Shut Your Smug Faces About The Teens Trick-Or-Treating, I Mean Seriously Jesus Christ
Every year at this time, all the Halloween curmudgeons come out of the woodwork to whine about how trick-or-treating should only be for "the little ones" and how it is VERY BAD MANNERS for teenagers or even just "older kids" to go trick-or-treating. It's a thing many people seem to take great joy in policing and being extremely smug about. I always see loads of people on social media bragging about how they turn teenagers away when they come to their door, as if they are performing some kind of helpful service to the world. Why? I'm not sure. I proudly trick-or-treated well into high-school and had a fantastic time doing so, and I would never begrudge any other teenager that good time.
There are far worse things teenagers could be doing than dressing up in ridiculous costumes and going door-to-door in pursuit of Snickers bars. I know, because I did them.
It's become such a thing over the years that some areas have even started banning older kids from Halloween. Chesapeake, Virginia, instituted an ordinance that would send kids over the age of 12 to jail or fine them for trick-or-treating.
"If any person over the age of 12 years shall engage in the activity commonly known as "trick or treat" or any other activity of similar character or nature under any name whatsoever, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than $25.00 nor more than $100.00 or by confinement in jail for not more than six months or both."
This is some bullshit. You don't even get really good at trick-or-treating until you are at least 12. That's when you get to go with a huge group of all your friends, without a parental chaperone, get your strategies and maps together for targeting the houses that give out full size candy bars and avoiding the ones that give out bags of pennies, toothbrushes or Jack Chick comics. I loved trick-or-treating as a teenager. It was a fun, silly, exhilarating time -- and it didn't cost any money to do it (outside of whatever you needed for your costume). What's wrong with that? Why not be glad that they're having fun and that they don't feel like they're "too cool" for something like that? They're not hurting anyone. They're not going around robbing three-year-olds of their Twizzlers, so calm the fuck down. Three-year-olds probably can't even eat Twizzlers. [Ed note: Girl, meet a three-year-old they can eat THE WORLD.]
As teenagers, they might have some spare money to buy candy for themselves if they want, but it's not just about the candy, it's about the experience. It's about fun. Even if they don't dress up, because they decided to go last minute or whatever, give them a break. Ask them what they're supposed to be anyway, and maybe you'll get some hilarious answers. Pull the stick out of your ass and have some fun. It won't kill you.
People have been shitty about the KIDS TODAY ever since the advent of hills one could walk down instead of up both ways. Everyone loves to complain about how all the kids just stay at home doing social media to each other these days, instead of playing outside until the street lights go off or whatever. They act like there's something wrong with the kids themselves, as if they are simply not as good at being kids as all the non-kids once were, but this has less to do with them than it does with the fact that teens have been largely chased out of public life. What the hell else are they supposed to do?
I saw this happen in real time. It started in the late '90s with a push to get kids "off the streets" and to combat "loitering." We couldn't even hang out at local parks anymore without the police driving up to check everyone's IDs and kick out anyone who wasn't over 18. These days, even malls are implementing curfews for teenagers. Coffee shops became places for adults to quietly do their work rather than places for weird kids to gather and talk about all the poetry they're pretending to read. All the other shit we used to do is either illegal or absurdly expensive. Movies, live music, etc. -- even diners barely ever have bottomless cups of coffee anymore. If I were to try to live the life I lived as a teenager now, as an adult, I would be flat broke.
So just let teenagers have Halloween, ok? Let them get dressed up and have a stupid, silly, exciting night without parental supervision, that doesn't cost them anything other than their costumes. It's important to have those experiences for as long as you can because once you're actually an adult, there's no way you're getting away with it. Don't make them grow up so fast and then whine that they're growing up so fast.
And please, don't hand out bags of pennies. It's just cruel.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse