Stealing a Child’s Memories with the Best of Intentions

Halloween was such a disappointment and such a joy.   Disappointing because the number of kids was abysmally low. A joy because I now get to eat all the candy I didn’t have to give away.

Yet the joy is tempered by the loss of such an opportunity.  It would seem the paranoia of our world to avoid any risk (no matter how unlikely) in favor of safety and security robs children of the chance at creating memories.

I know not every neighborhood is conducive to allowing kids to wander house to house on such a holiday (or even on a day-to-day basis) but not most neighborhoods. Where I grew up in Cumberland, Rhode Island we would map our strategy to insure we went to every house in Broadview Acres to maximize our candy haul.

Then, in our house, each of the kids would pile the candy into one huge pile and divide it up. We learned to share, to be selective in our choices, and to spread the joy as far as we could among us.  It wasn’t socialism, it was balancing abundance among family.

But the real loss I see in the lack of kids trick or treating was their being deprived of adventure out of a sense of fear all out of proportion to reality. 

Wandering the streets in costumes unfettered by parents who didn’t follow us around, hovering over us like bodyguards, was a memorable adventure. One I cherish among my many memories. Yet, truth was, we weren’t really “on our own” at all. Every adult became a guardian that night. Letting us believe we were independent yet still with a protective umbrella. Where has that sense of community gone?

We built memories of our adventures and, once we outgrew the age of trick or treating, recognized the wisdom of such controlled independence. Yet, somewhere along the way, we’ve lost something.

It seems today people are so concerned with what might happen; they deprive their children of all the potential joy of gaining independence, making memories, and enjoying life.

My mother always said life in not fair. And she was right.  There are no guarantees in this world, but there is opportunity. And the opportunity to make such memories when one is just a child pass in a blink of an eye.  Don’t lose out on opportunities because you fear what might happen. Embrace them because they are one of the best things about life.

If you focus on the small chance of bad things happening, you’ll miss all the best things in life. And there is no turning back.

2 thoughts on “Stealing a Child’s Memories with the Best of Intentions

  1. Because no matter how unlikely the chances, the stakes are just too high to risk it. In a world where children are stolen just walking home from school, we can no longer count on everyone becoming every child’s guardian. Instead, we have adapted to form trunk or treat events at churches and offices. In some ways its better; there is community partnership, adults getting involved and forming bonds. And the candy hauls are massive!!! Childhood memories are still made, they’re just different. Anyway, that’s my take.

  2. When I was of Trick or Treating age, the bogeyman then was razor blades in apples. There were people all over the neighborhood who would put razor blades in apples. First, if someone was handing out apples on Halloween, I ain’t stopping there. The candy quality telegraph would be broadcast warning us not to waste time. Too many houses had much better treats. Healthy snacks were for sissies.

    But with that said, it’s not that I am telling people to abandon caution. We would routinely throw away treats not in packaging (no matter how rare the chance of someone actually trying to poison us) but living has risks. If one tries to eliminate all risk, there is little living left to experience. The actual risk of a child being snatched from the street is blown way out of proportion to reality. Now one such incident is never acceptable, but the cost of prevention far outweighs the risk. If you wrap your child in bubble wrap, never put them in a car, keep them from being exposed to other children with colds, lock them behind doors in a fireproof house with armed guards, they’ll be safe. But life would have little joy.

    Protect your children but recognize they need to learn to deal with the challenges of life before they become adults. You can’t be there every step of the way, give them the tools and the confidence to deal with adversity themselves.

Leave a Reply