I got into a Twitter war with a St. Louis Public Radio journalist about the most St. Louis thing ever.
I will fight you on this worst take ever.— Aisha Sultan (@AishaS) October 22, 2019
OK, maybe "war" is overstating it since we both liked each other's points and counterpoints. But Alex Heuer did taunt me with this gif, so we can call it a Twitter squirmish by St. Louis standards.
As a native Texan, I first encountered the joke-telling holiday tradition when I moved to St. Louis, and I immediately loved it. What's not to love? Adorable kids in costume telling corny jokes. My personal favorites are the ones that don't make any sense or when kids flub the punchline and their parent helps them out. It would be a better world if we were asked to tell silly jokes more often, I say.
So, I replied with this vigorous defense of the tradition.
1. gives kids a chance to talk to adults in their neighborhood— Aisha Sultan (@AishaS) October 22, 2019
2. they practice learning and telling a joke
3. it's v. low stakes bc they get candy anyway!
4. overcoming a little awkwardness is a crucial life skill
5. it's the cutest tradition ever
Children growing up in this phone- and tech-addicted age don't have as many opportunities to converse with adults in awkward exchanges. This low-stakes practice with treats helps promote useful life skills. And for some children with anxiety, it can be empowering to have safe opportunities to practice skills such as talking to strangers or reciting a joke. Heuer pointed out that what may seem low-stakes to some can be terrifying or traumatizing for others.
I hear ya, but...— Alex Heuer (@alexheuer) October 22, 2019
1. causes anxiety for some kids and it’s supposed to be a fun holiday
2. some adults go too far with it especially after drinking
3. I’ve experienced some adults not give candy if kids don’t have a joke
Others chimed in their own bad experiences.
It's mostly an excuse for adults to have power trips while claiming to teach life lessons.— David Semmelmayer (@DSemmelmayer) October 22, 2019
Right. I just love it when non-verbal kids get the joy of trick-or-treating sucked outta them bc some schmoe adult needs to hear a joke to initiate the transaction.— Brianne E. Gerzevske, MA, CFRE (@BrianneGCFRE) October 23, 2019
Halloween can be a more challenging holiday for some children, such as those with life-threatening food allergies or special emotional or social needs. Parents have to work harder in these situations to create a safe and fun experience for their child.
One Twitter user offered a good compromise.
I usually tell the kid a joke. If they don’t laugh, no candy.— Kevin Korinek (@_eternalcowboy) October 22, 2019
I'm still a fan of the St. Louis jokes, but the conversation was a good reminder for adults to be understanding if a child balks at sharing a joke when asked. Don't push them, don't scold and for heaven's sake, don't deny them a piece of candy.
Maybe it's an opportunity to offer a joke of your own.