Just Say No to Advertising Your Business via Trick-or-Treaters

I’ve always loved Halloween.

As a child I looked forward to Trick-or-Treating with great anticipation.  I recall the year my Mom made ghost costumes for my sister and I, and there was the year I was Cinderella, complete with one of those horrid plastic masks kept on with the thin string of elastic.  Never mind that the plastic mask with the teeny, tiny eye and breath holes practically suffocated me .  Toss it, you say?  Oh, no.  It was part of my costume, and it was pulled down over my face and pushed up for breaths.  Every ten seconds.  All.  Night.  Long.

The last year I could get away with Trick-or-Treating was the year I turned thirteen.   By then too self-conscious and fearful of being uncool, the only possible costume was a hobo.  Every seventh grader in central Jersey was a hobo that year.  My friends and I made the rounds of my 1000+ apartment complex, finally heading home in triumph with a pillowcase full of candy.

By the next year I was simply too old to go Trick-or-Treating, at least without the censure of the adults opening their doors.  So I talked my neighbor into allowing me to chaperone her three and five year-olds, and I did that for the next three years.

As I got older Halloween became on of the joys of being a parent I most looked forward to.  I would accompany my nephews and my friends’ kids, and dream of someday.

Someday has been here for awhile now, and we’re about to celebrate Son’s sixth Halloween. They’ve all been memorable, terrific.  I’ve loved making his costumes, going to Halloween parties, last year’s parade at school, and Trick-or-Treating with friends.  We are working on costume ideas now, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to give up the be-the-cute-thing-Mommy-wants-you-to-be ghost (giving up the ghost – pun intended) in favor of his own choice of a “skeleton zombie”.  Sigh.

Not that Halloween hasn’t had it’s share of disappointments.  When I was very little we’d eat the candy apples and other homemade goodies we got as part of our cache.  Then sick people started putting things like razor blades in apples, so we had to give up those lovingly made treats and start inspecting our candy.

Then there was the bane of the northern childrens’ existence – being forced by our mothers to – gasp! – wear a coat over our costumes!!  Oh, the insanity of it all!

Now there is a relatively new trend that is irking me to no end.

People are advertising their businesses on the backs of Trick-or-Treaters.  There are blog posts all over the blogosphere promoting the practice, and giving suggestions on how to maximize the impact.   Entrepreneurs can attach business cards to candy, give free samples (that no child would give any type of hoot about at all – they just want CANDY!),  links to your blog and coupons.  Coupons for a “free” karate lesson (and afterward the big sell for $120/month lessons), or $5 off your $20 Avon order, or free estimates for pest control!

No one loves a coupon more than I.  And I understand that times are tough.  Finding creative ways to advertise is not only important, but vital to the survival of small business, and the recovery of our economy.

I get it.  I do.

But please don’t do it on the backs of children Trick-or-Treating.  I don’t want to be handed your business card, or invited to sell Herbalife.  I don’t want to think about you or your business while I’m watching my son bask in the glow of praise for his costume,  thank givers politely, and run to catch up to his friends.

I don’t want your business there.  It’s tainting one of the most fun, carefree rites of childhood.  Moving the focus from my child.  Where it’s supposed to be.

Don’t you understand that he’ll be thirty tomorrow?

So, if we are on the receiving end of your solicitation, know that it will end up in the trash, and I will be less likely to patronize your business.  Actually, pretty definitely not likely at all.

And, for the record, I also don’t want to see ads on textbooks, playground equipment, or school buses.  Capisce?

Gracias.

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Hey parents of Autistic, Asperger’s and other ASD kids! Some of us parents of typical kids get it!

And we need to help others get it, too.

This is in response to this post.  Which generated this post.

Hi Connie,

I wanted you to know that I didn’t judge your worthiness as a mother or a human being by your post.  I am the Mom of a typical kid, and I think if not for friends that I have whose children are on the autism spectrum I may have taken the situation the same way you did.  After all, that type of situation DOES happen with typical kids, too.

The behavior the child exhibited IS very much an indicator of a child on the spectrum, but perhaps you didn’t know that.  I get that.  It happens.

Yes, a lot of angry Moms with kids on the spectrum slammed you about the post.  And I think several sane Moms of kids on the spectrum responded without the vitriol, but trying to inform.  And, yes, sometimes even the sane Moms get frustrated.

I am not a Yahoo.   I am not looking to attack or disparage you.   I am also not a mom of a child on the spectrum.

I am 45 years old, and have made  comments about and had plenty of strong opinions about my perception of unacceptable and/or disruptive behavior by children, and the apparent lack of parenting skills of others.

But as I’ve gotten older, and as I’ve learned more about autism and other spectrum disorders (a dear friend  has a child with Asperger’s), I’ve thought back on some of those incidents and had V-8 moments.  “Aha!  THAT’S probably what was happening.  That child likely was on the spectrum!”  I’ve even thought back to kids I knew in elementary, middle and high school that were likely un-diagnosed high functioning Aspie or Autistic, and had terrible times trying to get through school.  Although I was never out and out cruel to any of those kids, I did tend to ignore them…

And as I’ve watched my friend parent her child, and read her blog and the blogs of other ASD parents, I’ve also come to understand that these kids cannot be parented the same way.  And I’ve seen and read about their struggle to cope not only with their child’s behavior, but the nasty looks and comments from other adults and children who don’t know and  don’t understand that, “In just a minute,” needs to be said whether it’s going to be just a minute or an hour.  They just don’t understand  what they’re looking at.  And the parents are often too afraid or tired or focused on the child to offer an explanation to witnesses.  Sometimes explanations really help, and sometimes they really don’t.

People have opinions and  make judgments.  It’s what humans do.  It’s not that these people are bad or evil, or even necessarily ridiculously judgmental.  They are just unaware.

I do get it now, but it took me almost 45 years.  I have become the Mom that offers an encouraging smile to caregivers like that grandmother, and when other Moms start talking about an apparently misbehaving or disruptive child I’m the one that says, “Well, perhaps that child is on the Autism Spectrum, and the parent and the child are doing the best they can today.”

And even if I’m wrong, so what?

What am I hoping for by writing you?

First, that you’ll know that not everyone is making a snap judgment about your worthiness by this post.  You’re human.  It was frustrating.  I get it.

Second, that the next time you run into a child with similar behaviors you’ll consider that they may, indeed, be on the spectrum, and perhaps offer a smile of encouragement to the child and  the caretaker.

Lastly, that you’ll join me in becoming a Mom who will offer another possible explanation for a disruptive child’s behavior so that other unaware  Moms can look at another possibility, too.

Best of luck,

BeThisWay

Vacation Ends, You Can Find Me Left of Center

Kate at One More Thing is doing a weekly carnival of sorts, choosing a topic for other bloggers to write about.  This week’s topic is “Vacation”.

Our vacation this year was spent in North Carolina, where Husband spent nearly the entire time building a greenhouse for his parents.

He didn’t think it would take the entire week, but with some rain delays and just the added time anything takes when you do something you’ve never done before, just about our entire vacation was gone.

Husband felt bad that we didn’t really get to do anything fun, that I was stuck in the house.  Their home is thirty minutes from the nearest civilization,  and even that isn’t a hotbed of activity.  Most of my time was spent playing with son, playing on my computer, or doing housework for my mother-in-law.

There really is no reason for him to feel bad, I told Husband.  My entire life is a vacation.  I don’t have to go to work.  I get to have fun every day – taking Son to the playground, to the water park, to the library.  I can stay home in my PJs and spend the day swimming, playing Go Fish and cuddling a very cute 5 year-old as we take an afternoon nap.

I get to do what I want, when I want, all day long. And I get to do it with the most spectacular little blessing G-d has ever given me.  I feel so lucky that I get to do this.  It’s almost as if it’s some big secret that I should be protecting.  That if  someone figured out how great my gig was it would come to an immediate end.

I always knew it had to end – just like all vacations.  The brochure specifically stated that the all-day togetherness trip lasts only five years (unless you take the optional homeschooling rider, which I declined for the health and well-being of all involved) before a rider than changes everything kicks into gear.

And that change is now only five days away.

Because on that 5th day Son starts kindergarten.  And the best vacation I’ve ever taken in my life goes on hiatus for six hours a day.  And I move from being the center of his world to just left of center as he takes his place in a new sub-world, without me.

Sure, I’ll still spend lots of time with him.  And sure, it’s all part of growing up.  But I will forever miss this precious time we’ve had together, just the two of us.

And I’ll be forever grateful to G-d and to Husband for sending me on this five-year vacation.  I can’t wait to see what fun Son and I can cram into six less hours a day, as we inch towards age 15 when I will be so far from the center of his world that he’ll likely want me to walk two paces behind him in public.

Not in Front of the Children

Kate at One More Thing is doing a weekly carnival of sorts, choosing a topic for other bloggers to write about.  I’ve been on a blogging hiatus (Look!  No posting for weeks and then three in one day!), so this is my first entry.

My post is a bit of a twist on the theme, but this is what’s on my mind today.

An old friend of mine passed away last week, after a courageous battle with cancer.  Monday was Louise’s  funeral, and I attended with Son in tow.

Some think that funerals aren’t appropriate for children.  I disagree.  Death is as much a part of life as anything else, and I don’t think attending a funeral will scar Son for life.

He didn’t know this friend, but we talked about her and I showed him photos of her and her family.  He already has a pretty good understanding of death (as much as a 4 year-old can), as we lost my stepmother two years ago and we still talk of her, and visit her grave.  He asks age-appropriate questions, and I give him age-appropriate answers.

“Is she with G-d?”  Yes, buddy.

” Is she with Grandma?” Well, I’m not sure if they know each other, but they’re both with G-d.

“Will you die before me?”  Yes, I probably will.

“Will I be 87 when I die?”  I don’t know.  But I’m pretty sure you’ll live a very long and happy life.

“Will Louise be a baby again (referring to our previous discussions about where he was before he was born – with G-d)?”   That’s a good question, buddy.  It’s a nice thought, isn’t it?

He was very good during the service – I’ll venture that most of the 300+ guests had no idea that a 4 year-old was present.  We looked at photos of Louise throughout her life, and he was really interested in those of  her as a little girl.  When her young grandson stood up and gave a eulogy Son was rapt, and when the grandson cried Son told me the boy was sad because he missed his Nana.

At the graveside service he asked the Rabbi if Louise was in the box, and the Rabbi explained that her body was there, but her soul was with G-d.  I don’t know if he really understood, but he was very enthusiastic about throwing dirt on her casket (a Jewish tradition).

But I think he would have been happy to throw that dirt anywhere.

Money and Identity

Thanksgiving is a five day extravaganza  in my family.  My sisters and  their families came into town, and we spend almost all of the time they are  here together because time together is so rare.

The kids have a blast – Son is thrilled to spend so much time with his cousins, and has declared on more than one occasion today that he wants to go live with them.

Days together revolve around meals.  All of our dinners are planned out before plane reservations are made.  Breakfasts and lunches are a wee more spontaneous, but we can always count on my father to plan lunch before the breakfast dishes are cleared.  We’re Jewish – food is of utmost importance.

Dad pays for everything.  He wouldn’t have it any other way. The other night the sixteen of us went out to dinner at a chez fancy restaurant, and I’m sure the bill came to at least $700.  None of us even thought of reaching for  a check.  It’s just not done.  And it’s not only when the entire family is together.  Even when it’s just the two of us Dad insists on paying, unless its his Birthday or Father’s Day.

I used to find this puzzling, and feel that I was taking advantage.   Shouldn’t I pay some of the time?  It’s only fair – and I have a very strong sense of fairness.

He and I once got into an actual argument over who was going to pay a lunch check  He got so angry when I snatched the check out of his hand, and I was shocked.  He told me that I was insulting him by not letting him pay.  Insulting him??????

And that’s when I got it.

For my Dad, being able to provide for his children has always been his number one priority.  Part of being a father is putting a roof over our heads, paying for college, paying for weddings, and paying for meals, in or out.

It’s part of his identity.  Who he is.  Money and parenthood are closely related to him, and he spent many years struggling to find the money to provide the things he felt he was required to provide.  And he always did.

We all make decisions about money, what it means to us,  how much we need to be happy, what we’re willing to do to get it.  Our relationship with money is part of our identities, and it colors all of our relationships.

And it’s taught me, again, that sometimes giving is being willing to receive.

Deal of the Day November 5, 2008

Happy Birthday, Bruce!!

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To Answer the Question of the Urinal…

A few weeks ago I pondered whether or not to allow Son to dress as a urinal for Halloween. Many have asked what we decided.

Turns out I didn’t  have to decide.

Not a urinal.  Usually.

Not a urinal. Usually.

We’d read a Curious George book that saw George going to a costume party. One of the party guests was a garbage can and Son could not stop laughing. The urinal was out. The trash can was in…

It was lots of fun making this costume, and we were happy with how it came out. I spent $1.49 on spray paint, and the rest was, well, garbage.

When we walked into his classroom this morning we were blown away by the reaction of the kids and the teachers. There was a huge “Whoaaaaaaaaaaaa!” and the kids rushed over to him. He was a little overwhelmed!

I can’ t tell you how good it felt to see Son’s idea come together so well. I’m so happy I went to the trouble of making his costume. It’s so rewarding to me. These are the types of things I’d look forward to when I dreamed about what motherhood would be like, and the reality is even better than the anticipation.

And it only cost $1.49.

We’re off to dazzle the family and friends. Enjoy your Halloween!

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