“What If You’re Not There and Your Child Gets Hurt?” A Halloween Mis-hap…and A Halloween Revolution!

Hi Folks! Two stories for you. Here’s the one to remember when folks start “What If”- ing your decision to send your kids outside to play or walk to school or do pretty much anything without you. One question I always get is, “Well what if they get HURT and you’re not there?” Here’s what if, sent to us by a mom named Jennifer who lives in St. Paul, MN, where she teaches ethics at the state university and homeschools her two kids.: 

Dear Free-Range Kids: We had a Halloween experience that reinforced my view that most people are good and helpful and that teaching kids what to do when they encounter problems is a good thing.

My 9-year-olds went out trick or treating with their 8-year-old friend. About 45 minutes later we got a call from a neighbor a few blocks away. My son had tripped and sprained his ankle on the steps going up to someone’s yard. The kids asked for help, stayed together, and called home from a neighbor’s phone. The neighbors from the houses a few blocks away carried my son to a comfortable place to sit and waited until we showed up. Everyone was helpful and kind and there was no criticism of my parenting for letting the kids out alone. My daughter and her friend continued trick or treating for another 45 minutes, after which she came home and gave a bunch of extra candy to her brother since he’d had to go home early. This stash included homemade cookies (which I did not examine for razor blades or other horrible things, because I don’t want my kids to get the idea that neighbors with cookies are trying to hurt them)  and which were delicious.

AND A BONUS STORY, about a child-led HALLOWEEN REVOLUTION: 

Hi Free-Range Kids! We also weathered Sandy well and are fortunate that ALL have power in our neighborhood and there is little damage (just a few trees down, already cleared).  School has been called off for the week because of power outages so the kids were really, really looking forward to Halloween. We have a fun block party every year that is so much fun.  Imagine my surprise when our township announced (for the first time ever) that they were postponing Halloween to Saturday at 2pm (daytime!).

So the kids revolted!  They did not just accept that they could be told not to trick-or-treat on Halloween. They called around to their friends, knocked on doors, and saved Halloween night.  Honestly, it was one of their best Halloweens ever!  Other neighborhoods nearby  (who still did not have power) even came over to join in, grateful their kids had something to do.  We gave out all of our candy! – Lollipoplover

23 Responses to “What If You’re Not There and Your Child Gets Hurt?” A Halloween Mis-hap…and A Halloween Revolution!

  1. Kenny Felder November 2, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    It’s working! The Lenore revolution is spreading! This is sooooooooo awesome!

  2. Rob November 2, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    These stories, especially the second one, make me so happy! I’m a 42 year old father, and my youngest is 14 years old — he’s been going out on Halloween with his friends and leaving us at home for a few years now and I’ve missed being able to take him (I’m a Halloween fanatic). So, when he decided he didn’t want me to come along any more, I was prepared to settle into my role of dressing up and handing out candy.

    We live in a nice neighborhood in a small-ish town in Texas, and I do see kids playing outside, but not as much as you’d expect. There is unfortunately very little sense of community in our neighborhood, and the HOA does very little to encourage it. And, in face, does a lot to DIScourage it. However, I was at least confident that there would be lots of kids out on Halloween looking for candy.

    For three years I bought candy, dressed up, and sat on my porch waiting for the kids to come by. But none did. That first year, I assumed it was because we’re way at the front of the neighborhood and at the end of a cul-de-sac. When my son got home I asked him if there were lots of kids out and he told me “no”. They barely saw anybody, and almost no porch lights were on.

    After three years of wasting time and money on costumes and candy, I gave up. Halloween is dead in my neighborhood and I’m very depressed about it. Reading a story about a group of kids saving Halloween in their neighborhood, and having kids from nearby neighborhoods welcomed in, in a city that (unfortunately) has a reputation for being unfriendly and rude (I know, it’s not true, but for some reason everyone who lives outside of NYC believes this), made me smile real big this morning!

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Longanlon November 2, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    When I was about 6, my grandmother was diagnosed with a serious heart condition and the doctor’s advice was for her to leave the city and live in a village. She bough a house in a small village and since then I spent every summer vacation there.

    I used to walk around the village all the time – hanging out and playing with friends all day, exploring the nearby river and fields, etc. Good times :)

    I never wore any shoes, as was customary back in the day for small children in villages (I am from Bulgaria, this was about 1985). So, this one time (I was 6 or 7) I stepped on a piece of glass, which cut my foot – not deep, as I remember, but there was lots of blood, as is always with foot injuries. I was away from home outside the village, and alone. I cried a little, but after that I started thinking how to get to my grandma’s house without stepping in the dirt with an open wound (I already knew about germs and infections).

    After a while this old lady came by, and seeing my situation, offered me a handkerchief, which I tied around my foot. She did not offer to take me home – I dont know why, but I realized I will be able to get there faster then her even hopping on one foot (she was pretty old and walked with a cane). So, I got back to to my grandma, who disinfected the wound and bandaged it.

    Nobody rushed me to a hospital, nobody kidnaped me, I did not die from blood loss, and I did not develop abandonment issues, post-traumatic stress disorder… What a miracle 😉

  4. Amanda Matthews November 2, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    I find it silly that people have the idea they can “postpone Halloween”. Yeah, the spirits that haven’t passed are just going to wait until things are convenient for the living. Winter is just going to wait to come – no need to start getting prepared for it everyone, ignore the falling temperatures! I’m sure if towns tried to “postpone Christmas” due to a snowstorm, people would be in an uproar, and that’s not even celebrated on the correct day.

  5. Sheeple Herder November 2, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    I heard on the news that a child was injured in Lisbon Ohio after he ran out in front of a car. I for one think we need to BAN these evil devices. Hey? If it saves one child?

  6. Jessie November 2, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    Reminded this year in an unfortunate manner that the most serious risk to kids at Halloween is automobiles. A friend’s child was hit by a car (she is now recovering well, thank heavens). We were told so many times when I was a kid to watch out for razor blades and candy that had been tampered with, but the most dangerous thing is walking around in the dark when there are cars on the road, and that is true any night of the year.

  7. MHM November 2, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    I think its great that the fears we see on TV are just that fears on TV. Went trick or treating with my kids (3 and 5) my daughter had more fun looking for and finding fellow classmates.

    Didn’t review their candy except to look for items with gelatin (we keep kosher). Spent the rest of the evening hanging on the porch giving out candy to kids and eating it. Next year if I’ve got time I’ll pass out homemade caramel. Wonder what the neighborhood would think of that!

    Perhaps you could make free-range stickers for people to make homemade goodies, that give a link to the truth about Halloween. One of the safest nights of the year.

    @Jessie glad to hear your friends child is recovering well. Wish the news would remind drivers that the kids are out and drive slower.

  8. backroadsem November 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    Wonderful stories!

    It seemed my neighborhood was fairly free range for Halloween–though it was hard to tell as all the kiddos were going one block off for candy, so we saw a total of seven groups.

    BUT based on what we saw, it was free-range. We live in a basement apartment, down steps and around a corner. The trick-or-treaters? Very small children, three- and four- year-olds. I certainly wouldn’t advocate them going out by themselves at that age, but all the parents just sent them down the scary (yet surprisingly well-lit steps) completely out of sight, to knock on the door. I heard parents reminding their little ghouls and goblins to say thanks and only saw one parent when she recognized my voice and came down to chat while her toddler whined about going to more houses. Really, I found it all marvelous free-range training.

  9. Pam November 2, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

    Another good news Halloween story!!!

    My daughter heard rumour of a house that hands out freshly made cotton candy. They rent a machine and set up in the driveway, giving out cotton candy every year.

    We’re relatively new to the neighbourhood – it is a “nice” neighbourhood in a small city (125,000). I asked around before Halloween, and was told, yep, they’ve been doing it for years, it’s a Halloween tradition in our neighbourhood.

    DD (and I) ate the cotton candy, and survived! And the house next door to them was handing out hot chocolate, so we took a cup and shared it.

    Nov. 2nd and we’re both still alive :)

  10. Jen Connelly November 2, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    This was the third year my oldest went out without adult supervision. She’s 12, her friends are mostly 13.

    This year my 11yo son also took off with his friends. They walked about 2 miles to one of the nicer neighborhoods then walked back. My 10yo daughter was going to go out with her 11yo friend along with my 6yo daughter but the friend couldn’t go so they ended up just following Daddy and the 2yo around the neighborhood.

    And the thing I was most worried about: cars. Especially my son who was dressed almost entirely in black. I made each kid take a glow stick (every year they at least have a glow stick or the bracelets/necklaces on). They weren’t allowed out of the house without one. If I had thought of it I would have bought reflective tape to put on my son’s cape and around his ankles and wrists. My mom used to do that to our costumes when I was a kid.

    There weren’t a whole lot of people out because it was rainy but there were a few older kids that came without parents. Most came in large family/neighbor groups with 1 or 2 sets of parents that were chatting, mostly there to watch the toddlers in the group.

  11. Jen Connelly November 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    Oh, and on the topic of “what if they get hurt?”… I’ve actually had that experience a couple summers ago when my then 8yo daughter (now 10) fell while riding her bike at the park a couple blocks away. There were no adults around but she was with her friend who lived near by. The friend got paper towels and band-aids (her parents weren’t home) to patch up her bleeding knee. Then the two of them walked to our house.

    My daughter came in and started cleaning herself up, blubbering almost incoherently about what happened. I just let her do her thing for about 3 minutes until I finally had to tell her to sit down before she passed out (she was completely white and shaking with shock). It wasn’t until my husband came to see what the commotion was that it finally hit her. She just burst into tears and started sobbing into my husband’s shoulder. She really tore her knee up (blood everywhere) but she kept her head and got safely home.

    I’m one of those people that believes most people are trustworthy and compassionate and will help. This one time I fell while walking home from the store and hurt my ankle (thought it was sprained but ended up broken). I didn’t have my phone with me and was blocks away with no way to get home or help. I guy offered to call someone but we didn’t have local numbers and he wouldn’t call long distance. I tried to tough it out and walk home but three steps later I collapsed, shaking and nearly passed out. While sitting there and crying a guy pulled up and asked if I needed help.

    He told me he almost didn’t stop because he thought maybe I was just drunk (there was a bar on the corner) but then he saw I was really hurt and couldn’t bear to just drive away and leave me. I could tell he was nervous to even be offering but he said he’d give me a ride home. So I let him. I never got his name or anything but he was a life saver. I would have been sitting on the sidewalk, 3 blocks from home forever if it hadn’t been for him.

  12. A Dad November 2, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    @Jen – Kids are smarter and more capable that we adults/parents believe them to be. However, they will let us do as much as we force on them.

    Congratulations on a strong, capable daughter.

  13. ks November 2, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    My kids went out trick-or-treating for the first time alone this year. They are 10 and 7 and the 10 year old flat out told me that he did not need his mom to follow him around and that they could do it themselves. We live in a very safe neighborhood and there were lots of people out, so we let them go (I had to talk their dad into it, because he’s a worrier, but still).

    They called about an hour and a half later, lost, and the oldest told me what street he was on (about 6 blocks down and two over from us) and asked how to get home. Husband panicked and set off to find them while I stayed home on candy duty. He called 20 minutes later saying he couldn’t find them, right as they walked up to the door gushing about how much fun they had. Husband was pissed that they hadn’t waited for him to come get them, but they were so proud of themselves for finding their way back in the dark on their own.

  14. Janis November 2, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

    Well here in NJ Halloween as per governor is postponed till Monday and on Halloween I told my kids, who took the news with amazing grace. Our friends had lost their homes so losing Halloween was small compared. My soon to be 8 yr old decided that people needed a reason to smile though and put on her costume convinced her brother to do the same, leashed the dogs( we are hurricane sitting),grabbed the candy bowl and went door to door handing out candy while walking the dogs. So that everyone could at least smile for a few minuted. I stayed home boiling water to keep the house warm for my elderly FIL. By her efforts I soon found my yard full of neighbors(some know others not know) talking and enjoying coffee. We used our camp coffee maker(no electric needed) , others supplied creamer or coffee, and cars were left running to charge up phones and catch what ever news we could. All thanks to an 8 yr old wanting to spread cheer on Halloween.

  15. Kimberly November 2, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    I think one of the milestones is the child/ren being able to get help and relate any important information to adults that might help them. My sister, cousins, and friends could have given my medical history (life threatening allergies by skin contact) and that of another friend with a chronic illness. We never had to tell the info to 1st responders, but a couple of time we kids had to “gang up” on an adult that was insisting I eat something I am allergic to. We had permission to be “rude” if they didn’t listen.

    It also works backwards. My niece (7) and nephew (4) have told teachers to basically to stop freaking out because “I bruise in a stiff wind like mom. It is no big deal” when huge bruises appeared in the middle of the day at school with no known cause. (They do not have any type of cancer just a high pain tollerance and light skin like their mom.)

  16. KMary November 2, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    Janis, what a great story! I almost teared up a bit.

    My kids are young, so we went with them on Halloween, but we stayed out in the street chatting with some other parents. Was probably our most fun Halloween yet. I plan on slowly increasing the distance each year. Last year we went up to the doors with them, this year stayed in the road, next year maybe we’ll hang out on the corner…

  17. ThatDarnCat November 2, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    Our town has taken to having the ‘official’ Halloween celebration on the Saturday preceding the actual Halloween and so have many of the ‘Christian’ churches. Fortunately the rest of the town just ignores them and we have Halloween on the day. On top of that, we have bands of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders who rove about the streets unsupervised (to the horror of the local liberal commucrats) and not one has ever been threatened. I guess we just haven’t been properly indoctrinated yet.

  18. Cynthia812 November 2, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    If my kids got homemade cookies, they would be confiscated so I could eat them. Homemade cookies are my weakness.

  19. Karen Szillat November 3, 2012 at 12:51 am #

    More important than teaching kids to be afraid of people is teaching them how to ask for help when needed, how to problem-solve when something doesn’t work out as expected, and how to feel confident and capable even under stressful situations. This is how they become successful people themselves, whether they are 5 or 55!

  20. Don Berg November 3, 2012 at 1:19 am #

    I have always found it absurd that government officials assumed they had the power to postpone holidays. I applaud all those who ignored those pompous windbags attempting to usurp the will of the people to celebrate according to their own good sense. No one needs permission or authorization to celebrate, just do it.

  21. Lisa Paul November 5, 2012 at 11:34 pm #

    For those condemning the cities/states that postponed Halloween due to Sandy, it was the right thing to do. There are so many communities that were hit so hard and so many more without power and heat that many people just would not have been able to get their stuff together enough to celebrate properly on Halloween. Homes destroyed, people in shelters. should those kids who’s lives were ruined not get to celebrate Halloween because of the timing of the storm?

    By postponing the Trick or Treating aspect of Halloween, they allowed enough time for those that needed it to be able to take part in the holiday. For those communities who were not as severely effected, glad they could celebrate it on the actual day if they chose to.

    The spiritual holiday went on as planned for those that celebrate and its moronic to even suggest the government was trying to put off spirits trying to cross over.

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  1. What If Youre Not There and Your Child Gets Hurt A Halloween Mis-hapand A Halloween Revolution! - SAHM Solution | SAHM Solution - March 16, 2013

    […] Hi Folks! Two stories for you. Here’s the one to remember when folks start “What If”- ing your decision to send your kids outside to play or walk to school or do pretty much anything without you. One question I always get is, “Well what if they get HURT and you’re not tSee all stories on this topic » […]