Dairy Free

Halloween, Food Intolerances, and Urban Trick or Treating: What Worked for Us This Year

Monday November 2, 2015

As Halloween approached this year, I had less and less of an idea about what to do about the intersection of Bean’s food intolerances and Halloween. Last year, at 1.5 years old, she had enough fun just getting free stuff from people. This year, she’d actually know that SHE had gotten something IN HER OWN BASKET and MOMMY, WHERE ARE ALL MY THINGS WHY DO YOU SMELL LIKE CHOCOLATE.

Yes, I’ve heard about those parents who give trinkets to all their neighbors before Halloween, with a note that their lil’ firefighter has allergies and would the neighbor be so kind as to give the trinket to their son when he showed up? But, A) that sounds like a lot of effort? (seriously, like, a LOT of effort) and B) In a city…that’s not something that would work out for you so much.

As always, I didn’t want her food intolerances to get in the way of her enjoyment of trick or treating. I wanted her to feel like every other kid. I wanted her to receive candy gratefully, whether she could eat it or not.

I think our eventual two-part solution worked.

On Halloween day, I realized it would be fun if Bean could knock on the doors of people in our apartment building. It’d be a closer approximation to a Halloween where neighbors know each other and cutely try to guess costumes. The problem, of course, is that no one on the 4th floor of an apartment building expects to hand out Halloween candy; they’d likely have no idea what was happening.

This is how I came up with the idea to hand out dollar-store trinkets to anyone who was home in our building, about an hour before go-time. I knocked on doors, confirmed they’d be around in an hour, explained the food situation, and let them pick out what to hand out to Bean for Halloween. Little notebooks, pencils, buttons, pumpkin glasses, etc.

I thought I’d come across as the weirdo mom in Apt D, but anything for our kids, right? Actually, every single person who answered immediately brightened up when they realized what I was asking. It was beyond heartwarming. All of them gushingly thanked me for including them in our Halloween.

An hour later, Bean timidly rang the first doorbell (this is the opposite of our normal day, when I have to remind her repeatedly that we don’t ring people’s buzzers for kicks). Every neighbor opened the door with such expectant huge smiles that her shyness evaporated under the communal thrill of Halloween. Even the neighbors that we don’t know that well (and the ones we never thought would get into the spirit) just looked so gobsmacked and thrilled.

After, Bean ran off into the night to trick or treat like every other kid, rounding up shocking amounts of chocolate and sugar, eyes glazed over with the awesomeness of it all. Once back home, we separated out what she could eat from what she couldn’t, but her eyes were all for the notebooks and glasses and other toys. Much of her joy coming from the knowledge that “the guy downstairs give me GLASSES” and “MY NEIGHBORS BUY ME THESE.” When we ran into a neighbor this morning, she and Bean fell into a quick conversation about rain boots, butterflies, and Halloween costumes.

Using our vertical city community to help our food-intolerant kid was easy and the right call, I think for everyone.

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