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My Tween's Too Old for Halloween

Photograph by Getty Images

All kids love to trick or treat, right? Until they don't. This day has been coming for some time for my 12-year-old. And it's probably a good thing. By next fall, he'll likely be one of those 6-foot-tall teens who will get shooed off our neighbors' doorsteps.

But as the mom, I can still be bittersweet about this. It's one of those thresholds to cross, like when tweens no longer get excited about writing wish lists for Santa or rush to check under their pillows to see if the tooth fairy left them any money. It's not like Halloween is the biggest holiday in our house.

During my son's first Halloween — when he was a 3-month-old baby and I was a sleep-deprived new mom — it didn't even occur to me to put him in a costume. Until I pushed my stroller to the park the morning of October 31, and saw all the other newborns bundled up in their sweet pea swaddling or teddy bear suits that I realized what a big deal Halloween had become.

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The next year, I went all out: I scoured websites to find the perfect fuzzy monkey costume and hosted the entire playgroup at my house for a party. Like any overprotective first-time mother, I didn't let my toddler actually eat any candy. This is the kid who never acquired a sweet tooth. He'd stick his face into the plastic pumpkin and inhale the sweetness and proclaim, "It smells so good!" For all he knew, it was just a giant bowl of milk chocolate scented potpourri.

It's a quiet letting go of the fairy dust of childhood.

Over the years, he figured out those wrapped goodies were edible and developed a taste for Reese's peanut butter cups and Kit Kats. During the elementary school years, putting on a costume and running around the neighborhood at night was a thrill.

This year, my younger son has his costume all picked out. Or rather, my husband and I have spent hours poring over websites and driving him to every pop-up Halloween shop in town. The older one is not ready to give up on Halloween completely, but shrugs and thinks it would be fine to wear the skeleton suit from last year.

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Like many things in the tween years, it's a quiet letting go of the fairy dust of childhood and a brief respite before I need to worry about him driving around late at night on October 31.

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