Hiking tips

A few Halloween tips for dads

The officially sanctioned annual neighborhood candy extortion festival (aka Halloween) is almost here! The kids have been talking about it for two months now, but most dads probably haven’t given it much thought. I’ve been doing this candy bar thing for a while now, so I’ll help you out. Here are some tips for dads taking their kids to the neighborhood.

It’s Halloween night, so let me sympathize with you first. I am sorry. Yes, there is definitely a Word Series game on TV right now. Yes, it’s definitely your favorite team. No, your children do not plan to return within a reasonable time.

Once you can get over this and are resigned to your fate, it pays to be prepared.

Bring a walking stick. Loose dogs, drunk teenagers and insane criminals are all known to be more active than usual that night. A stick was a reliable problem solver for Teddy Roosevelt and it will serve you well as well.

Consider bringing a backpack. Because one of your children will trip and fall and need a bandage, or one of your children will die of thirst two blocks away and need water, or one of your children will bleed from nose and will need one of those nostril stuffers (that’s one thing). They may not all happen, but then again, they probably all will.

Take out the glow sticks. Kids will have fun with them, but they’re great for keeping track of kids once the sun goes down, and an added safety feature runs through neighborhood streets.

Scan the street in advance. It can be a long night regardless, but it will be even longer if you spend the night walking the streets with no porch lights listening to the kids complaining about it. You need to see at least seven porch lights on on a street if you want to take a trick or a treat. It rhymes and is pseudo-mathematical so you know it’s good advice.

Bring a flashlight. Because one of your children will lose a shoe, or one of your children will drop all their candy between two houses where there is no light, or one of your children will have a nosebleed and need from one of those nostril stuff (I’m telling you, that’s one thing).

Separate the group. Start together so the big ones can show the little ones the ropes, but once the little ones are done (it happens fast), take a toilet break at home and take the older ones around the neighborhood. Once they are 7 or 8 years old they can cover a lot more ground and go into a lot more houses. But don’t despair. In my experience, their eyes are always bigger than their ability to carry their candy bag and that will be the real limiting factor in their sleight of hand.

Which brings me to my final piece of advice: don’t carry their candy bag. There are good life lessons here. Plus, the sooner they tap, the sooner you’ll be back to catch the final innings of this World Series game. Happy Halloween!

Harris and his wife live in Pflugerville with their six sons. Please send your comments or suggestions for future sections to[email protected].

Caleb Harris