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How Old Is Too Old? Thoughts On Trick or Treating Teens

By Cheryl Maguire

Lights illuminated our house, ten bags of candy brimmed a colossal bowl, and my husband donned a Doctor Who costume. We were ready for Halloween night in our new home.

The doorbell rang. Our first trick-or-treaters had arrived. Cinderella, Buzz Lightyear and Superman stood before me holding pumpkin containers and in unison said, “Trick or Treat.”

Superman pointed at my husband and announced, “Look, he is dressed as Harry Potter!”

The gold and maroon Doctor Who scarf did resemble that of the famous Hogwarts wizard. It was an understandable error: Doctor Who is an obscure sci-fi television show while Harry Potter is a multi-million-dollar franchise with an amusement park. For the next hour, an unremitting stream of eager children gathering candy appeared at our door, and an interminable amount of people identified my husband as Harry Potter.

Too Old For Trick Or Treating?

And then I had a strange encounter.

The doorbell rang. A young couple stood before me. I searched for their child, but I was unable to locate one.

The young man said, “Trick or treat.”

I did a double take. Neither the man nor woman wore a costume. At first, I believed their age to be in their twenties but then I reconsidered. Could they be in high school? The man had a beard, and the woman’s hair was swept up into a ponytail. They held their pillowcases in front of me, waiting for their treats.

After the shock and disbelief wore off, I felt slightly annoyed. I purchased the ten bags of candy for adorable kids dressed in costumes, not for teens in jeans and a t-shirt. I considered offering my opinion by stating, “If you are old enough to grow a beard, drive a car, vote for the president, and get a job, then surely you are old enough to drive yourself to the store and buy your own candy or the very least a costume.”

The young man must have sensed my hesitation or possibly read my mind because a smirk appeared across his face. He was offering a subtle reminder that the first word he uttered was “trick.”

Treat, or Get A Trick: Teens On Halloween

I thought to myself, He is also old enough to procure a dozen eggs, a roll of toilet paper and a bottle of shaving cream.

I didn’t want to be that house that the teens egged, TPed, or decorated with shaving cream, so I begrudgingly dropped a Kit Kat, Milky Way and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup into each of their pillowcases.

The young man must have Tweeted or Snapchatted or accessed whatever the current mode of teen communication they use to send messages—because after the couple left, we received an influx of similar-looking delinquents.

I’m guessing he said something along the lines of, “House #80 is giving out mad candy. And be sure to check out the weird dude dressed as Harry Potter.”

Now our candy supply was running dangerously low. We panicked. What if we ran out? Our new house would be marked like Hester Prynne with a scarlet “A” on her dress. It was almost 8 p.m., so we boldly decided to turn off all the lights and waited. Every sound we heard made us wonder if we were under attack. Finally, the noises died down, and we felt somewhat relieved.

“Well that isn’t what I expected,” I said.

“Me neither. I mean, Harry Potter doesn’t look anything like Doctor Who.”

“No, I meant the non-costumed teens invading and ‘asking’ for candy.”

“Yeah, they were a little old for that. When I was a teen, we just went around egging or spraying shaving cream at houses.”

Okay, I didn’t expect to hear that either.

Costumed Kids Only, Please

Next year I’m going to try to prevent some of these adolescents from freeloading off my candy intended for fledgling children decked out in elaborate costumes. Near the doorbell there will be a sign declaring:

Please ONLY ring the doorbell if

  1. You are dressed in a REAL costume. A sweatshirt, t-shirt and jeans do NOT count. If you are carrying a pillowcase to hold the candy, you probably shouldn’t bother ringing it either.
  2. You are too young to grow facial hair or to obtain a driver’s license or a job.
  3. Please read #1 and #2 again to make sure you fit ALL the requirements.

Don’t worry, I know what you are thinking. My intricate preparations will also include a fully stocked closet of cleaning supplies.

Cheryl Maguire

Cheryl Maguire holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology. She is the mother of twins and a daughter. She has written for Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings, Parent Co., Signature Moms, Mothers Always Write and Twins Magazine. You can find her on Twitter.