Author Topic: Dear Abby on Trick-or-Treating  (Read 16587 times)

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norrina

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Dear Abby on Trick-or-Treating
« on: October 23, 2012, 09:55:26 AM »
My apologies if this has already been posted; I didn't see another thread but that doesn't mean I didn't miss it!

10/23/2012, first letter: http://www.uexpress.com/dearabby/

On Halloween night 2011, the letter-writer planned her family's dinner for 5pm in order to be finished eating before TOTing began. 3 siblings from down the street came by to TOT while the letter-writer was eating, and she told them to come back later. The children's mother than called the letter-writer to tell her she was wrong to send the children away.

ETA (since this was a Dear Abby column after all), that Abby told the letter-writer that the children's mother may not have wanted them TOTing after dark, and the letter-writer should have been "welcoming" and given the children candy when they called.

Every neighborhood/city that I have lived in has had set TOT hours, so maybe that is coloring my view, because I don't think the letter-writer was in the wrong to tell the children to come back later. I also think that the children's mother was out of line to call the letter-writer, regardless of whether there were TOT hours and/or whether her children were TOTing outside of those hours. No one is obligated to participate in TOTing, so the mother had no right to call the letter-writer and complain if she opted not to participate.

Other thoughts?
« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 09:59:15 AM by norrina »



Bexx27

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Re: Dear Abby on Trick-or-Treating
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2012, 09:58:25 AM »
It's not the LW's job to teach other people's children manners. If she didn't want to be interrupted she shouldn't have answered the door. Since she did answer, why not just give them candy? It wouldn't have taken any additional time.

I also don't think 5pm is an unreasonable time to start trick-or-treating.
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these. -George Washington Carver

Sharnita

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Re: Dear Abby on Trick-or-Treating
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2012, 10:01:52 AM »
It depends to me.  Like you, I've tended to live where there are set hours, though I think 5 has been within those hours and definitely daylight hours are included so her demand that they "come back when it is dark" seems out of line.  I also wonder, was her porch light on?  If so, I think contributed to the situation.  If I were the mom I probably wouldn't call her, we probably wouldn't go back and depending on the tone it might cool the relationship.  I do wonder if she had previously seen them and indicated an interest in seeing their costumes or something?


It's not the LW's job to teach other people's children manners. If she didn't want to be interrupted she shouldn't have answered the door. Since she did answer, why not just give them candy? It wouldn't have taken any additional time.

I also don't think 5pm is an unreasonable time to start trick-or-treating.

Good point.

camlan

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Re: Dear Abby on Trick-or-Treating
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2012, 10:08:56 AM »
Definitely, the mother of the kids shouldn't have called to berate the letter writer.

My town has set trick-or-treating hours. This year they are from 5-8. In fact, most places I've lived, the very littlest kids are out around 5 pm--it's not dark and it's not as cold as it would be later on. I'm always ready for TOTers by 5--the candy's in a bowl, the bowl's by the door, the porch light is on. But I probably won't be stationed at the door until about 6, when the crowds start coming by.

The letter writer seems to think that no one should TOT until dark. But she should check what the rules are in her city/town.

Although I do think you can TOT too early. Would 4 pm be too early? People aren't home from work, for one thing.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


WillyNilly

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Re: Dear Abby on Trick-or-Treating
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2012, 10:13:31 AM »
Set hours?  How does that even work?  I've never heard of set ToT hours...

I do think the LW was ridiculous and in the wrong though.  First off, in my experience many kids, especially younger ones, ToT while its still light out or just at dusk, once its full dark they lessen and after 8 its almost none, after 9 is very rare (and unlikely to yield a door opening so impractical on the part of the kids).

All kids know that there are clues to look for - decorations, porch light on, etc to see if a house is welcoming of ToT'ers.  All the LW needed to do was take down her door decoration, close her blinds and not have the porch light on and not answer her door.  Later, after she'd eaten, she could put out the decoration, light her light and open her blinds with lights on inside and kids would know she'd answer.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 10:15:07 AM by WillyNilly »

Jones

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Re: Dear Abby on Trick-or-Treating
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2012, 10:15:37 AM »
ToTing hours. We don't have a set time in my town, but if we did, 5 PM would be within that time. The tiniest tots get started around 5, and the last of the big ones come by before 8:30. I've never had one after 9:30, and I think that latest one was on a Halloween weekend, rather than weeknight. The little kid numbers drop sharply once dark hits, there are always church/school/city sponsored safe events they disappear to with their parents until school night bedtime hits. The bulk of costumed visitors seem to show up on the streets between 5:30 and 6:30.

If the LW didn't want to hand out candy, she should not have answered the door. Mom shouldn't have called to berate her, but I can see the conversation as such:
TOTer: But mom, I know you said we had to be home by (sunset) but Neighbor Lady made us come back after dark! That's why we were late!

In which case Mom should have asked Neighbor Lady what specifically was said before making a judgement. "Scolding" another adult is a bit far either way.

Zilla

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Re: Dear Abby on Trick-or-Treating
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2012, 10:18:04 AM »
What I don't get is that in the time it took for her to tell the kids to please come back later, she could have given each kid a candy and closed the door.  Unless she didn't have the candy ready, then why even answer the door at all.  Just finish eating.  It's reasonable to think, "Halloween night, I didn't invite anyone and the doorbell is ringing.  Must be early t'treaters, let me not answer since I don't have the candy ready."
 
But do I think she was rude for telling them to come back later?  No.   The mom was rude to call and chastise the letter wiriter for it.

camlan

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Re: Dear Abby on Trick-or-Treating
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2012, 10:22:18 AM »
What I don't get is that in the time it took for her to tell the kids to please come back later, she could have given each kid a candy and closed the door.  Unless she didn't have the candy ready, then why even answer the door at all.  Just finish eating.  It's reasonable to think, "Halloween night, I didn't invite anyone and the doorbell is ringing.  Must be early t'treaters, let me not answer since I don't have the candy ready."
 
But do I think she was rude for telling them to come back later?  No.   The mom was rude to call and chastise the letter wiriter for it.

The letter writer wanted to teach them a lesson--not to TOT before dark.

Then the kids' mother calls and tries to tell the LW she's been rude.

I did wonder if there was some sort of history between the two women, since they seem determined to point out the other's failings in parenting and answering the door.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


Thipu1

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Re: Dear Abby on Trick-or-Treating
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2012, 10:23:00 AM »
Most TorT in our neighborhood is done in the afternoon because the YMCA has a party at 5 and there's a neat parade after dark.    Also, most kids seem to concentrate on the merchants along 7th Ave.  It's considered safe and the merchants seem to enjoy it, too.  Many of them are outside their shops in costume and dispensing treats from 5 gallon tins. 

I certainly don't think that 5 pm is too early, especially when the children are small.

The LW could easily had given out a few treats early but that could snowball.  If other kids see the children receiving treats, they're likely to start heading over. 

Still, I think the mother of the children was a bit out of line.  What's an extra piece of candy or two? 

Witty Username Goes Here

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Re: Dear Abby on Trick-or-Treating
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2012, 10:27:21 AM »
We don't have set hours for trick-or-treating.  And, we expect to get interrupted during dinner on Halloween.  The only time trick-or-treaters annoy me is when the house is clearly dark (we turn off all lights, including the porch light, when we're done for the night - usually about 9:00) and they ring the doorbell anyway.  Other than that, we don't care what time you come.  We're actually just happy to have trick-or-treaters.  Our last house, we would get 100+.  Here, on a good Halloween we'll get 10.  We still buy 20 bags of candy anyway. :)

lowspark

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Re: Dear Abby on Trick-or-Treating
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2012, 10:29:47 AM »
It's not the LW's job to teach other people's children manners. If she didn't want to be interrupted she shouldn't have answered the door. Since she did answer, why not just give them candy? It wouldn't have taken any additional time.
I also don't think 5pm is an unreasonable time to start trick-or-treating.

This is exactly what I was going to say. If you answer the door, then give them candy. If you don't want to give them candy, don't answer the door. Simple as that.

We don't have set hours for TOT here, kids just go when they want. But mostly it runs from about 7 to 830 or so with the possibility of a few stragglers up to 9. So really, not before dusk. Five is pretty early and if someone knocked on my door that early I would definitely not be ready, so I probably wouldn't answer. I turn on my porch light if when I'm ready and turn it off when I run out or by about 9.

The mom calling her to compain though? That's pretty SS. I'd be willing to bet the kids ended up getting plenty of candy that night so what's one house more or less?

Sharnita

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Re: Dear Abby on Trick-or-Treating
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2012, 10:31:38 AM »
My guess is that mom wasn't complaining that they didn't get candy but that they were treated like they had done something wrong.

audrey1962

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Re: Dear Abby on Trick-or-Treating
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2012, 10:35:10 AM »
This is exactly what I was going to say. If you answer the door, then give them candy. If you don't want to give them candy, don't answer the door. Simple as that.

Agreed. And in my neighborhood, you turn your porch light on to signal that you are offering candy. No porch light means no candy. (Yes, the lights are on if it's still light out and when you approach the house you can tell if the light is on or not). So if your neighborhood is like mine, don't turn on the porch light until you're ready to offer candy.

Zilla

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Re: Dear Abby on Trick-or-Treating
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2012, 10:35:40 AM »
Op might want to add to her post that it was intentional for the mother to turn them away to teach a lesson.  Especially adding this bit: 

I told them to come back later, when I wasn't eating dinner. I wanted to teach them that they shouldn't overextend the holiday and disrupt other people's lives. An hour later I received a call from the boys' mother scolding me for sending them away.

This changes my view considerably.  Taking the OP's post at face value I think the complaining mom was overreacting.  However with actually reading the letter (thought the OP was thorough) the mom was indeed rude. 
 

norrina

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Re: Dear Abby on Trick-or-Treating
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2012, 10:36:58 AM »
I'm appreciating the discussion.

I'm just going to respond quickly to those posters who have indicated their city doesn't have set hours and/or they don't know how set hours would work. The cities that I have lived in, TOT hours have started at 6pm, and ended between 7:30pm and 8:30pm, depending on the city. There really isn't any way to enforce the hours, but most TOTers seemed to respect the set hours voluntarily.

As far as how I've always "advertised" my house as welcoming TOTers, the most decorating I've ever done is the occasional Jack-o-Lantern. Typical in my neighborhoods has been light on = welcome, light off = please don't call.