It was a good year, and I met all the kids I've glimpsed up and down the street, as well as as quite a few from surrounding streets. My first visitors, right at 6, were my neighbors across the street. Their little monkey has just learned to walk, and he was toasty warm and utterly content in his costume. No interest in the candy, but great delight in holding onto the house and standing up, followed by four full steps toward the stairs before coordination gave out.
For those who worry too much about helicopter parents - I had lots of unescorted older kids, unescorted kids in groups with at least one older kid, and most of the mothers or fathers who came up to the door were with kids younger than six, or single female children. One packs of zombies and grim reaper(popular this year) had a mom watching from halfway down the driveway, and two dads with flashlights out in the street. I felt like teasing one dad that his jacket was not doing a good job of covering his holster, but settled for a grin and a wave.
Quite a lot of little monsters later, I found two women escorting a girl, all three in matching medieval fantasy princess costumes. I asked the narrowed eyes under the glitter-laden hair "And what are you?" Her - probably mother and probably aunt beamed.
A very grumpy voice responded, "I'm a ghost!"
I nodded sagely. "A very sparkly ghost. You have fun!" After inspecting me carefully to see if I was making fun of her, a small smile cracked through the scowl.
Eight o'clock came and went, and other porch lights on the street turned off. I kept mine on, because this is when the fun really begins. Now you get the children who are out of breath, running hard to hit every last house and stretch out the fun until the very last second of trick or treat is over. Kids with masks abandoned, costumes pulled up and unzipped for speed and cool air under all the fake fur and extra layers, panting out "Trick or treat! Thank you!" at the door.
About 8:30, as I was contemplating whether it was safe to wander off to the basement, the doorbell rang. One last pack of kids, accompanied by two moms, had clearly bailed out of a van where dad was patiently waiting. As I proffered the bowl of candy to "trick or treat!", the oldest boy looked at me with a hopeful expression as the others studied the candy. "One or two, ma'am?"
It took a second for me to understand, then I grinned. "How about three?"
"Really! As long as your mom doesn't mind." I looked up to catch a very motherly grin. With a look like it was early Christmas, they actually didn't dive into the bowl. They paused, considered, and weighed their options, moving m&m's, snickers, reeses, and such around to carefully consider when they could take three whole pieces of candy.
Then there was a cry of utter delight from one of the youngest girls. "At last! A twix!" She picked it up with the biggest grin of the night. "Mom, I finally got a twix bar!"
I considered. "Hmm. Let's see if there's another in here." We stirred the candy bowl, and one of the boys put a milky way bar back as another snickers bar came to light. "Wait a moment, let's check the rest of the bag." I brought out the quarter-full mixed candy bag, emptying it into the bowl.
"Oh, there's another one!" She glowed with happiness, and another boy hurriedly swapped something as well. "Thank you!" Belatedly, the rest of the pack joined in on the "thank you" chorus, though one muffled by the chocolate just crammed into their mouth. Mom #2, Mom#1, and I shared a grin, and I bowed to them. "You're welcome. Happy Halloween!"
All in all, a good night for getting to know neighbors, and getting called ma'am and told thank you a lot. The kids will be all right.