My four grandkids come trick-or-treating this evening with their parents. A grim reaper, a Pikachu, a hamburger with the works, and a firefighter.
And then I hear a small doctor (or maybe he’s a nurse) who’s about five years old.
“Trick-or-treat,” says the wee medical professional dressed in blue scrubs, pinned with a name badge. He smiles and looks at me with anticipation, holding out a small white bucket. His mother is standing with my daughter-in-law.
“I don’t have any candy,” I say. I didn’t buy any because I decided not to pass out candy. What I have in the house are four plastic zip bags with small toys, fancy pens and pencils, and lip balm for my grandkids.
The wee medical guy repeats, “Trick-or-treat” because surely the lady who just told him she doesn’t have any candy is confused. It’s Halloween. There must be candy.
I go inside and grab the four bags of goodies for my grandkids. As I slip the goodies in their trick-or-treat bags, I keep apologizing for not having something for the wee lad in blue scrubs. His mother says that it’s okay and explains to him that the lady didn’t know he was coming.
The little boy’s cheeks quiver, the corners of his mouth tilt down, and tears fill his eyes.
I’m so sorry, I say again. It’s okay, the mom repeats.
But it’s not okay. He’s a little boy, maybe five. He doesn’t understand. It’s not okay that he’s left out. And he’s too young to understand that some lady doesn’t have candy or something for him. He has done his part. He is dressed up. He has said, Trick-or-treat. He has watched four other kids get a treat, but he is getting the trick.
I think about finding something for him. I think about my purse. I have things in my purse. It’s like Mary Poppins’s bag. But there is nothing fun in my purse for the little medical guy.
Because we’re all standing in my driveway, I think about my van. Bingo. I have toys in my van.
“Wait a sec,” I say. I open the sliding door and look at several small toys. I grab a Minion because when you wind it up and push down on its curl of hair, it vibrates. Perfect because the wee fellow in blue scrubs deserves something fun, something interactive, something to evaporate his tears before they slide down his cheeks.
I hold it in front of him and demonstrate how to make the Minion vibrate. I place the pulsating toy in his hands, and his face lights up, like I’ve just handed him a beautiful beating heart.
I back up several feet and tell my grandkids and little medical dude to line up so I can take their picture. This Halloween my annual picture will have five children in it. I want that sweet little boy to feel welcome, not left out, so I only take pictures of all the children together.
Later I look at the pictures. My four grandkids are smiling at the camera. But little medical guy? In every picture, he is holding the Minion cupped in his hands, smiling at it like it’s a newborn he just helped deliver. It’s Halloween, it’s a time of pretending, it’s sweet spooky magic.
I’m glad I keep stuff stashed in my van. Medical dude doesn’t know it, but when I look at the picture of him looking at his Minion treat, and I see his smile, it’s clear that he gave me the better treat.