Trick Or Treat, Take Twelve

Dante has a peanut allergy. It’s not the deadly kind where he can’t even be in the same zip code as a peanut, but it can have some pretty unpleasant consequences. We initially found out about it through a blood test that was administered for a different reason, and became very careful about it since then. This summer, he accidentally ingested a few peanut M&Ms, which was a terrifying parental moment, but after some puking and a trip to the ER turned out basically okay.

That’s not the story I’m telling here. Tonight’s story is about what it’s like to take Dante trick-or-treating when he has become very vigilant about his peanut intake. 364 days of the year, this is a great thing. When presented with a new food, especially by a stranger, he will almost always ask, “Does it have peanuts in it?”, and I feel like this habit makes him safer. However, when trick or treating on Halloween night, we do not want to be the incredibly high-maintenance and annoying family who insist that all the random strangers from whom we are mooching candy ensure that their handouts are peanut-free. Instead, we make a deal with Dante that he should just accept what’s given, and that we’ll take care of the peanut-screening at home, exchanging peanutty candies for allergen-free stuff from our own stash.

At least, that’s the intention. Instead, we end up living inside a comedy sketch:

HOUSE 1
[Of course, at house 1, we are in blissful denial about needing to prep the peanut thing, and in any case have our hands full with negotiating how much to hang back from the porch, how to get Dante around in his bulky helmet, helping him ring the doorbell through his gloves, etc. So we get this, after ringing the bell.]
DANTE: [Seeing the candy bowl held by the person.] Does that have peanuts in it?
NEIGHBOR: [Flustered] Oh, uh, hm. I, uh…
US: [To the neighbor] It’s okay, sorry about that. [To Dante] Dante don’t worry about it, we’ll take care of it.
NEIGHBOR: I can try to–
US: No, really, it’s okay.
DANTE: Trick or treat!

So we leave house 1 and huddle with Dante on the curb. We tell him we’ll worry about the peanuts, and that all he has to say is “trick or treat.”

HOUSE 2
[Neighbor answers the doorbell.]
DANTE: [After a few seconds] Trick or treat! [And as she’s reaching for the candy bowl…] Does that have peanuts in it?

So another flustered nice neighbor, another hasty apology from us, another huddle on the curb. Please, we say, do not ask the nice person whether the candy has peanuts. Mom and Dad will handle the peanut thing after the trick or treating is over.

HOUSE 3
DANTE: Trick or treat!
NEIGHBOR: Well aren’t you the cutest little astronaut? Here you go!
DANTE: [Turning to us] Do you think that has peanuts in it?
NEIGHBOR: Oh no, is he allergic to–
US: [Sigh] No worries, we’ve got it handled, thank you so much, happy Halloween!

We hustle on to another curb conference. We try to explain that it makes sense for him to be asking about peanuts, we totally understand why, and most of the time it’s a great habit, but tonight it might hurt someone’s feelings if instead of accepting their gift you immediately question it, so that’s why Mommy and Daddy promise you do not have to ask about the peanuts. Please don’t even bring up the peanuts.

HOUSE 4
DANTE: Trick or treat!
NEIGHBOR: Hello there!
DANTE: [Pointing at the bowl of candy] I think I want that one because it doesn’t have any peanuts in it.
NEIGHBOR: Oh, uh… okay…
US: [Now we’re the flustered ones] Dante, you can’t just demand — please just take — we’re trying to — [to the neighbor] okaythankyouhappyHalloween!

At this point, we begin to trade off between highly frustrated and hysterically amused. We try to coach Dante once again, this time leaving reasons behind and going for the simple message: Look, just stick to these two things to say. When they answer the door, say “Trick or treat.” When they give you the candy, say “Thank you.” Just please say only those things. Okay? Okay.

HOUSE 5
DANTE: Trick or treat!
NEIGHBOR: Happy Halloween! What’s your costume?
DANTE: [Looks at us helplessly. This wasn’t in the script.]
US: It’s okay to tell her.
DANTE: I’m an astronaut!
NEIGHBOR: Well you look great! Here you go.
DANTE: Does it–
US: THANK YOU HAVE A GREAT NIGHT.

What can we say? The crucial things to say are “Trick or treat” and “Thank you.” The crucial thing not to say is “Does it have peanuts?” What are you going to say? Good. What are you not going to say? Good.

HOUSE 6
DANTE: Trick or treat!
NEIGHBOR: Hi there! You are a great looking astronaut. [Dropping a roll of Starburst candy into Dante’s bucket.] Here you go! [To us] Hey, how’s your move-in process going?
[We get into a conversation with the neighbor. Dante, who at this age is not yet savvy enough to understand that of course Starburst has no peanuts in it, is intently reading the label out loud.]
DANTE: … Gelatin, Food Starch-Modified, Natural and Artificial Flavors, As-cor-bic Acid Vitamin C, Coloring Red 40 Yellow 5 Yellow 6 Blue 1. Hey, I don’t think this has any peanuts in it!

Excerpt from a curb conversation:
US: This is about manners. It feels rude to question those gifts, and that’s why we’re telling you we will fix it after the fact. Does that make sense?
DANTE: Yeah.
US: Do you get what we’re asking you to do?
DANTE: I get it. I’m starting to get it.

HOUSE 7
DANTE: Trick or treat!
NEIGHBOR: Hi, here you go.
DANTE: Does that have peanuts? [Immediately, to us] Whoops! I forgot! Sorry.

And so it went. By the time we’d done a few more houses, he’d started to get it down, but by that time he was ready to stop with the trick-or-treating anyway. So we went home. And traded out the peanut candy for something else. And began the countdown toward next Halloween.

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9 thoughts on “Trick Or Treat, Take Twelve

  1. DANTE: Does it–
    US: THANK YOU HAVE A GREAT NIGHT.

    LOL

    There is only one conceivable thing that could make this funnier: if you made an IF transcript out of it 😉

    Also, you are awesome parents. In case you needed the reminder.

  2. Oh, this was hilarious. I was wondering about this very thing before Halloween, since I have had some experience with Dante’s peanut paranoia. This went about how I expected, but much funnier. Ah well, next year will be easier.

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