“Most of all — HAVE FUN!”
Halloween is the day America test-drives all the fears that it may adopt for the other 364 days of the year. Taken from a list of Halloween Safety Tips put out by a midwestern town this year, these include:
The idea that your neighbors want to murder your kids.
The idea that no children should ever venture outside without an adult.
The idea that you have to plan everything in advance, lest impromptu fun lead to doom.
The idea that you should always think ahead to the worst-case scenario. For instance, in the list below, parents are told to review “Stop, Drop and Roll” with their kids, in case their costumes catch fire. (On more optimistic note, kids are also instructed to take along a second bag in case their first bag breaks.)
Another rule: Only trick or treat between 4 and 6 p.m.
On and on the tips list goes, including lots of advice about kids’ behavior, as if without these instructions they would be total delinquents:
Don’t trample people’s flowers. Always say thank you.
Believing that kids might actually be pretty decent little humans is considered too giant a leap of faith to take.
It’s not that any single one of these suggestions is terrible. It’s that a giant list of Do’s and Don’ts turns a normal, joyful, and pretty safe childhood activity into a big, detailed undertaking that must be prepared for like a battle.
And of course once that undertaking is deemed dangerous, parents must organize and supervise it.
So a night of kids owning the neighborhood has been moved from the file labeled “Kids at Play” to the one labeled, “Kids at Risk.” (This file is also bulging with items formerly labeled, “Kids After school,” “Kids at the Park” and “Kids Playing On Their Own.”)
If you want an anthropological glimpse of how America annually expands its fears, get out your magnifying glass and here you go (sent by reader Joette Barnett).