How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

He never let go of my thumb…

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The Noobie

He’s only three years old. He’d never been trick-or-treating. So, it was excusable that Lucas was supremely deficient in the Clue Department when it came to Halloween.

When I asked him what he was going to be, he put on his low, gruff serious voice and laughed, saying, “Ho ho nooooo, Daddy!” as if the dumbness of my question was just too much to bear. “I not going to Halloween! Granddad is.” I suddenly had to massage my mouth to smother laughter and hide a smile that threatened full-facial domination.

Well. We tried to get him interested; throwing all his favorite characters out as costume options, like we were bribing him. We even alluded to the glorious prospect of candy. No one can prove that I privately attempted to explain that candy had SUGAR and occasionally came in fun shapes.

We let it go. No costume. This year was just not meant to be his first trick-or-treat.

The Pro

Let’s play a game. How many times did people smash into Max Herald this year?

Max (12yo) is the supreme overlord of trick-or-treating. Last year, he approached doors with a routine asking people if they had paid their taxes! After they were done s##ting in their pants and laughing nervously, Max would flip through a non-existent clipboard and go on to explain that his records showed a delinquency, that “certain fees needed to be satisfied” and that “candy was an acceptable form of payment”! Some people just up-ended their bowls into his bag.

This year he decided to rock a black morphsuit, a skin-tight full-body outfit. It was so tight I was afraid it might explode off him if he encountered a snaggy bush. Or if he simply coughed. But he was ready. A shadow! Ready to explode.

The Graduate

Cody (14yo) decided not to dress up at the last minute (a single tear descends my cheek). He took on being the door greeter like a boss. The people in our new neighborhood forewarned us to expect hundreds of kids. We’d smiled and tried not to raise our eyebrows too high in disbelief. But we “stocked up.” Little did we know then.

Something Epic this Way Comes…

In the dying afternoon light of Halloween, we all awwwwwed at the little monkeys and princesses that periodically wobbled up to our door with their parents connected to their hands.

Night descended. And so then did the oncoming hordes of tweens and teens. Oh my God! But as Cody and my wife, Lizzie, contended with the increasing onslaught, my littlest lad, Lucas, stared on. Fascinated. Delighted!

Cody shouted, teasing me, “Dad! This kid just REACHED for Smarties!” (Quick explanation: to say that I dislike Smarties would be like saying Charlie Sheen may have tried drugs once.)

“Augh! GROSS!!!” I shook my head in disgust. The masked kid stood there for a second, frozen by the strangeness of the moment, before walking away faster than he came.

Trick or Treating Greeting

The Beginning

After establishing rules about candy rationing and not giving candy to any uncostumed punks, and then quickly fixing a problem with Max’s sausage-skin-tight hood, I rifled through the family costume box for myself and found… an old toddler costume.

We showed it to the lad and everyone’s breath held as we waited for his response.


He punctuated it with a “Eureka!” pointer finger stabbed up in the air and said it extra cute to humanely melt our hearts and brains in a swift and painless death.

We dressed him in a blur as if we could hear the ticking of some change-of-mind stopwatch. And then he stood there…

Woody Costume Lucas

I WOODY! I you favowite decooty!

We headed out into the night; Max and Lucas and me. He took my thumb his his tiny grip. As Lizzie covered her mouth, all misty as she flapped her hand farewell, I wondered how many steps we’d make it before Lucas bolted back. But we marched ahead. To my surprise, he dragged me on by the thumb in his little fist.

Then he did his first trick-or-treat! At which point I wondered if he might be holding my wobbly, cute-stricken knees up with his clutching hand. We went from house to house for about twenty minutes. He never let go…

Wet’s go to dat house!

I could not resist saying “WET’S DO IT!” every so often. Even in the dark shadows in front of houses advertising they were not open for business, I could see the glow of his wide, excited eyes.

Little does he know, this candy will be mine.

He never let go…

And then he let go. My heart melted with loss and joy.

After Max was done explaining that he was a thin shadow in serious need of candy in his diet, his bag getting a shower of candy, Lucas held out his pumpkin pail on his own, with both his hands and shouted:

Happy Hawwoween! Twick oh tweat!!!

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24 Responses to “He never let go of my thumb…”

  1. Trisha W. says:

    So sweet. My eyes actually teared up a bit reading about your 3 y.o. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Cutest ever 🙂

  3. Becca A says:

    Awwwwww! My heart just melted. Max has the right idea! I totally should have thought of that! And Cody actually stopped later than I did so you’re lucky. And last but definately not least, Lucas is adorable (as always)!

    • Andy says:

      I’m super lucky. And, yeah, watching Max work a neighborhood made me look on in wonder at all the extra candy I would have gotten as a kid if I’d been half as brilliant at it as his is.

  4. James says:

    It’s those moments that makes a parents heart melt and make the readers tear up!

  5. Kyle says:

    Love it! (Per the usual)

    I had my first trick-or-treating excursion with my 1 year old this halloween.

    We dressed him up as a little Raccoon, and his cousin (or 2nd cousin, irrelevant…) of the same age was a little female owl.

    We were expecting to be lugging him around (mostly to take pictures mind you) for a good 20 minutes before returning to base. He hopped right down, favored a pile of leaves instead of candy for a bit. Walked away from the street through a couple driveways (in search of garbage cans?) and then we scooped him up for the street walking to the next driveway.

    I put him down at the driveway and he toddled right up, following the general flow of traffic (I was very grateful for the 10year old that held back his “Crew” to make room for my little guy) The woman handing out candy was laughing behind her hand to the point of tears crawling down her cheeks as she exclaimed “This is why I love halloween! He is the CUTEST!”

    At the next house, I let him crawl up the 8 or so steps on his own (Telling people it was to burn off calories) and he stopped as the candy giving woman opened her door. She went through the “Oh my goodness!” exclamations and then said “Come here!” while holding out her candy bowl. I had a moment of pride as he walked right up to the bowl… and this was immediately followed by slight embarrassment as my sone proceeded to crawl up over the door’s threshold into the house while the woman laughed and told her husband that “he had a visitor”.

    All in all it was way more exciting for him than I thought it would be. So many great memories! (sorry for the long post… Had to share my story!)

  6. Paola says:

    (I think this is the cutest thing i´ve read in a long, long time.)
    You guys are so refreshing and fun. Thank you very much for your blog.

  7. Jess says:

    This is a far cry (in the UH.MAZE.BALLS direction) from our Halloween night that consisted of Linda Blair in a homemade pumpkin costume and zero pieces of candy. Ain’t that some irony that the first year the mini-human is confident and decided enough to not only choose his costume, but amped to knock doors and take names (names being “Butterfinger”, “Kit Kat” and “Reese’s” mind you) for the first year, in, well, ever. There’s always next year…unless the Mayans were right…

  8. Jess says:

    Way to proofread your comment, Jess…

  9. Stefanie says:

    I cry. Really. A lot. That is beyond sweet and now I am crying harder thinking of how sweet it is and how much I miss that. And now I am ugly crying. Damn looming college boundness.

    • Andy says:

      Ugh! So touching! Cody not trick-or-treating, or even dressing up, this year was my first taste. My eyes are getting misty thinking about them being where your boys are. ::ugly cry hug::

  10. Laurie says:

    Love this beginning to end! BTW its crazy how much your son Cody sitting in the chair with the glasses looks! Seriously though cue the waterworks on my, so very sweet! 🙂

    • Andy says:

      Aw thanks! Yeah, when I was choosing the photos I had the same thought. Lizzie and I just exchanged that “is just me but holyeffingsh*t” look as we watched him walk up to the car after school. They grow up so fast.

  11. JeninCanada says:

    I am dead of the cute. Someone resuccitate me with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!

  12. Kippie says:

    My 23-month-old wanted to be Super Why (from PBS). He was so doggone proud of his costume, I thought he would burst! He quickly got the hang of things. Big sister (aka Rapunzel) would ring the door bell. When the door opened, he would throw his hands in the air and exclaim, “TREAT!!!!” I had to grab him to keep him from running into the first couple houses. Awesome, awesome night!

  13. Erich says:

    This is an awesome story! I remember taking my daughter out for her first Trick or Treat when she was just 13 months old (fast bloomer, trust me) and she had a BLAST. She had her little Storm Trooper costume, a candy bag and all the energy she’d need. After about 3 blocks she started doing the tired toddler stumble and had to be carried back home but along the way she got plenty of candy, even more squeals of cuteness overload from adults, and met a very friendly dog. All in all it was a great night.

  14. Sarah-Jane says:

    Aw! So sweet – I totally teared up over him holding your thumb the whole time then being brave. *sniff sniff*

    Our little dude is 2 now though it wasn’t his first foray into the wonderful world of Halloween. We took him around to the neighbour’s when he was 4 weeks old (a tiny angry pumpkin) and when he was 13 months old (the most adorable little devil I ever saw). This year he refused to let me try out any costumes, freaked out when I tried on a witch’s hat and insisted that a jack-o-lantern is called a “ha-a-ween”. We got around the costume requirement by dressing him in a hockey jersey (’cause he’ll wear that any time), matching ball cap and a mini hockey stick. My hubby told everyone that he was from the midget league and NOT on strike (the strike kept coming up because we are Canadian and therefore pissed off that there is no hockey this year). Our mini hockey player had to have hold of both of us at each house – until he got comfy with the whole idea, at which point he was just inviting himself inside every house, sticking out a grubby little paw and demanding “candy!”. Luckily, people thought it was cute.

    The best part of the whole night had to be when we answered the door to our first trick-or-treaters. Hubby fake screamed when he saw them and it set off our little dude straight into hysterics. He had a total meltdown. Screaming, tears, shaking with fear. Trying not to laugh, we calmed him down and decided that this year’s Halloween was a huge success. 🙂

  15. Liesbet says:

    I’m melting! He’s just too cute!
    For the first time in my life I actually WISHED I could go twick-oh-tweating with my 3-year-old… (it’s not a custom here in Belgium, although it’s on the rise. I have no idea what they say instead of ‘trick or treat’ though).

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