How Halloween will make you a better parent, guaranteed

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If there’s one thing parents fear more than anything else, including having their child kidnapped by wolves, it’s being told they’re a bad parent. So relax. You’re a good parent. (Most of you.) And I’m here to tell you that you have the opportunity ahead of you to make yourself an even better one.

HALLOWEEN, baby! Halloween is a time to teach your children about moderation and healthy eating and respect for others and HA yeah right. Halloween’s a night where you hurl candy at sugar-jacked kids in costume! NO parent can screw up Halloween without actively trying to do so. And you, my friend, are going to be a champ this Halloween. You’re going to throw a jet engine on the orange-and-black Lamborghini that is this holiday, and you’re going to RULE.

The goal of parenting is to find the exact midpoint between behavior that will get your kids taken from you by the state and behavior that will keep them in therapy for the majority of their adult lives. Few days in the year offer this opportunity in more stark relief than Halloween, so let’s consider the lessons you can impart.

You can manipulate them into wearing whatever costume you want. Look, $30 is the breakpoint for costumes. Every dollar cheaper is a minute less that it will last before falling apart after purchase. Every dollar more is a minute longer before your kid gets bored with it completely. So forget what they want; dress ’em up how YOU want. However, a word of caution: what I said about actively screwing up Halloween? Dressing your kid in blackface and/or as a noted woman-beater would pretty much do that, so don’t:

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You can teach them the lesson that more power=more power. Sure, anyone can jab a steak knife into a pumpkin, carve out a couple triangles, and be done with it. Why not get more creative? Use a Dremel to carve that pumpkin like you’re wielding a dentist drill. And when Halloween’s done, don’t just chuck that old pumpkin into the trash. Detonate it in a field!

You can demonstrate that the world is full of terrors just waiting to devour children. Pro tip: a chainsaw with the chain removed is every bit as terrifying. Plus, kids running headlong toward a front door for candy are easy marks for the routine jump-from-the-bushes scare tactic. Sure, a fright like that would detonate the heart of anyone over 20, but kids are young, they’ll get over it … physically if not psychologically.

You can teach them techniques of efficient planning and energy allocation. Sure, that neighborhood with the gargantuan houses and expansive yards might be handing out actual live puppies and iPads, but in the time it takes you to hit one of those McMansions, you can knock off four smaller houses. On the flip side, apartment complexes seem like a good way to amass an armload of candy in a small area, but beware of the idiot twentysomethings who will hand out last week’s lasagna. It’s risk management, market inefficiency exploitation, and algebra combined, and it beats the hell out of Common Core.

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You can teach them important lessons about running with the crowd in a free society. It’s not tough, people: you go to the store, you buy a sack of candy, you hand out said candy. Nobody wants toothbrushes, baggies of pennies,  homemade popcorn balls, or especially just-trying-to-help! toothbrushes. As a parent, it’s your bound duty to teach your kids that while creativity and trailblazing are indeed noteworthy and respectable, there are times when trying too hard to stand out from the crowd just makes you a jerk. Along those lines…

You can teach your child that property damage is wrong. Unless the house is handing out carrot sticks. And then, just make sure you don’t get caught.

You can steal candy under the guise of political education. If your political leanings are of a leftward slant, you can demonstrate a share-the-wealth strategy by dipping into your child’s haul. If you’re more rightward, you can demonstrate the evils of an overreaching government by, again, dipping into your child’s haul. Either way, you’re getting the goods. Bonus points if you make your kid fill out a 1040 form AND hand over 40 percent of her loot.

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For as long as the stash lasts, you gain absolute dominion over  your child. Yes, yes, I know, you’re not supposed to let kids have sugar and you’re supposed to regulate their intake and blah blah blah. Screw that. Kids respond to candy like no other stimulus, and you now have absolute puppet-master power over the little monsters. Want candy? Make your bed. Want candy? Do your homework. Want candy? Get up there and clean the gutters. It’s like using the Force, and it never ever ever gets old.

So there you go. Executed with even the tiniest bit of effort, Halloween becomes one of those meaningful bonding experiences where the kids blitz themselves into joyful oblivion with adrenaline and sugar, giggling and shrieking, then collapse drooling atop a mound of hoarded candy. Is there anything more American than that? I say no. Happy Halloween, you damn good parent you.

Jay

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