Take It or Leave It


For the majority of children “Trick or Treating” is an opportunity to get their hands on a large quantity of a severely limited resource.

If your family was like mine, candy was both a metered and an elective provision. The fact that my parents didn’t grow up eating candy whenever they wanted strongly influenced their decision to raise me the same way.

These kind of things tend to run in the family.

It’s my experience that the typical kid gets about 1 hour per year to get their hands on as much candy as they can.

This is probably why they don’t spend much time at your door.

From the knock, to the “Trick or treat”, to the possible “Thank you”, the average kid is on my doorstep for less than 30 seconds.

Kids, for the most part, also do not have a discriminating palate when it comes to candy. If they are told that something is candy, they eat it. I’ve seen a kid put a Bit-O-Honey into their mouth, say “yuck” and then finish it off.

Last Halloween I had a kid defy both of these stereotypes.

It was about a quarter-till-nine and I had half-a-bowl of Caramel Apple Pops and a handful of Fun Size Snickers to give away. The Trick or Treaters had started to dwindle and at 9 P.M. our Cul De Sac goes lights out.

I decided I’d get rid of the Caramel Apple Pops and finish the Snickers myself.

When the door bell rang, I opened up to find myself staring down at a disheveled, yet clean, lone pirate. Except for his Columbia Sportswear jacket, he was period correct. He was probably 9 years-old.

I held out the bowl and told him he could have as many of the CAP’s as he wanted.

He said, “Ummm…” and looked up at me with a face that displayed an obvious disdain for my smooshed up combination of brown and green confection.

We stared at each other for a matter of seconds.

He didn’t know about the Snickers.

It was starting to get awkward.

And chilly.

He had a jacket on.

I wasn’t wearing shoes.

I caved.

I begrudgingly offered him a Snickers, to which he responded, “Don’t like Peanuts”, and then wandered back down my driveway. I wasn’t offended that he didn’t want my candy as much as I was shocked that a kid had turned down candy in some form.

I walked away from a few doors myself as a kid; families giving out Bags of Pennies or Baby Carrots surely saw the back of my head, but I never turned down sugar, even if it was something lame like an after dinner peppermint disc.

Grabbing at every opportunity for Candy was a result of my family limiting the opportunities I had to get it.

When you don’t have many opportunities, you find yourself “striking” whenever an “iron is in the fire”.

I’m guessing that my nautical visitor not only had access to what he wanted whenever he wanted it, but that his refusal to participate in things that don’t suit his palate was probably one of the contributing factors to his late night solitude.

Picky kids are less accommodating, and they tend to struggle in large groups.

I’ve found myself in this situation before, I once drove to the beach in a different car than my friends so that I could listen to a new Depechemode CD.

As good as that CD was, It couldn’t make up for the fact that I looked like a donkey getting out of a car alone.

Pursuing my palate meant that there were times that I did things by myself while everybody else spent time together. It also demonstrated that I was pretty sure that I could get a group of people together whenever I felt like it.

The problem with this type of thinking is that the more often we indulge our palate at the cost of people, the less likely it is that we will be able to get a group together in the the future.

Telling everybody else that we’d prefer something specific, instead of time spent with them, has a way of diminishing their desire to be around us.

It’s the equivalent of turning down a bowl of candy only to discover that the last porch light has gone out.

Which, not coincidentally, is what happened to our lone pirate.

As I watched him amble up the darkened street I wondered if he was headed back to a home where the porch lights anticipated his return, or had been turned off because his family preferred to go to bed rather than wait up for him.

Because this sort of thing runs in the family doesn’t it?

As this year’s fall season launches I’m already thinking about my personal tastes and accommodation, especially as they relate to the kinds of relationships I want to have.

Time and space naturally work to restrict the amount of social and relational experiences we get in this lifetime, striking the right balance between opportunity and indulgence seems to be key to not only enjoying ourselves, but also our key relationships.

Let’s keep our porch lights on as long as we can.

4 Responses to “Take It or Leave It”

  1. Darcy Hansen September 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    Maybe you were a fly on the wall yesterday during a conversation I was having with a friend. “Picky kids are less accommodating, and they tend to struggle in large groups” could quite possibly sum me up. Thanks for the fresh perspective. Will strive to keep the porch light on as long as possible:)

    • Jon September 13, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

      I love that you are so honest and willing to see what applies and doesn’t apply to you! YOu are definitely a bright porch light!

  2. Kellie Riesen September 6, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

    I chuckled my way through this, only to be reminded once again how important it is to “keep that front porch light burning”. Relationships are worth nurturing….loved your post!

    • Jon September 13, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

      SO true Kellie. Thanks for being one of the good moms!

Leave a Reply:

XHTML: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>