Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Halloween Dangers Primer for Parents

Halloween is an incredibly scary time for vigilant parents.  There are so many real dangers out there-dangers that threaten to annihilate all that we hold dear as modern American families.

I'm NOT talking about razor blade in apples, poison in candy bars, germs on apple bobbing apples, or masks that obstruct our children's views forcing them to walk into oncoming traffic where they will meet their violent demise. I'm not even talking about allergic reactions to face paints or future dental caries from all the Snickers, Smarties and Twizzlers.

I'm talking about the new media and the helicopter parents, poised to ruin everything we hold sacred.

This year, I have been especially tuned in to the media.  Maybe I have more downtime, maybe I am online more, trolling parenting blogs and other outlets.  I dunno.  But it seems to me that every group has their problems with Halloween.  Before I get started, please know that I mean no true, heart-stopping, offensive, hurtful disrespect.  If you happen to see yourself, or someone you love, in this post, please do not berate me with scathing comments.  All I ask is that you read the post for what it is-a blathering rant by a mom and educator that really has no major problems (other than health).  And, I am sick of people making everything fun, not.  We are constantly being protected from ourselves, and I am NOT OKAY WITH THAT.  It ruins my fun.  If I want to fry a bunch of ants with a can of AquaNet and a lighter, that should be my prerogative. And, if the can sets aflame and exploded into my face, well, my bad.  That's it. I won't sue the manufacturer of either the lighter or the hair spray.  I will merely serve as a warning to others.  And, I might get a Darwin Award. Which actually would be quite an accomplishment. I hear the after-party is UH-MAYZE-ING.  I digress.....again.  Man, that happens a lot.

First, let's tackle the media.  This bunch of asshats (thanks, Jen, for the word) has been trying to ruin Halloween since I was young.  I remember the first Halloween they fucked me over. I was all set, ready to go out with my friends (and probably followed by a partially sober adult) and gather up as much junk food as possible.  I planned on sneaking a few pieces on the walk.  Then, I would put any full-size bars into my costume.  The rest would be picked over by all the partially-sober adults, and I would be stuck with a baggy of raisins, pencils, Dubble Bubble and Sixlets.  This crap would lay around my bedroom floor until I was grounded, where it would become my salvation. 
Instead, the Media RUINED IT.  They started talking about all the dangers of going to strangers' homes, all the possibilities of poisoning.  Not to mention all the pedophiles that waited for me, ready to shove me into their van and have their sick and twisted way with me.  Surprisingly, my normally sane mother (you're welcome, mom) fell victim to their rants (really, mom????) and she, AT THE LAST MINUTE, told me no.  NO.  I was STUNNED.  As a concession, she ran up to Thrifty's, and bought me a couple $1 bags of candy (Boston Baked Beans, and Butterscotch Discs) to assuage my total devastation.  Now.  Let me straighten one thing out for y'all.  If you ever decide to COMPLETELY RUIN a holiday for a child, DO NOT give them CANDY REJECTS to make up for it.  This was not a $2 candy rectification.  This was more of an "All Expense Paid Trip To Hershey, PA" kind of fix.  (Now you know why I'm in therapy, mom.  Yeah, that's right. This shit just got REAL.) My strange aunt, the one that hoards everything she has ever been given, including flats of Tab soda and more pairs of elevator shoes than you can shake a disco stick at, managed to rustle up some vintage candy corns she got as a consolation prize when she visited the set of the Ed Sullivan show. Perfect.  SO, I got the answer the door (another concession I am STILL bitter about-"Hey, honey.  I know I won't let YOU go out tonight, but why don't you dress up anyway, and answer the door when all your friends come by. Only one Smartie, each, though. We don't want to run out.")
This was all because of you, Media.  I think y'all owe me $20 weekly copays for life. Let's see.  I'm *ahem* 39.  I've been going 9 months, times 4 visits a month.  36 visits, times $20 a visit, is $720.  Plus the rest of my life......I should live to about 85.  That would be 46 more years, times 52 visits a year, which would be $1400 a year, times 46 years, plus the first year of $720, carry the 9, divide by the square root of who-the-fuck cares...let's call it an even Mil.  I take cash or cashier's checks, Media.

You all doubt me?  Why don't you wander on over the Snopes.  Here, I will even reference this shit for you...
Poisoned candy
Tampered-with candy

OK.  Let's tackle the abductions, that will almost certainly happen on Halloween.  Because, if I was a kidnapper, I would TOTALLY use Halloween to window-shop.  I mean, where else would I get to see the kids I want to snatch, but on a night where they are all out, giddy with excitement, AND with large bags of candy????  Oh, wait.  I may have freaked some people out, because that might be EXACTLY what the kidnappers are thinking.  Shit.  Well, I figure I am pretty safe.
My kids?  Well, Princess would get snatched, because she is soooo cute.  But, she talks.  A LOT.  Not unlike her mother.  And she is a curious child.  So the kidnapper that tries to nab her better bring LOTS of duct tape for her mouth. And, she is incredibly squirmy, so hog-tying would be a good skill.  Oh, and she junk-punches.  She has a bad-ass uncle or two, that have taught her some skills for the future years of dating ahead of her.  So, really, I am pretty sure any potential kidnapper will be either:  sick of her jabbering, get poked in the eye by her crazy-sharp elbows, or will be singing soprano.  Monkey Boy?  He's my size now, so I figure he's fairly safe.  And he's QUICK.  At least faster than his friends, which is all I care about if his group is attacked by potential kidnappers.  (Great, now all his friends' parents are going to read this, and make them pick slower friends...sorry, Monkey Boy). Halloween is a time to get out, talk to the neighbors, see all the cute costumes, spy on other parents to see how they transport their alcohol so they don't have to keep going back home. (Red wagons seem to be the best bet, but I'm not opposed to a backpack for hikers (Camelbak, I think) that will hold 60 ounces of jungle juice dripping into your mouth through a flexible straw-thingy. All I'm saying is shop around-check out your options.) We have met some super cool people on halloween. And, we know who has the cutest dogs in the neighborhood, and who has the nicest bathrooms.  Yep, my kids have asked to used the bathroom.  And when Princess was younger, she would walk into most of the homes and hug the person with the candy. She's super-appreciative like that.

What else ruins Halloween?
Oh, that's right.  Costume Police.  The ones that warn us about all the dangers of costumes.  They are:
  • Too dark-cars can't see them
  • Full of chemicals-no face makeup or plastic items because of bpas, pthalates, and such
  • Too long-make sure they can't trip your child who will then wander into traffic
  • Too obstructed-no masks!!!!The masks obstruct their views, once again forcing them into oncoming traffic
  • Too inappropriate--well, OK.  I concede on this one.  I really don't want my daughter to dress up as a slutty candy corn, a slutty witch, or a slutty unicorn. 
  • Too flammable-especially with all those candles in pumpkins, one false move, and WHOOSH.  Your child, up in flames.
The hospitals don't help, either.  Yes, I went there.  Fuck the doctors.  If I hear of another ER offering to x-ray candy bags, I'm gonna scream. 

Then, you have the parents.  These guys are the scariest of all.  I'm a full-size bar kinda house.  Yes, I know, I know.  I wrote an entire post about how I don't let my kids keep their candy. But, I let them have some, and then they get a crappy toyStop judging me. I'm the one who's right, here.
Let's talk quality.  Halloween is about candy.  Yummy gooey candy.  Full-size bar houses are rare, and the word on the street spreads fast.  We all talk-there is an amazing network of gossip that circulates on Halloween, spreading from group to group.

I am so sick and tired of my kids getting:
Apples-with or without razor blades in them
Gift certificates for an ice cream cone
note pads

Halloween is about candy.  Too much candy.  It is not about hating God, it is not about being safe, it is not about reflective tape.  It is a revolution of sorts, for children to truly let loose, and parents to approve of that.  The only admonishments we should hear should be: "Hey! No more Peanut Butter Cups.  Oh, okay, but only if you split it with me."

This post is really starting to piss me off, so I will finish up with my idea of the safest possible Halloween. First, the costume:

Now, the environment...

First, the house decor.  This is what you need, and why, in a helpful chart.  Feel free to print this and put it on your fridge.  But put it up high, so that the corners of the paper don't cut your toddler. And use tape, not magnets.  Magnets are a safety hazard:

Safe Item
Hints and Tips
Plug-in Pumpkin
No open flames to set children afire-CAUTION-put plug-in pumpkin in a window, rather than on the porch, so no one trips
Other decorations
Make sure they are happy, not scary. Children could have nightmares from scary pictures. Also, Wiccans will get mad if you put up images that make them look green or warty. Make sure all witches are hot, and smiling.
If you have any cracked concrete, repair before Halloween. If you cannot, turn lights off to reduce liability, and pretend you are not home.  Better cone off the walkway too, in case children ignore the lights off, which us adults know is the international sign of “Not Being Home”
Make sure there is a 1:1 adult to child ratio.  It is IMPERATIVE that children DO NOT outnumber adults.  And, older children ARE NOT substitutes for appropriate supervision. And, make sure all adults are sober, and in good shape. No fatties, no drunks.
All candy must be carefully inspected before ingestion. Not on the walk, but at home, in full light. Better yet, wait for the sun to come up. You just can’t be too careful these days.
Make sure each child has a flashlight, as well as several glow sticks. Nothing says “death” like a zombie with glow sticks. Safety first, I always say.
·         No apple-bobbing. Trench-mouth, herpes and thrush are REAL, people.
·         No gummy candies or other partially chewy items. These things get lodged in people’s throats every goddamn day.
·         No blindfolds.  Everyone knows this is the easiest way to wander away from the party and walk into oncoming traffic on a freeway
·         No face-covering costumes-adults know people every day that flirt with a bumble bee, finding out the next morning your husband went as a Clown instead of the Bumble Bee costume, and now you’re pregnant
·         No bowls of “brains”, “guts” or “eyeballs”.  They are filled with fecal matter, from the guy in front of you that didn’t wash his hands. Ever.

I think that just about covers it.  If I missed anything, PLEASE, for the LOVE OF SAFETY, leave a comment, so others can be made aware.

If you want to come with me and my kids, we are going with a group of people.  We will be the ones coming from the scary over-decorated house that smells like burning pumpkin. You will know it is us by the open containers of alcohol, and our complete disregard for crosswalks.


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