Hey, Jerks, Stop Making Halloween Too Scary For My Kid

halloween scary kid halloween scary kid

Dear All of You People Who Think It’s OK to Make Halloween a An Actual Scary Holiday,

Look, I get it, Halloween means different things to different people. Some of you love to get into the gore, the horror, the spooky, scary thrills of Halloween. To each their own. I don’t necessarily understand your nightmare mind, but I do respect it. Sort of.

Me, I like Halloween activities like making caramel apples, going to pumpkin patches, sipping cider and living my best basic white bitch life. But if subjecting yourself to night terrors is your cup of tea, drink up, baby. Go to all the haunted houses your heart desires. Stay up late into the night watching slasher films. Wear that gorey costume to your adult Halloween party. Just don’t bring that nightmare fuel near me, and definitely don’t get in my kid’s face with that scary stuff while she’s out trick-or-treating this Halloween.

I can’t believe this actually needs to be said, but Halloween doesn’t give you permission to scare the crap out of my kid. I don’t want to spend another Halloween night heading home early because my daughter is crying inconsolably after being purposefully frightened by a goddamn adult who should know better.

Every year I’m floored by the people who think that Halloween gives them a free pass to scare my kid without her consent. As if anxiety is the price she has to pay to get a few fun-sized candy bars and Dollar Store pumpkin-print pencils.

Sure, some kids like getting scared. My older son actually enjoys getting spooked in our neighborhood’s haunted houses. My daughter, though, not so much — and I know she’s not alone. Last year, her holiday came to a screeching halt when a fake spider jumped out at her from beside the candy bowl at a neighbor’s front door. This month, someone in our area has posted black and white horror movie faces hidden in the trees along his fence line. And they aren’t at my eye-level; they’re at my third-grader’s. She’s the one pointing out the creepy images she doesn’t want to look at on our daily walk to school. I mean, seriously?

As Halloween approaches, my daughter is becoming an increasingly volatile mix of excitement and anxiety. And it really sucks, because she loves Halloween. Loves to dress up. Really loves the candy. But it’s taking all she’s got just to work up the courage to even go trick-or-treating again. Every night at bedtime, she rehashes her fears. What if those scary camouflaged people jump out of the bushes again? What if the neighbor tricks her into going near the jumping spider like last year? Can we avoid the whole street — maybe change our route to school until November — so we can steer clear of those god-awful horror faces in the trees?

Am I a wet blanket? Maybe. That’s fine. But it comes down to this: Whether or not kids subject themselves to the creepy, heart-pounding “fun” of Halloween should be their choice, not yours. I don’t care if it’s “supposed” to be a spooky holiday, stop being an a-hole. No one’s saying you can’t have your brand of Halloween joy. Like I said, have at it. Hang that red-eyed cackling banshee from your bedroom door if that’s what floats your boat. Just, please, refrain from scaring kids who are already overstimulated and on edge. Enjoy the scary stuff on your own time — and let our mini-humans have this one night to get some free candy and run around in their favorite character costume. Is that really so much to ask?


The Exhausted Mom Stress-Eating All The Halloween Candy

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Gemma Hartley is a freelance journalist and author of Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women and the Way Forward. She lives in Reno, Nevada with her husband and three young children.