On the afternoon of Halloween, Aidan came home looking tired, and with almost no voice. He went to bed for a couple hours, and when he got up he had a fever of 102. "nnnnnnnooooooooOOOOOOOO! I have to go trick or treating!" His mom smiled a gentle sad smile: "I don't see how we can let him . . . "
But in the end, we let him. What the heck. There are all of six houses on our street. He'll survive. He put on his goblin costume. It looked remarkably like the costume of a homeless person, except for the green mask. He took the green mask off after the first house -- he was too hot in it. This is the third year, I think, he ditched the mask. (Note to self: no more masks.) He troops along, without the wild screaming enthusiasm of his cousins, but still glad to be there. I ask him, before the last house, "How you doing, Boo?" "Tired." Janet had noted earlier: "You know, he's actually a lot easier to get along with when he's sick. Takes the edge off."
He has exactly one piece of candy at home, and then he goes to bed and passes out instantly. There is no fanfare, but I sense a sort of victory.
We work so hard to give our kids safety, the right food, the right education . . . and yet still, so much of their happiness comes down to getting to trick-or-treat when you're seven and have a 102-degree fever. We came so close to making the wrong decision.