Parenting

Which Halloween responsibility do you prefer?

Ian wonders whether it's better to hand out the candy at home or take the kids out trick-or-treating.

Photo: MariaPavlova/iStockphoto.com

One of the toughest things about my job is missing big family events and occasions.

This week, for example, I’m covering the World Series in San Francisco and Detroit.

Before leaving on my trip, I tried to explain to my daughters that if this series went past Game 5, that I wouldn’t be home in time for Halloween.

Our five-year-old daughter Lily — who is clearly unaware of office politics — looked at me and said, “Daddy, tell your boss that you have to be home for Halloween.”

If only it were that simple.

I do want to make it home in time for Halloween on Wednesday because it’s one of the most fun nights on the family calendar. Besides, if I’m not home in time, how will I steal my kids’ mini Twix bars while they’re sleeping? I don’t want to come home four days later and be stuck with choosing between candy corn and Glosette raisins.

The one tricky thing about Halloween is figuring out which parent goes out trick-or-treating with the kids and which one stays at home to hand out the candy. So this week, I wanted to delve into the topic to see which task parents prefer doing on Halloween night.

I should point out that if it’s cold or rainy on Halloween night, it’s pretty much a given that the dad will go out trick-or-treating with the kids. For my wife to even consider going out with the kids, the conditions have to be just perfect: At least 10 degrees Celsius, no wind and zero chance of precipitation. If the weather is not an issue, then it’s often a toss-up as to which parent will stay at home and which one will hit the road.

I usually despise being the parent stuck at home on Halloween night for two reasons:
1. I never know how much candy to hand out. If I start handing out four or five mini-bars to every kid early on, what if we run out of candy? And if I only hand out one or two mini-bars to the kids, will they think I’m a cheapskate? It’s a very delicate situation and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

2. I hate having to make an obligatory comment on each kids costume when they ring my doorbell. I have to be pretend to be scared when a kid shows up dressed as a T-Rex. I have to say, “Ohhh… well aren’t you just precious!” when a girl shows up as Tinker Bell. Of course, there is always that awkward moment when you don’t know what the kid is supposed to be and you have to ask, “So what are you dressed as?” And then the little kid is too shy to answer because they didn’t think this was going to be a Q&A with a stranger.

Going out with the kids isn’t always preferable either, as there many issues with that assignment as well:
1. You are constantly adjusting their costume.

The following quotes are often used by a parent who is out taking the kids trick-or-treating:
“Slow down, or you’ll trip over your cape.”
“Your mask is crooked.”
“You know what? Just give me those fangs and I’ll hold them. I can’t understand a word you’ve said for the past 45 minutes.”

2. You also have to battle with your kids about the weather. Your son will insist that Spiderman doesn’t wear a winter jacket. Your daughter will say that a vampire loses a lot of credibility with a hat and mittens. It can be a real struggle to get your kids to be dressed warmly.

3. The other drawback to going out with the kids is that once you get home, you now have to hand out the candy because your spouse is sick of answering the door. And if your doorbell rings any time after 8:15 p.m., it’s pretty much a guarantee that you will open the door to find some teenagers in ripped jeans and backwards baseball caps just asking for candy.

So which Halloween assignment do you prefer: Staying at home to hand out candy or going trick-or-treating with your kids?