A Tall Trick or Treat Tale
By Jeanne Robertson
I once read a letter to an advice columnist from the mother of a tall girl.
She explained that at Halloween her daughter had gone trick or treating with friends. At one house a woman judged the youngster by her height and proceeded to inform her that she was too old to trick or treat. The daughter was embarrassed in front of her peers and had returned home
in tears. The mother's letter went on to discuss the woman's rudeness
and how her daughter had been mistreated.
Granted, the woman at the door had been insensitive, but maybe it was the mother of the tall daughter who reacted poorly. Too bad she didn't
have what my mother had, ingenuity. She could have used a dose of it.
A similar situation illustrates my point.
When my classmates and I were seventh graders in Graham, our parents decided that we could go trick or treating one last year. Then, on Halloween night, some of my friends said that they didn't want me to go with them. I was already 6'2" at thirteen. They thought I was "too big" and stated specifically, "People will think we've got a grownup along. We won't get as much candy." (Wasn't seventh grade fun?)
I was crushed and went home to tell what happened to my mother. Mama listened intently and could have said, "Well, you didn't want to go with them anyway. Stay home and we'll pop popcorn."
But she didn't. She was determined to influence me to see the humor in the situation.
When I finished relating what had happened, Mother rose to her full 5'5" height, looked up and proclaimed, "You can go trick or treating, Jeanne. We just have to get the right costume."
The costume turned out to be two sheets. Mother tied one around my waist, and jumping as high as she could, she threw the other one over my head. "Now, crouch down low," she instructed, "and
hurry and catch up with everybody."
It was wonderful! I bent my knees which took me down to half my size and waddled along with the crowd. My friends thought it was hilarious. I did too. At each house, I practically pushed my buddies out of the way, rang the doorbell and thrust my sack forward. "Trick or treat" . . . and brought the candy in. My sack was filling up, and I was having a ball. Unfortunately, I was having so much fun
that I began to forget to crouch down.
At one house, I ran ahead of the pack and rang the doorbell. A woman answered and there I was, standing a full six feet, two inches tall under those sheets. I stuck my bag out. "Trick or treat."
The woman took a big step back and grinned as she looked at the mass of sheets in front of her.
Then she turned and screamed, "John! Come out here and see these two children one on top of the other under these sheets!"
It's not easy to walk up a sidewalk trying to wobble under sheets as though you were two people.
My friends were howling, having arrived just in time to hear the woman's remark. They fell on the
grass laughing. I ran toward home, glad that the sheets covered tears trickling down my face.
When I told Mother the story, she was faced with an interesting choice. After all, she had used her ingenuity to influence me once, and it had apparently backfired. As a parent now, I also realize how her emotions were probably churning. No mother enjoys her child feeling ridiculed, however slightly. Surely now she would say, "You don't need those people. You've got cousins in Alabama. Let's go
to the movies." Right? Not a chance. Mama knew that sometimes it takes more than one try. She
put her thinking into high gear. In a few seconds her eyes widened and she jumped up and ran to
the kitchen. I heard her rummaging around as she shouted, "We've been missing the boat!" In a few moments she emerged carrying ... a second sack. "From now on," she announced, "you go as two people!"
I caught up with my friends, clutching two sacks under the sheets and standing proudly at six foot two. At each house, I stuck out one sack with my right hand up near my head and in a high voice said, "Trick or treat." And with my left hand, I stuck out the second sack near my waist and boomed
in a deep voice, "TRICK OR TREAT!"
Guess who went trick or treating every Halloween until she was twenty-three years old?
Jeanne Robertson, professional speaker and author, can be reached through