My 11-year-old son has been a little extra cuddly lately. My son who isn’t typically cuddly.
With my daughter, I know what this means. It means that something is going on in her life that she isn’t particularly proud of or she’s experiencing some bullying or peer pressure to try things she shouldn’t.
So, I ask all the right questions.
“How are things in school? Made any new friends? How is David doing? Troy? What’s the weirdest thing that happened this week? What made you laugh out loud today? Did you help anyone today?”
I sit. Waiting. Hoping all of his troubles pour out.
I push as far as I think I can push without him figuring out what I’m doing.
“Mom? Can I go play xbox?”
And off he goes.
This goes on for about a week. I’m stymied. And then, in the middle of snack yesterday, he says, “Mom? Do you think I’m too old to Trick-Or Treat?”
I want to scream “NO!” and cuddle him in my arms and tell him to treasure every single moment that is still his childhood. But I can’t. He’s a middle-schooler now. He’s my tough guy who has been too cool for my hugs and snuggles for awhile now.
But it all makes sense now. His 10-year-old brother is fired up about his zombie costume. He’s been talking about it for weeks. While my other son watches from the side lines.
“I’ll just be a bank robber. It’ll be easy. I’ll wear all black. A ski mask and paint a dollar sign on a pillow case,” he says non-nonchalantly.
“Do eighth graders trick or treat?” he muses.
He started middle school this year. He’s moved from being on top to the bottom of the school food chain. He’s intimidated by everything all over again. What to wear. What to eat for lunch. What to share with your mom.
And whether to hold onto one of the last pieces of childhood.
When I was a freshman in high school my friends and I had a sleep over on Halloween. The plan was to watch scary movies, stuff our faces with pizza and giggle into the wee hours.
“We should go trick or treating!” someone said. I looked around nervously. I was among the youngest of our group, We were all on the swim team together and there were sophomores present. What would they think?
“That’s a great idea!” A sophomore shouted. “We can all go as swimmers!”
Not a hugely original idea, but everyone loved it and we raced around, grabbing what we could from my house and then going to other girls’ houses to scrounge up more swim suits, caps, googles and warm ups.
Despite our fun-loving attitude and our polite thank yous, about 1/2 the time we were not well received.
“Aren’t you a little too old for this?” A little old lady (she was probably 45) asked. One man actually refused to give us candy.
About 1/4 of the time, nothing was said but with the reluctant handout, the sentiment was understood.
And the rest of the time, we had warm welcomes, light-hearted comments about our “costumes,” well wishes for our upcoming League Championship and lots of candy.
We had fun, despite the nay-sayers. We laughed. We let loose. We stuffed our faces. We treasured and embraced the last days of what was still our childhood.
“No, sweetie,” I said to my cautious-confused son. “You are NOT too old to trick or treat.”
“But how will I know when I am too old?” he asks. I can see the wheels spinning, wondering if that day is just around the corner, coming much sooner than he is ready.
“You are too old when you can afford to buy a whole pillowcase full of candy for yourself,” I tell him.
He jumps off the stool with a big, goofy grin on his face, happy with my answer that seems oh-so-far-away.
And we just squeezed one more Halloween out of his childhood.