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Trick-or-Treating, New York-Style

Yesterday Maddie went trick-or-treating for the first time ever, and spent several days beforehand in breathless anticipation. I’d picked up her costume a month ago and refused to let her see it, knowing she wouldn’t be able to refrain from begging to wear it and knowing that if she wore it she’d be bored with it by Halloween. But we’d talked about going trick-or-treating, and she was excited and keyed up when the big day arrived.

There are a couple reasons she was looking forward to it so much: first, my kid loves to dress up. We’ve got a big box of my old costumes in the playroom and she’ll dig into almost every day, dressing up herself and whoever else she can sucker into the game with her. Second, Maddie had never had candy and knew she was going to have some on Halloween. She didn’t know what it was, but had read about it enough in her Corduroy Halloween book to think she’d like it and couldn’t wait to try the stuff for herself.

halloween_001.jpgSo the morning of Halloween Maddie popped up out of bed, saying she was ready to eat her breakfast and get to trick-or-treating. Her costume – that of a flower ballerina – was lovingly laid out by her chair, having been oohed and aahed over for a long time the night before. Maddie scarfed her breakfast down and leapt into her costume, chafing at the wait that then ensued until it was time to meet up with her friend Naomi.

This being New York City and Maddie being only two years old, Ingrid and I decided to do our trick-or-treating during our regular park time rather than at night. New York’s scary enough during the day, trust me. And since we were begging during business hours, we’d have to take our kiddos to a busy street to score some candy. So rather than going house to house, we went business to business, doing our trick-or-treating in true New York style.

Maddie’s stops included several bodegas – New York’s version of the convenience store, you’ll find at least one on every block – as well as a nail salon, Korean Noodle shop, several Columbian bakeries, two Empanadas joints, a couple of bars, a liquor store, and a few bagel shops. Maddie may have been a Halloween novice but she quickly caught on, screaming every time she left the store, “I got some candy! This is fun!”

Since Cora was with us in her stroller, I pretty much stayed out on the sidewalk as Ingrid shepherded the girls into each venue. After about four stops I stuck my head in to watch and quickly realized I had forgotten to teach my daughter Halloween etiquette. “I want candy!” she said loudly to the poor Korean cook. Flustered, the man held the bowl down to my daughter who proceeded to grab candy with both fists before running out the door without a backwards glance.


Once Maddie was back out on the street I pulled her aside for a quick manners tutorial, explaining the need to say “please” when asking and “thank you” when receiving, and that if the bowl was offered you only took one piece of candy before moving on. Maddie was pretty good about following orders, only taking more than one piece of candy if urged by the proprietor, and always shouting “Thank you!” over her shoulder as she ran outside.

How was her haul? I have to say, trick-or-treating local businesses rocks. You can see the calculation in giving out candy to toddlers with moms in tow: owners realize that the more generous they are to the kids, the more likely the moms are to frequent their business. The bodegas were a sure hit; if they hadn’t stocked up on Halloween candy they simply pulled a full-sized packet of M&Ms off the counter for the girls. The donut shop gave each girl a donut hole, while the bagel place allowed them to choose the flavor of their bagels. Unfortunately for Mommy, the miniatures the liquor store gave out were Baby Ruths rather than Bailys, but whatever. By and large the best places, though, were the Columbian stores. Big fistfuls of candy were de rigeur – either that, or actual cash was dropped into the bag by store patrons. Yep, my kid came home with a total of two dollars in her Halloween bag.

After a quick sorting out of all the choking hazards, I gave Maddie her bag back and allowed her to pick two treats for the day. She chose the donut hole and a small Twix bar. Since this was her first bit of chocolate, I sat back to enjoy the show.

“Mmm,” she said, taking a tentative bite of the bar. “What is the brown stuff on the cookie?” “That’s called chocolate,” I said gently, knowing I’ll always remember this as the moment my daughter met one of the best things on earth.

Maddie studied the bar.

“I think I like chocolate,” she said slowly.



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