The Few. The Proud. The Trick-or-Treat Experts.

It's that time of year again.

The most glorious night of the year to my three daughters. The night when all their dreams come true.

It is also the favorite night of the year to dentists everywhere, but that is another topic for another day.

The one, the only, Halloween.

Halloween is a highly anticipated even around here for three main reasons:
1. the dress-up. My children are just a little obsessed with being in costume. This is evidenced by our overflowing dress-up box, the fact that they sit at the table for an ordinary dinner dressed as a princess, and at times I have even allowed them to go into public places dressed like fictional characters.
2. obviously, the candy.
3. And in a close second to the candy, the doorbells. Being able to ring strangers' doorbells everywhere?! Doorbells are like the portal to happiness to my youngest. Normally she is banned from random ringings when we take walks, but for this one, glorious night, she can push doorbell buttons to hear little heart's content.

Think about it. This is the single greatest idea for a holiday since Christmas. Roaming around the neighborhood DRESSED UP and being given loads and loads of FREE candy PLUS the whole freedom to ring doorbells? YES!!!

Trick or treating used to be a fairly innocent and simple activity around here. It was so easy when they were too young to really understand the possibilities. We'd hit a few of our neighbors' homes and then go tuck them into bed. Half the time they totally forgot they had candy and I could eat it, I mean, dispose of it properly.

Not so anymore. Now, trick or treating is serious business.

The other day I'm sure I saw them with Google maps pulled up on my laptop showing an aerial view of our neighborhood. They were strategizing the most efficient routes to make it possible to hit the most homes. The places of residence where pretzels, raisins, Christian tracts, or apples are given were clearly marked with a red X. They have also marked where the biggest traffic jams will be and have timed out their route perfectly to avoid the toddlers waddling along slowly up front steps.

I also was required recently to take them on a dry run. They were like miniature Navy SEALS on a critical mission. I could tell they had been training for months because their steps were quick and sure, their breathing disciplined, and their focus unbelievable. Not even an adorable stray puppy or Santa Claus in person could've distracted them. They were in the zone. I'm pretty sure they've developed a series of secret code words and may be utilizing communication techniques such as Morse Code. One child would utter a simple word like, "shoestrings" for no reason and suddenly all three of them would turn in perfect formation and head a different direction. They also seemed to be tapping in odd rhythms on their metal lunch boxes which they had insisted on bringing along. I have not been able to break their code yet, but I'm convinced they are talking about how to ditch me on the big night if I'm slowing them down.

Moments before their big night begins, they will gather in their butterfly bedroom for their final meeting. Their captain, a.k.a. big sister, will give them one last pep talk. They will be reminded of how far they've come, how hard they've worked, how much they've overcome (like learning to "hold it" when they're still 10 houses from their goal but really need a potty break, the early morning boot camp sessions of running up and down front steps with a stop watch, and the difficulties of mastering the "cute factor" so as to obtain maximum candy from the elderly). It will be quite a moving speech. They will each share honest moments of when they thought they would quit. When they doubted they could take the pressure. And how they've built a bond stronger than brothers (or sisters, in this case) through the adversities they've overcome together. They will form a small huddle with hands outstretched in the middle, look each other in the eye, and have a moment of silence before their mission begins.

Then they will gather their necessary gear, ME, to be exact, and we will head out.


They have perfected their act and I watch in awe. They know exactly what to do and say to ensure the largest candy acquisition possible from each home. They play the game well. The cuter you are, the more candy you get, especially from families whose children have outgrown the Halloween festivities. And old ladies? Jackpot. I've witnessed my youngest assess the candy givers at front doors and modify her approach accordingly. She'll add in a strategic stumble up the steps or feign timidity or fear as she makes her way to the front door. Last year she was dressed as a white kitten and quickly figured out that if she offered a tiny "meow" in her best 2-year-old voice, it was like she was the pied piper and homeowners couldn't give her enough. Her sisters just look on approvingly, happy to see their young apprentice doing so well. They are also quite pleased because they will, as big sisters are prone to do, be skimming a handsome 30% off the top of all her earnings.

At some point during the evening I will look around and note that we are so far from our house we may have to send up a flare for my husband to locate us and come pick us up. It would be okay if it were just us, but remember by this point the girls will each be carrying the equivalent of their body weight in candy. The traditional plastic pumpkins have been tossed long ago because they clearly do not hold ample amounts of candy. They pretty much just go for large black trash bags at this stage in the game.

And so, we will make our way back home, tired and heavy laden with sugar delights. Enough sugar to power a small country for months if we could figure out how to convert it into electricity. Enough sugar that we could just go ahead and hire a diabetic specialist to live in our home because if the kids actually were allowed to eat all they collected, we would pretty much need him around the clock. Sugar suicide.

Happy Halloween, all you parents out there. Don't let your cute little superheroes and princesses fool you. They've been planning their secret operation for months now. It will be a thing to behold.

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