Thursday, November 1, 2007

halloween without children

Last night as I and S rushed around, putting out our Jack O'Lanterns and preparing our costumes, it slowly dawned on me that no children were coming to our door. I had not really given it much thought, or even cared much, earlier in the day. I guess I had not expected many to come. Mom and Dad only saw three last year, S had told me. But all of a sudden, while R and S were eating a late supper in preparation for a trip to New Haven for a little partying, I felt sad. I had gone out to the desk by the front door to open up a candy bar for myself and seeing the untouched bowl, I felt it. Not one kid!

We have a dark little dead end road, but S had placed his masterpiece, "Big Jack O'lantern vomiting out Little Jack O'lantern," out by the mailboxes.

As I had driven around placing my three Jack O'lanterns around town, I had only seen one group of kids on the road. Where were all the kids? When I was young enough to trick or treat, the roads were alive with kids.

Later on in the truck on the way to New Haven, we tried to make sense of it. There are probably few families with kids in the apartments on Wall Street, I reasoned. But it did not make me feel better. S said he had heard a few years ago that parents were more and more trying to keep their kids to "secure" activities, like planned parties or school events. In other words, even in this super safe suburban town, where the police have so little to do that they have plenty of time for hobbies such as pilfering seafood from restaurants and stalking old girlfriends online, kids are still in danger. Or at least, they are perceived to be in danger -- from one's very own neighbors!

There was a sense of excitement in trick or treating at will, roaming the darkened landscape in costumes, approaching houses familiar or strange, pressing the doorbells. And now -- dangerous? Do parents in this suburb really believe their kids to be in danger? Even from people every bit as rich and white and devoted to their property values as they themselves?

It just goes to show, once one is insecure, nothing can make one feel safe. The problem is the fear itself, not external conditions. Children need small chances to stray from the watchful eye of parents -- to feel the beauty and risk of life.

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