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Hey, Dad …

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This morning my son broke my heart.

Only he doesn’t know it. And he never will.

I was making the kids french toast before driving them to school. Emmett, 11-turning-12-in-a-few-days, looked up from a book and said, “Hey, Dad, Ben invited me to a Halloween thing at his house. It’s a party, then we go trick o’ treating.”

Oh.

I was silent for a moment. No reason—just silent. Halloween has been my favorite holiday for years and years. I loved it as a kid, but love it 1,000 times more as an adult. The costumes. The candy. The religion-free adherence to awesomeness. God, I friggin’ dig Halloween, and everything that comes with it. Most of all, I’ve cherished the moments with my kids. Back in New Rochelle, we’d trick o’ treat as a neighborhood—dozens of kids sprinting home to home, then back to our house afterward for pizza and a basement haunted house. When we moved to California, the basement haunted house vanished—but the trick o’ treating continued. There are few sounds more gleeful than a child rummaging through a sack of candy, seeking out that one Mounds bar.

And now, it’s sorta over.

My daughter is a sophomore in high school, and ditched me years ago.

My son, seventh grader, is doing the same.

And here’s the thing: They’re right. It’s time to go out with friends, to be independent, to roam sans parental oversight. My best childhood Halloween memories come via walking up and down Emerald Lane with Gary and Dennis and Scott and Bal. Kids need to be kids, and they also need to discover they growing independence.

But it sucks.

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