Virginia Lawmakers are the Trick-or-Treat Grinch

I’m a mom and I read mom-articles and, like all of you, Facebook tracks my every move—through technology and perhaps a teeny bit of hocus-pocus—and over the last several days I’ve seen pop up a news story in which children over the age of 12 are subject to arrest if caught trick or treating. At first, I ignored it because that would be ridiculous if true, must be The Onion, keep scrolling. Then it popped up again. And again. Begrudgingly, I gave in to FB’s algorithm and read it.

Hold my candy corn!

According to the article, “In Chesapeake, the law states, ‘If any person over the age of 12 years shall engage in the activity commonly known as ‘trick or treat’ or any other activity of similar character or nature under any name whatsoever, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than $25.00 nor more than $100.00 or by confinement in jail for not more than six months or both.‘”

Really? Do they have to check IDs at the door? Does one ask for proof of age before or after the chorus of “Trick or Treat!!!”? What’s the etiquette there? Does your child who is 13 years old and one day not get to go trick or treating with their friend who is 12 years old and 364 days? What if my ten-year-old is just really tall?

Didn’t YOU love candy as a middle-schooler and dear God why are we so intent on stealing joy from children? Why has childhood become so achingly short? At the ripe old age of 13, they only have like five minutes left until they have to pay bills and be miserable with the rest of us—let them barter their Laffy Taffy and PayDay cast-offs in peace.

And when did we become so hyper-focused on monitoring children’s bodies, their whereabouts and their parents’ choices? Some states have actually created laws whereby children are allowed to roam free without parental supervision—they’re called “free range” and the smart ass part of me is like “wait, are they poultry or children?” and the nostalgic part of me just longs for a simpler time. The days when those quirky Tanners, slap bracelets and running around all the backyards on my block until dinner time—was all I knew. We weren’t “free range,” we were kids.

The mere existence of this law necessitates that someone actually monitors the trick-or-treaters; the not-babies-and-not-yet-grownups who for just one night get to be WHOEVER they want with a fun wig, wild mask or crazy heels. This monitoring necessitates the actual policing of our children, which in reality is already happening at an alarming rate as proven by viral videos of officers handcuffing small children, girls being sent home because of alleged dress code violations, and school resource officers here in my great home state of SC slamming a teenage girl to the ground who “mouthed off” in the classroom.

This law gives further license to the BBQ Beckies of the world.

…and that ridiculous lady who called the police on a little girl selling water and then hid when she realized someone was filming her. The sanctimommies will run wild and frankly, the police have way, way better things to be handling that evening.

At its most benign, this law is telling our kids to abandon their childhoods before many of them are ready—and at the very worst is permission to act out state-sanctioned ‘isms of all kinds.

Y’all, we have the opportunity to be on the right side of history here, to say NO THANK YOU to party-pooper lawmakers, the naysayers and the haters—and just let children be children until the day their pumpkins—poof!—turn into three-piece suits, mom jeans and sensible flats.

This year, on October 31, if you have a youngster at your door gleefully begging for candy, no MATTER their age, go with it. By throwing individually wrapped bars of glucose and joy into their bags, you are giving them permission to be a kid, even if for just one more night.

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