anne mikolay 2012 120While in the Halloween store the other day, I saw a lot of little kids perusing frightening costumes, seemingly with their parents’ approval. I must admit...I don’t get it. Why would a parent want their preschooler dressing as a chainsaw toting serial killer or the grim reaper? Preschoolers shouldn’t even know about such stuff of nightmares. Halloween should be simple fun for the little crowd; there’s plenty of time for gore and fright fest when they are teenagers.

Apparently, Halloween has changed a lot since I was a kid. Back in my day, there were no Halloween stores displaying gruesome decorations and costumes. Your mom got your costume at the Five and Dime, or she made it herself. In these days of bigger is better, a handcrafted outfit might be construed as not good enough or the consequence of inadequate income or position.Today, it’s all about impressing other people, taking the best selfie, going viral. Somehow, good, clean fun has gotten lost in the shuffle.

Tell me: where is the fun in putting a hockey mask on a four year old and sticking a machete in his hand or putting fangs in his mouth and painting blood on his face? Where I come from, the only little vampires that are cute are the ones that know Big Bird and teach kids to count. You may call it much ado about nothing, but allowing impressionable children to step into the macabre before they possess a clear definition of good and evil is misguided and ill advised.

Let kids be kids! Sooner or later, Reality will burst their bubble, and they will learn, as we did, that life can be cruel and scary. Let children enjoy their candy coated world for as long as they can! A child’s Halloween should be about plastic pumpkins filled with M&Ms, little boys in Star Wars gear, and little girls dressed as Elsa or Anna from Disney’s smash film, Frozen, not about horror films, nightmares, and monsters in the dark. Steer children away from the gruesome. Sit down with them and enjoy simple pleasures of the season: watch Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin, carve or paint a jack-o-lantern, make paper ghosts and masks out of paper plates. Forego a haunted hayride and take tiny tots to a pumpkin patch where they can run and play. Create your own family traditions that your children can pass down to their own kids. As a child, I loved to help my mother fill the Halloween candy bags for the neighborhood children. Not a Halloween passes that I don’t remember the candy kisses, the orange slices, and the nonpareils scattered on the kitchen table as my mother instructed me on exactly how many pieces to slip into each bag. Perhaps such an activity is too tame for our present thrill-a-minute society, but I’d rather create memories my kids can smile at rather than fearfully run from.

You can’t stop the hands of time, folks; why help them move any faster? For the younger set, Halloween should be uncomplicated fun, sans fear or any psychological twist. As adults, it is our responsibility to seize every chance we get to direct children toward goodness and light. Halloween is a perfect opportunity to do so. In time, life will impose its own darkness; we have no need to help it along. Let kids be kids!