A Sylvan Lake mother is urging people to be tolerant and kind after her son’s first trick-or-treating experience was cut short by some judgmental remarks.
“It broke my heart,” said mom Jessica Boyko, to learn why her husband Mike and son Preston came home after only half an hour of going door-to door in their neighbourhood on Halloween.
The two had excitedly left the house on Sunday evening dressed as Buzz Lightyear and his buddy Woody from the Toy Story films.
It was Preston’s first Halloween expedition to collect candy, explained Boyko.
Her son was born with a genetic condition known as Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, so has only lately been able to eat solid foods. Since the three-year-old, who’s the size of an infant, is nonverbal and can’t walk for long distances, Mike was carrying Preston while also picking up candy for his son’s bucket.
At two different houses people made comments about why Mike was collecting treats for what they thought was a baby.
“They assumed he was taking candy for himself,” said Boyko. ‘They said things like, ‘Why is dad holding the bucket when he’s taking it for himself…?’”
Saddened and humiliated, Mike decided to cut the night short while the Boykos’ six-year-old daughter, Madelyn, continued trick-or-treating with friends.
“No one knows the story the other person is living,” Boyko later posted on Facebook. “My mama heart hurts tonight…”
She was overwhelmed by the public response. Through nearly 400 likes, 88 comments, and 49 shares (as of Wednesday), Boyko heard from a lot of kind, supportive people. “I give to all at our house…everyone is welcome. Sorry your son had a bad experience,” one woman wrote.
Unfortunately, other negative Halloween experiences were also brought to light by some of the commenters.
One woman’s 12-year-old had been turned down for candy at three houses, judged to be too old to be trick-or-treating. “I can’t image what was said to my 14-year-old who went out with friends,” the woman posted.
Another commenter complained a neighbour wouldn’t give out candy unless the kids said, “trick or treat.” “You come to my door, you get candy. Not dressed up, I don’t care. Tonight is about having fun,” the woman added.
Boyko wishes everyone had this attitude — especially in light of two pandemic years when children haven’t had a lot to get excited about.
She believes kids should be allowed to be children for as long as they feel young. “They are going to be adults soon enough.”
Even grown-ups with developmental disabilities, who are still children mentally, should be able to continue going out for Halloween fun if they want to, she added.
While many candy offers were made for Preston, Boyko said her daughter is happy to share with her little brother. She stressed she didn’t write about the experience to get candy, but to highlight the importance of being kind.
Boyko posted a reminder for next Halloween, written by Dr. Al Griffiths. It states: Please keep in mind that a child who’s grabbing more than one piece of candy might have poor fine motors skills; who doesn’t say “trick or treat” or “thank you” might be nonverbal, who looks with disappointment at your bowl might have allergies; who isn’t wearing a costume might have sensory processing disorder or autism; who looks too old to be trick or treating might be developmentally delayed.
“Please be accepting, patient and kind.”