Every day is Boos-day

Why do some people make such a big frightening deal over Halloween? If you're the parent of small children, Halloween is no scarier than any other day of the year.

Trick-or-treaters are nothing compared to the everyday terror of a kid with a dripping chocolate ice cream cone rolling around on new carpet. At least trick-or-treaters stay outside on the porch, where they belong. Your own kids can run the gamut of the house, scaring the bejeebers out of you at every turn.

Okay, it's a little disturbing when you answer the door and there's a toddler out there, red lipstick all over his face, proclaiming, "I am SATAN!" But it's really no different from your own kids tearing around the house with grape jelly on their faces, screaming, "Noooo! You can't MAKE me!" And that happens on a daily basis.

Let's look at some Halloween traditions and see how they stack up against everyday life:

--Costumes. Kids love playing "dress-up," and they don't save it strictly for Halloween. Little goblins and demons are nowhere near as frightening as the sight of your four-year-old playing in the dirt in Mommy's $300 evening gown.

--Jack O' Lanterns. Halloween gives social sanction to playing with fire, as long as the child does it inside the safe confines of a damp pumpkin. Such safety rules don't apply the rest of the year.

--Demands for candy. Halloween is the only time of year when absolute strangers can ring your doorbell and demand sweet treats. Any other time, you'd call the cops. But your own kids demand candy year-round. They're addicted to sugar. And they think nothing of waking you at 3 a.m. to ask whether there are any more Whoppers in the house.

--Bobbing for apples. Sure, it's a fun activity at Halloween parties, as long as no one actually drowns. But, the rest of the year, you're lucky if apples are the worst thing you find bobbing in the bathtub.

--Haunted houses. How can parents be frightened by fake spider webs and strobe lights and bloody, screaming monsters? At home, they have actual cobwebs and children flicking the lights off and on all day and screaming over "owies" real and imagined. For parents, a haunted house seems like just another day at home.

--Tricks. Part of the fun of Halloween is the "trick" portion of the trick-or-treat equation. Is it coincidence that my local supermarket was running specials on eggs and toilet paper the week before Halloween? Parents know that kids love to pull pranks all year round. What other explanation could there be for hiding rotten apple cores under beds or painting the dog or the premeditated booby-trapping of toilets? "Harmless" pranks? I don't think so.

--Scaring others. "Boo" is not a Halloween-only phenomenon. Kids take great delight in startling their parents with well-planned surprise attacks. My own sons loved to hide around corners and jump out and shriek "Boo!" They enjoyed watching Dad put dents in the ceiling with his head.

So bring on your witches and werewolves, your pirates and zombies and Frankenstein monsters. They won't scare me a bit. We expect such things at Halloween.

But let a kid show up at my door costumed as your average five-year-old -- filthy T-shirt and scabby knees, wild-eyed from a sugar high, grape jelly all over his face, torturing the family cat -- and I'll hand over all the candy in the house before I quickly slam the door and lock it.

Some things are simply too scary.

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