factor.
Last year, she consented to go to one house which had passed the initial "roadside scan". I walked up with her and stood to the side as she knocked and sweetly sang, "Trick or Treat!" The resident offered her the bowl from which to choose her candy. She reached out to choose......and the bowl apparently had some kind of hand which popped out of the bowl when it sensed movement.
My kid leaped back about 20 feet, scrambling backward in an attempt to get off the porch and over to me. I glared at the homeowner. Did he not realize how hard I have worked to get her to even walk up onto porches by herself? And now, he springs the "Scary hand popping out of the candy bowl" bullshit on her? Dear Lord, dude. You just set me back two years.
The homeowner was puzzled. I am sure that 99% of kids laughed and thought that this was funny, and scary. Here was now before him a Little Kim Possible, sobbing on her mothers leg. He held out the candy to me... "Take some for her. I'm really sorry." He was lucky I didn't punch him in the face.
Now, I know some families go all out for Halloween. They love the play between the real and unreal. The pageantry of dressing up and being scared, while knowing that you are safe.
But for my kid? Don't leap out at her. Don't offer her candy in bowls that grab her hand. Don't wear a scary mask to the door. Whatever makes up her hard wiring has made her really sensitive to these things. Call it a Jungian collective unconscious issue, a sensory integration issue, or my weird parenting.
So my advice/idea? Know that what is fun for one child is not fun for another. The line between fun and scary can be painfully close for younger children. That just because YOU know it isn't real, doesn't mean that the child will see it that was as well.
Oh, and here is a tidbit of extra from my years of working in Early Childhood. Keep a second bowl of candy (not mixed with the other stuff that you want to eat...Like the Reese's peanut butter cups...not that I know anything about this) that is nut free. This way you can ask if kids have allergies when they come to the door. Parents will appreciate the effort, and the kids will allergies won't have to throw away all of their candy.