DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have noticed during my years of passing out candy to trick-or-treaters that there is, on occasion, an infant in a stroller too young to eat actual food, but with a bucket in their stroller and their parents saying “trick or treat” for them.
I usually say something like, “Oh, a baby can’t eat candy,” and don’t put any in their bucket, since it’s obvious that it’s for the parents and not the infant. I will also tell the adults that the candy is for the kids, or sometimes just skip over their bag or bucket. One year, I had an adult get pretty irritated that I said the candy was for the kids.
I feel there is an unwritten rule that trick-or-treating is for kids, not adults. Just like I don’t think that an adult would go sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what they want for Christmas, or have someone hide Easter eggs for them, or have the tooth fairy leave money under their pillow should they lose a tooth.
My husband suggested I ask you: Am I being a candy Scrooge? Should I give candy to infants and adults?
GENTLE READER: It should not surprise Miss Manners to hear that an adult shameless enough metaphorically to steal candy from a baby is willing to use that baby as a shield against adult criticism.
But it does demonstrate that the adult is not confident that the angels are on his side; if so, they would have dispensed with the baby.
By refusing candy, you are calling the adult a liar -- and even liars are offended by such an accusation. Better to play along, ask what candy the baby likes, and hand the requested item to the infant. This will cost you one piece of candy, but it is worth the non-metaphorical problem you have now created for the misbehaving adult.