Halloween Witch

by admin on October 31, 2011

I want to send someone to e-hell on behalf of my friend for using “manners” to harm to feelings of a young child. I have no problem correcting egregious behavior from children who are not mine, but as you may see, sometimes special considerations need to be made.

I have a friend who has a young child with apraxia — delayed speech. He is a bright and friendly little boy who is working very hard to learn to communicate, but he’s not there yet. This was the first year he was old enough to go trick-or-treating in his neighborhood. He had fun ringing the bell and holding out his bag while his mom said “trick-or-treat”, explaining his speech delay if necessary. One woman refused to give him candy unless he said, “trick-or-treat” for her. His mom said, “I’m sorry, he has a medical condition and isn’t saying any words yet.” The woman then closed her door in his face.

Let me repeat that: on being informed that a child had a medical condition, this woman closed her door in his face.

Luckily he was having enough fun that his mom just said, “Oooh, let’s go see what they have at the next house” and as far as he cared, that was the end of it. For my friend it took several days of gnawing anxiety about the treatment her son received, and of course, worries about her ability to protect him before she could let it go. It’s hard to believe a grown-up could put her own desire to hear “trick-or-treat” over the feelings of a little boy. 1108-10

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim October 31, 2011 at 5:46 am

This lady really needs to re evalute her priorities. I feel very sorry for your friend and the anxiety it put her through but she did do the right thing. Unfortunatly there will always be ignorant and selfish people in the world especially when it comes to treatment of special needs children. How do I know this fact? My own soon has a form of Aspergers that makes him delayed in his speech and motor skills at the age of 5 he tests at the level of a 3 1/2 year old. Even when adults are told that he has this condition and that he can not do what they ask or does not understand what they are asking they are still incredibly rude. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to harming a child. Some may not consider the feelings of small children saying they will never remember it. It does not make it right or excusable. The best thing to be done is to point out to the person that they are being rude and then promptly ignore them, or at least it has been for me. There is no need to worry about those people. As far as the ability to protect in the future now would be a good time to explain that not everyone is perfect and people are prone to rudeness and the best way to deal with them is to tell them that they are rude and ignore them. There are always good and bad people in life, unf. some have to learn about this fact earlier than others.
Good luck to your friend and tell her to keep her head up she isn’t alone in the fight.


Kathryn October 31, 2011 at 6:06 am

wow. What if he were mute? Or deaf, blind, in a wheelchair… where does she draw the line?


J's Mama October 31, 2011 at 6:52 am

My own little boy has delayed speech. He is receiving speech therapy once a week, but he still doesn’t communicate as well as he should for a 2 year old. I would be very hurt if someone did that to my little guy.

I think the mother handled the situation perfectly.


David October 31, 2011 at 7:05 am

Some people just don’t seem capable of compassion and understanding.


Anonymous October 31, 2011 at 7:48 am

What the heck? Who does that? I sincerely hope that woman never has an “imperfect” child. My dad is a pediatrician and when an office staff once called his developmentally delayed patients “freaks and retards” she was out the door. Being mean to kids, especially those who have mental delays, makes you a bad person.


AS October 31, 2011 at 7:56 am

Some people are just plain rude! I feel sorry for your friend, OP.

I love it how kids often don’t get bogged by rude behaviour and continue to enjoy.


Leigh October 31, 2011 at 7:58 am

Well, Halloween is full of witches! I’m sorry that she was classless enough to do that to a child.


Edhla October 31, 2011 at 8:00 am

I’ll bet dollars to donuts that it wasn’t that this woman didn’t care that the child couldn’t speak, she didn’t believe it to be true.

Depending on the generation and the mindset, some people have real bees in their bonnets about children who don’t speak up and ask politely for this and that. My niece is five- she doesn’t have any speech disorders but she can be very avoidant/shy, asking me to ask her grandparents for a drink, or a treat, or something. We are in the habit of telling her that if she can’t ask politely for herself, she cannot have. In a child without a disability, I think it’s an important part of growing up.

While I think this woman was rather mean, it’s not as if she was somehow obligated to give the child candy, so there’s that… I realise Halloween is a huge deal in the USA, but it truly is odd if you look at this as “so my friend and her small child knocked on a stranger’s door and that cow didn’t give the kid the free candy he deserves”!!

The thing that jumps out at me about this is that the kid didn’t care, but the Mom was devastated. As a disabled person, I remember as a child being upset because my MOTHER was upset by something someone said or did to me. I didn’t care personally, at least to begin with, but I figured “that didn’t sound rude to me, but Mum is really upset/yelling/crying, so it must have been bad (and it must be my fault)”. Kids have an odd way of looking at things. I ended up looking for a nasty second meaning behind EVERYTHING because my mother had basically ingrained the idea into me (unintentionally) that the world was full of snide or rude people who couldn’t wait to say awful things to me.

I’m glad he was able to enjoy his Halloween anyway.

Incidentally, while we don’t really celebrate Halloween here in Australia, I ended up with some children trick-or-treating here tonight. Uplifting tale of good etiquette: a mother and her young daughter, aged maybe four or five, arrived. Little one was apparently very shy but her mother told her if she wanted to trick or treat she had to knock on the door and ask for herself, with the mother a couple of steps behind her for moral support. When I asked if she liked mini Mars Bars her mother basically said “sweetie, you take whatever the nice lady gives you and say “thank you.”” I was impressed by both mother and daughter, particularly in light of the tweenaged hoodlums who knocked on my door next. I felt that THOSE treats were like… protection money.

Speaking of which, isn’t the alternative to “treat” to “trick”? According to the rules of Halloween, this woman’s house was fair game 😉


Jojo October 31, 2011 at 8:15 am

While I agree that the home owner was particularly cruel to a small kid, erm, aren’t kids supposed to do something to earn the treat? That doesn’t have to be speaking – it could be a bit of magic or a dance. At the end of the day, why should the person opening the door just dole out sweeties or gifts for no return?
I used to go out with my friends and we would sing a song together because it was expected that we would entertain the person we visited in return for a reward.
Isn’t it kind of tacky not to prepare your kid to work for their reward and just expect neighbours to dole out stuff? If he’s a bright, able little kid he can soon pick up a simple trick to do without words.


Harley Granny October 31, 2011 at 8:30 am

Oh how I detest people like this!
I was a preacher’s kid in a small town and my siblings and I ran into these people all the time.

One lady even went to far as to give everyone in our trick or treating group candy except for my brother and I. We were then preached at because it was sinful for US to be trick or treating…not the other kids….just us.

If you’re going to give out candy, give it out evenly or don’t give it out at all.


Chocobo October 31, 2011 at 8:55 am

I have no problem correcting egregious behavior from children who are not mine…

This story is exactly why one should have a problem with correcting other children’s behavior.


Cobbs October 31, 2011 at 9:16 am

Please do not walk your children up to a stranger’s door on Halloween. It is dangerous at worst and sometimes very “tricky” as the poster found out. Society must end this tradition. We teach our children, and rightly, not to trust strangers and then send these same children up to strangers’ doors to take candy. Not good. Have neighborhood parties. Have extended family parties. Do a “trunk” party at church or school. Never knock on the door of a stranger.


Amy October 31, 2011 at 9:38 am

Oh my. I’d have to seriously resist the urge to buy a dozen or so eggs and give that woman a Halloween “trick”.
How nasty.


Serenity S October 31, 2011 at 9:42 am

Wow! I think the woman who refused the young child candy because of his inability to speak was horribly cruel! Luckily the mom handled it well so her child didn’t even realize he had been treated poorly.


Erin October 31, 2011 at 9:43 am

That’s terrible. Trick-or-treating is about kids having fun, not grumpy adults demanding to have their own way. I’m glad the little boy had a good time anyway!


WildIrishRose October 31, 2011 at 9:46 am

Wow. That gives a whole new meaning to “witchery.”


kudzuqueen October 31, 2011 at 9:47 am

I feel her pain. My son is non-verbal autistic and there are times when stunned silence is the only response I could muster to some of the behaviors that so-called adults have shown when I have explained his condition. Halloween has been very difficult for us for that same reason. I have actually had people cross their arms and wait for him to speak after I explained his condition. One parent even told me that autism is just an excuse for bad behavior and if I would just spank him he would snap out of it. Astounding. My response was to smile and say, “Yes I can see it has done wonders for you.” Fortunately at the time my son was too young to grasp what she was saying. Hugs to your friend and her amazing child.


Lucy October 31, 2011 at 9:50 am

What the H-e-double-hockeysticks is wrong with people??

Admittedly, I sort of take this personally because my brother had a similar problem–basically, he could think way faster than he could formulate sentences, and had a hard time saying what he wanted to say–but, even if that weren’t the case . . . I’m speechless. No pun intended.


Sarah October 31, 2011 at 10:00 am

Wow… Just wow.


Jilly October 31, 2011 at 10:10 am

Wow… Happy Hallowe’en. ‘Tis the season to be a witch, I suppose. He was being polite, he wasn’t being grabby, he wasn’t saying, “Gimme candy!”. The mother even explained. That is not correcting behaviour, that is expecting people to follow your own personal set of norms. I mean, what if the child was simply shy?! You can’t and shouldn’t shame someone into this. If you want to be a grump – don’t hand out candy, jeepers creepers! 🙂


Cupcake October 31, 2011 at 10:24 am

That is just shocking, what a horrible, horrible woman.


PNJ October 31, 2011 at 10:26 am

This Mom has a ton of class to just walk away. I would have been seething. How could anyone close the door on a child on Halloween? If a child shows up at my door, they get a treat. I don’t care if no one taught them to say “trick or treat” or they don’t have a costume. I don’t know their homelife or personal circumstances, so I would never punish a child during something that’s supposed to be fun.


NotCinderell October 31, 2011 at 10:29 am

I don’t understand the idea of making people jump through hoops for candy. People turn away kids not in costume, or kids who don’t say trick or treat…if you are that bothered by the actions of your trick-or treaters, turn off your light and don’t give candy. Otherwise, clip a few coupons and get the candy on sale, and just give it out to everyone who shows up.


alex October 31, 2011 at 10:34 am

that is honestly insane. Good on your friend for not going crazy in that women’s face as I would have most definitely wanted to do. Actually, I cannot say without a doubt that I would not have gone back to her house to discuss manners with her, but that would be rude on my part.


Mary October 31, 2011 at 10:38 am

This just breaks my heart. There is no excuse for an adult treating a child like this especially after the mother informed the woman of the child’s delay. Kudos to the boy for not letting it put a damper on his spirits. Years ago when my son was small there was a woman in the neighborhood that “required” each child to “perform” a “trick” in order to receive a treat. She would demand some sort of performance such as “jump on one foot for 15 seconds” before she would give a treat. It was very irritating all around. When she demanded my son perform a trick he just laughed, said “no thanks” and walked away without the candy. She called down the driveway, “come back, it’s ok” but to no avail, we let. As we were leaving another group was approaching. When I informed them of the woman’s requirements for earning candy they moved on down the street without a second glance. We never went back to her house in later years either.


many bells down October 31, 2011 at 10:44 am

What a charming lady. Does she also slam the door on Deaf kids and infants?


Me October 31, 2011 at 10:50 am

Wow, just wow. I am glad to see you’re friend handled it very well.


Carol October 31, 2011 at 10:51 am

That’s insane. Speaking as a mother of a child with special needs, I’d be so angry if that happened, I’m not sure I COULD just walk away. (Although I like to think I’d be as mature as your friend was and just back off)

I can’t understand the mindset that would cause someone to shut the door in a child’s face.



Pixie October 31, 2011 at 10:53 am

What a horrible, horrible lady. I am truly outraged. At least the child didn’t take it to heart. But seriously, what is wrong with that lady? I am finding it hard to collect my thoughts enough to keep clean language.


Cat October 31, 2011 at 11:03 am

I wonder what she would have done if you had said, “He’s a mute and cannot speak.”? Next year, both of you go dressed as mimes and see if she gets it. Her behavior was on a par of someone closing a door on a child because of his race or ethnic background.
I was once threatened with the police because I, at age 12 (and not a mature 12 but a very young 12 as my birthday is in August), was trick or treating. To me, 12 was still a child and I intended to stop when I reached 13. One of my elderly neighbors disagreed with me to the point he said he would have me arrested and I’d better run home because the police were on their way.


Cat October 31, 2011 at 11:08 am

Sorry, I meant that his Mom should do those things. Or you go with them and all dress up. Maybe numbers would help.


Halloween Hillary October 31, 2011 at 11:26 am

Is it wrong for me to hope that when the little boy becomes more fluent that he has some choice words for the neighbor beyond “trick or treat”?


spartiechic October 31, 2011 at 11:55 am

This is just plain cruel. After being informed that the child had speech delay issues, she should have, at the very least, given him a piece of candy and said goodbye. I would have probably said, “oh, well then, let me say it for you, ‘trick or treat.’ I can’t wait until you visit me next year and can give it another try.” Then I’d have given him some candy and sent him on his way to the next house.

The only time I don’t give candy on Halloween is if I have a teenager who comes to my door without a little brother or sister and isn’t wearing a halloween costume. They, at least, have to put in some effort for me to give them some free candy.


Jenn50 October 31, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I’ve been worried about this myself this year. My 5 year old daughter is autistic and has a severe speech delay. Most in our neighbourhood are aware and accommodating, but there’s always at least one nasty surprise for us. And many people don’t seem to understand that just because she can’t talk, doesn’t mean she doesn’t understand what you’re saying about/to her, and it HURTS.


AnonMom October 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Sadly the letter writer’s friend’s experience isn’t unique. In my many years of escorting children out to T or T, I have come across of a few nasties like that. All of my children had speech delays and 2 of them had a dose of shyness tossed in too. It took a lot for them to utter “trick or treat” loud enough for anyone to hear. One particularly nasty neighbor refused to give candy unless they said it loud enough for him to hear. I just said “No thank you” and guided them away. We never went to his house again. Another neighbor held the candy over their bags and glared until the kids looked up, then she said “You HAVE to say THANK YOU FIRST!!!!!!” My children always said “Thank you.” and “Happy Halloween” before leaving a home, but usually AFTER getting their treat. We stopped going to that house as well.

I’ve been on the receiving end of some horrifying trick or treater rudeness, so I can understand being annoyed at the gimme pigs and their parents who act terribly, but I still don’t punish the kids or punish every other child who comes to my door, based on the mis-deeds of someone who came before. If I were that bothered by the rudeness or not having children say things in the order I want, then I wouldn’t hand out candy.


Hemi Halliwell October 31, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Wow. I guess someone has to be the witch on Halloween.


Stace October 31, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Cobbs –

Teaching ‘Stranger Danger’ has done kids more harm than good for generations. That’s something we as a society should work to end.


Kali Ravel October 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Speaking of which, isn’t the alternative to “treat” to “trick”? According to the rules of Halloween, this woman’s house was fair game 😉

This is the absolutely worst thing about Halloween in the US. People have no right to expect treats from people, and certainly not to vandalise their homes if they don’t comply.


Twik October 31, 2011 at 12:45 pm

One poster said “While I think this woman was rather mean, it’s not as if she was somehow obligated to give the child candy, so there’s that… “. While I agree she’s under no legal obligation, I think there is a strong social obligation that if you agree to take part in a tradition such as this, that you do not discriminate. If she were choosing to give candy only to ToTers of a given race, she would be seen as a racist. If she refuses to give to handicapped children, she can be seen as a bigot.


Shalamar October 31, 2011 at 12:47 pm

What a nasty piece of work! I’m sorry you and your son experienced that, OP. You handled it with a lot more poise than I would’ve done.

That reminds me in a way of neighbours we had when I was small. I was an exceedingly shy child, and these neighbours insisted that the kids they knew personally had to do some kind of performance before getting their special bag of goodies. I would’ve gladly foresworn the goodies, but my dad was equally insistent, so I had to literally sing for my supper (or candy, as the case may be). Moral of the story: if the child can’t say “Trick or treat” or is too shy to do so, DON’T harp on it. This night is supposed to be fun for the kids, after all.

(That said – if the kid is able to say “Trick or treat” and then doesn’t say “Thank you” for the candy, I get extremely irked. 🙂 )


Skyline October 31, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Wow. Just … wow. That woman is a miserable cow.

However, I have an idea for the little one. I once had laryngitis for two months over Christmas, which was a problem since I worked retail. I had little cards I held up with the most common things I said and customers found it amusing. My suggestion: make a little sign for the lad to hold up. One side says “Trick or treat!!” and the other “Thank-you!!”


Goldie October 31, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Amy, I thought of eggs too as I was reading this post! (That would be bad manners, of course.) I really don’t understand. No one was holding a gun to that woman’s head, making her turn the porch light on and pass out the candy. For financial reasons, I chose not to pass out the candy this year, so my light will be off. Last year though, I participated, and gave to everyone: the teenagers, the infants, the parents, the kids who came around twice… who cares? it’s just candy.

Personally, I see trick-or-treating as a fun way to meet your neighbors and their children. To insult people that you will be seeing around your neighborhood on a regular basis, sounds a lot like shooting yourself in the foot to me.


behindbj October 31, 2011 at 1:10 pm

I sit on my stoop in fair City and give out candy to anyone who would like some candy. Part of the joy of Halloween is interacting with the little ones who would like candy. I said “interact” – not require a five-minute speech from Hamlet. I have had little ones with signs that say “trick or treat” because they were too shy, or non-verbal, or whatever. When they approach, I generally speak to them and they either say “trick or treat” or hold up a little sign or have it on their costume somewhere (think a little Dracula, holding his cape out to the side and seeing it written on the inside) or just nod and smile when I ask the really shy ones if they would like some candy.

The whole point of the night is to get candy from my bowl into little kids’ bags (ok – and big kids – gronw-ups get candy and teenagers get candy (those not in costume get less awesome candy, but whatever…candy’s cheap)). And there are indeed those awesome kids who do indeed have a trick ready that has to do with their costume. The little Harry Potter with his levitation spell and floating feather come to mind. For Pete’s sake – GIVE THE KIDS CANDY, smile at the little ones, call it a night after a certain time and go to sleep. This is not a complicated holiday.


Lilac October 31, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Halloween should be fun for kids. Granted they should be polite and appreciative but requiring a performance (that is not normal in the US), threatening kids with the police, or withholding candy is crazy. If an outside light is on there is an understanding that candy is available at that particular house. If you are offering candy, it should be offered equally to all well-behaved kids. Also–I may be in the minority but I have no problem whatsoever if older kids trick or treat provided they are in costume and are acting responsibly. Who cares if kids are 15 or 16? More power to them if they are young enough at heart to still do something innocent and fun like trick or treating. Anyone who is the parent of a teen knows that they are still really “kids.” I love it when I see older kids in costume laughing and having a good time out with the little ones. And some of the costumes are pretty creative!


Kitty Lizard October 31, 2011 at 1:20 pm

When I was small I had a severe stutter. This was fun on Halloween, when we went door to door. There
was always one comedian who felt they had to imitate me when I tried to say Trick or Treat. It wasn’t funny when the people at the door imitated me, and it was even less funny when my “friends” imitated it
back. It got worse in Catholic school when the nuns “cured” it by hauling me up in front of the class and
made me read aloud. It got so bad I literally became non-verbal and had to go to intense speech therapy for close to 5 years before I could speak coherently again. To this day, if I get really stressed
out, the stutter comes back slightly.


Gee October 31, 2011 at 1:24 pm

That is so cruel! I can maybe understand if the woman didn’t know that the child had a speech delay, but to do so after being informed of it is unbelieveable.

I have a son with Asperger’s syndrome (on the milder end of the Autism spectrum), so he has a speech delay as well. He’s four, but his speech and behavoir is around a 2-year-old’s level. This is why we only go trick-or-treating at houses of friends and relatives. They all understand.


Kat October 31, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Edhla – you’re right, the kid wasn’t owed candy, but based on the OP the woman was clearly participating in trick or treating. Not sure how it is in Aussie, but in my part of the world what you do is turn on your outside lights if you’re giving out candy. If you’re not, you leave your lights off. So it’s not like people are marching up to random doors demanding treats.

As far as what you mentioned about avoidant/shy behavior – again, you’re right to point out that this is an important part of growing up. But it’s for the kid’s parents to instill that in the kid, not some random homeowner on the trick or treat route. Parenting other people’s kids is not acceptable in my book.


Wink-n-Smile October 31, 2011 at 1:30 pm

In America, the standard is that if the porch light is on, anyone in costume can expect a treat. They don’t have to “earn” it by performing. Their costume is the price. The better the costume, usually, the more treats you get.

My brother once had a costume so good that people were giving him fistfuls of candy, while they gave the rest of us one or two pieces. We didn’t mind. We were proud of his costume. It was really neat!

However, if you’re not going to give out candy to trick-or-treaters, just turn off the porch light. Nobody bothers you, and you don’t insult them.

What she did (or any others, who insist a child say the words, regardless of the reason why the child cannot), is really wrong. So, trick then? I do NOT condone throwing eggs. That’s property damage. I prefer something along the lines of hanging up some sort of noise-maker, like some cheap wind-chimes. And if anyone complains, well, it was a gift! That’s not a crime.


SJ October 31, 2011 at 1:32 pm

What if he was just shy? I would still give him candy even if he didn’t say trick or treat.


Wink-n-Smile October 31, 2011 at 1:35 pm

If they’re not wearing an obvious costume, I always ask. Sometimes, they’re dressed as a character, and I simply don’t recognize it.

Then again, there are the costumes the Addams kids wore, in Addams Family Values. They looked perfectly normal. It was scary.

I just love seeing all the costumes, and I don’t care how old you are. I enjoy giving out the candy to anyone who is polite.


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