Friday, October 31, 2014
We are children for about 15 years, from the time we leave toddlerhood and start forming lifelong memories, to when we step away from our homes and into the adult world.
Given that decade and a half, a surprisingly limited number of specific memories of being a child stay with you. Or, to be precise, stay with me. Maybe you can reel off your childhood day by day. I couldn't carry on at length, for instance, about being 7. Maybe a flash of an image, a shirt I wore on my birthday. Maybe not even that.
But the weather report, of all things, sparked a memory so strong that I could see it.
The weather for Oct. 31, that is. As we all know: cold, windy, chance of rain. Lousy for an outdoor holiday.
I read the forecast—a tweet—and suddenly I was standing in front of my open closet, for some reason, on Carteret Court, in Berea, Ohio. The closet doors were open, I could see the pegboard inside the closet, and the green dresser that—could it be?—my father built inside the closet.
My mother was kneeling in front of me, zipping up my Mighty Mac coat. Brown corduroy, of course. A metal bar, kind of a T, on the zipper—very sturdy zipper those Mighty Mac coats had.
And I was aghast, horrified to my little single digit core, because it was Halloween, and the coat would cover my costume, and it all would be ruined. A year's wait wasted, the joy of escape, of running costumed through the streets, mitigated by this corduroy shell of parental concern. Happiness must evaporate in the morning sun, but misery rolls on through the years, unfortunately.
But I'm not writing this to dredge up my past. I'm writing this as a plea, to put in a plug for coatlessness. No kid ever froze to death trick-or-treating. And parents are supposed to trail kids nowadays—I certainly did, when my boys trick-or-treated. Though kids in eras past somehow survived without such close supervision. My father would no sooner follow me around as I went house to house than he would have driven me a friend's house, five blocks away, which I also did for my boys, routinely.
Anyhow, since you're there anyway, carry the coat. Let the kid ask for it. Or heck, let him go out without it—if he's cold enough, he'll come back for it. Or her, whichever. Then it won't be something you've inflicted upon the poor child, a shiver they'll be feeling whenever the last day of October drops into the 40s, as it sometimes will.
To be honest, I never remember, as a child, being cold outside, never, not once. Kids are immune to that kind of thing. They laugh at coats, and to force one over a carefully-chosen costume, it's something of a crime. No kid is going to put it to you that way, but it is true, and so I would rise to their defense.