The Swan the and Peacock

Since it’s halloween–and since I’m on vacation–a rerun of one of my favorites.

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My baby went trick-or-treating this year. My baby is seventeen. And I have no problem with that.

I imagine, based on a lot of argument I see in cyberspace, that she was not appreciated everywhere she went. The complaints are legion that teens are too old, too greedy, too whatever. I don’t know–I’ve always gone by the belief that I’d rather have a kid at my door asking for candy than one doing something else somewhere else that could hurt him or someone else.

But maybe that’s just me.

I don’t know what the appropriate age is when neighbors cease to see you as a kid. I know I haven’t. That’s what mattered to me most that night, I guess.

Oh yes, I also see her as an adult. I see the sophisticated sense of humor, the compassionate concern for real world problems, the coming alongside her parents as a partner more every day.

But I also see the little girl playing dress up, and the Disney-watching princess. I see the fear of being sent into a big world still feeling like a little girl. I see the need to hold on to childhood traditions as childhood itself flits away. I feel the need as well.

It’s not about the candy. OK, maybe it is when it’s a full-sized Three Musketeers. Who can blame a kid? (Especially when I’ll take half of that.) It’s about being a kid. It’s about remembering all the other Halloween nights and all the other costumes and all the other friends, some gone and some remaining at your side, who have traipsed those streets with you over the years.

It’s about a moment in time when you can pretend you’re someone else. In this case, you can pretend you’re something other than a hatchling adult, teetering on the edge of an unknown future.

She knows next year she will be the adult handing out the candy. She knows it. I know it. Just tonight, let us pretend it isn’t so. Let us play dress up one more time. Let mommy see her princess (or swan, as it was this year) in Neverland one more time. Then, tell us it’s time. But not before.

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