When he finally shuffled home, guided by the glow of the flashlights and the streetlights, Robin was sweaty, red-faced, and exhausted. Batman was no longer at his side but was still nearby. He too was moving much slower than when the evening began. But he had a little extra sugar in his system, and it was temporarily fueling his reserve tank.
The Dynamic Duo had not been battling Gotham’s goons on this particular October night. Rather, they had canvassed our corner of Austin, Robin’s chunky nineteen-month-old legs conquering curbs like never before while Batman led the charge to each and every doorbell—even at the houses with no lights on. Better to receive no response to your piercing “trick-or-treat” challenge than to bypass what may be a candy windfall intended only for those superheroes brave enough to shrug off a lack of exterior illumination.
Now even Wonder Woman was slowed by the night’s frenzied pace. Well, that coupled with the burdens of her red high-heeled boots and her now quite prevalent pregnant belly. The unborn child only slightly camouflaged beneath Wonder Woman’s patriotic leotard undoubtedly would be bionic. The child’s father, after all, was Superman, who tonight was simply and yet oh-so-cleverly disguised as the nerdy but affable Carson Hooks. I’m sorry; I meant Clark Kent.
October 31 of last year was our first all-out Halloween as parents. Davis wanted to be Batman, so we all became superheroes. And we went door-to-door non-stop for what seemed like the entire evening. We accumulated way more candy than any two toddlers should consume before their next Halloween. Not even Batman and Robin could shoulder such loads of sweet goodness. They had to rely on the assistance of Clark Kent and Superwoman and her Invisible Plane (baby jogger). Batman, his muscle-rippled costume sweat-glued to his torso, repeatedly expressed his eagerness to do it all again tomorrow night. Robin merely murmured something incomprehensible as he tried to keep his head up and his eyes open. He had no idea why anything he had just seen had taken place, but he had run directly into the night’s flame of costumes, candy, energy, and excitement like a moth donning a yellow cape.
Experiencing Halloween this time with young kids, I was reminded why this holiday is so much fun for the young and the young-at-heart. Using your imagination not only is allowed, it is definitely encouraged. It’s the great nationwide costume party and for a day, you can be whoever you want to be. Batman can march into his preschool classroom unabashedly, knowing he will be in the company of Spiderman, pirates, and princesses. A very pregnant Wonder Woman still attracts plenty of double-takes, but those aren’t near the number of questioning glances she might spawn patrolling the neighborhood any other night of the year.
Perhaps more importantly, with very few restrictions, you’re allowed to just go. Go to as many houses as your little legs will take you. Run up and down the block screaming “BATMAN!” Sample your candy haul, and then run and scream some more. Introduce yourself to the cowboy crossing the street and race to the next house together. Keep going and going until you have to hitch a ride home on the Invisible Plane / Batmobile. When taken to full throttle (and that’s the only way our boys approach just about anything), Halloween runs laps around Thanksgiving and its family football games or Easter and its egg hunts to capture the crown of most active holiday. Sure, there are “turkey trot” 5K’s and Labor Day half marathons but, for the littles in our lives, nothing compares to the Halloween energy outpouring. They basically chart their own haphazard course and then it’s off on a sprint-marathon hybrid powered by a sugar binge.
Us parents, we almost just have to take a step back for the night and let it ride (within reason, of course). We have to know when to pick our battles with candy suddenly on the menu and the regular bedtime an afterthought. But we don’t have to worry about wearing them out. We only have to decide whether to have the argument over whether the costumes have to be peeled off before bed. Might as well let the superheroes sleep in their superhero beds in their full regalia.