When I was but an innocent young’n, I loved to trick or treat. Who doesn’t? Halloween never goes out of style. That is, until that day on which the child can no longer be called a child, for now they have children of their own. On such a day, the tides turn towards disdain, and the parent– faced with hyperactivity and cavities– finds that they hate the holiday which once meant so much to them.
My mother was missing a tooth that a dentist cannot replace– her sweet tooth. That was one of her biggest character flaws. Yes, indeed, she was toothless, in the sweet sense, and as a result, completely lacked empathy regarding the desire my brothers and I felt for sugar. My father, on the other hand, was the beneficiary of her anti-sugar crusade; he was the disposal system for chocolate and other such sweets.
Allow me to set the scene, one we all know well: You’re five years old, probably wearing a blue costume. You dump your filled pillowcase onto the living room floor. You begin sorting, and your sibling asks if you would be willing to trade one Reese’s cup for two sets of Smarties, but you’re not an idiot. That may have worked last year, but now you’re five years old, and well prepared for complicated trade deals such as these. The economy is booming. Nothing will ever feel as good as this night; you will spend your life chasing this high only to be repeatedly disappointed.
And now, where my story diverges. Candy dumped, trade deals well underway, and bellies half-full, my brothers and I thought all was well. Then the horror came. No movie will ever be quite as traumatizing as this.
“Kiddos! Pick out ten (10) pieces of candy to keep, and the rest is going to the Sugar Sprite!”
My brothers and I looked at each other. We knew of this foul she-beast. This supposed fairy, who–unlike the Tooth Fairy– brought nothing but harm and misfortune upon children. My oldest brother attempted to scrounge up more than ten pieces and stash them, while my other brother and I resorted to sobbing and stuffing our faces with the hope that the sugar would sustain us for the long winter ahead.
Still, like powerless people against an unjust government, we knew we had to listen. My mother began collecting our candy back into their bags, save for the ten pieces each of us had squandered away. Tears flowed like a rainy day on the Nile. The bags were revoked– little did we know, they would be consolidated and given to my father, who would enjoy the treats for weeks to come.
The next morning, we mourned. We mourned like we have never mourned before. And we did so at the start of a three-day sugar crash. The energy in the house has never– before or since– been so so SO low. We had been met with a horrific surprise: our delightful candy had been replaced with small glass river rocks that people use to fill vases. Y’know those fuckers who look like they would taste so so good but break your teeth? Yeah. That’s what we got instead of candy.
The greatest insult came ten years later. When I was fifteen, my mother was a preschool teacher. One chilly day in October, I overheard her talking to the parents of one of her students.
“Oh, my kids loved the Sugar Sprite!”
I found myself running across the room to explain that, “No, her kids did not love the Sugar Sprite. We hated the Sugar Sprite. We still harbor resentment against her for creating the Sugar Sprite. I’ve been through years of therapy in an attempt to undo the harm wrought by the Sugar Sprite. My brothers and I all have a sweet tooth. Y’know who I blame? The Sugar Sprite.”
I always wondered if those kids got a visit that year from the scariest demon that can visit on Halloween. And if you’re considering bringing about the same kind of horrific trauma against your child, allow me to offer this advice: let your child be a child.
Categories: eliza ligon, oct. 26, reflections, vol 25