Halloween is my favorite holiday. Well, at least it’s in my top two. Probably Halloween and Thanksgiving. I think just because they’re both associated with food and football, my top two favorite F words. Well, at least they’re in my list of top three favorite F words. The third is probably ‘favorite.’
Anyway, last week, I was joyously leaping around the house practicing my Michael Jackson “Thriller” moves, stringing orange lights across the mantle, humming Witch’s Brew to myself, and making sure my post-candy-binge sweatpants fit. Halloween was coming, and I was ready!
But I have to admit I was a little concerned about Nate’s readiness. As we were reviewing trick-or-treat procedures during lunch one day, I was enthusiastic while he was rather dour.
“And then you’ll get Reese’s and you’ll share them with your mom. And then you’ll get Twizzlers and you’ll share them with your mom. And then you’ll get Almond Joys and you’ll share them with your mom. And then you’ll get Whoppers and you’ll throw them away. Nobody needs those. And then—“
Why is he interrupting me in the middle of my candy lecture?
“Why would we leave the house when we already have candy here?”
Well. What a stinky little grinch.
“Because, Nate, it’s fun!” Plus, it’s free.
He’s like the pesky kid who wonders whether Christmas is about more than just getting presents from Santa.
As the week went on, I met a little more resistance in the form of fickle costume planning. Obviously, he’ll be a Ninja Turtle. Pretty much all of Nate’s decisions since as far back as he can recall have involved his appreciation for red and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He spends half of his waking hours pretending—at least I think he’s pretending—to be Raphael.
And he already has a red ninja headband and plastic sais, just like Raph has! And a turtle shell constructed from cardboard and duct tape that Tighe made for him! Could life get any easier? Throw on some green sweats and some green face paint, and the outfit is complete!
But suddenly, his old sweats and decaying cardboard shell aren’t good enough for him. Suddenly, he has a longing for those cheaply made, overpriced, store-bought costumes. You know, the same ones that most of the boys in his class will be wearing. In not so many words, Nate basically expressed his desire not to look poor while he trick-or-treats.
Whatever, we can handle that. If Tighe and I collaborate and put the right spin on our cheapskate costume plans, Nate will eat it up and love every second of it. It’s called propaganda and it’s effective.
Then, a few days later, I overheard him telling someone he’s going to be Wolverine for Halloween. Wolverine?! Really? Do you even know who that is? But he does because Tighe lets them watch the Marvel Comic movies on Saturday mornings.
Well, guess what, Nate? You’re going to be Raphael. If we switch our preparations to Wolverine, then surely, on Halloween morning, you’ll complain—tearfully, of course—that you wanted to be Raph this whole time. Duh.
So, I decided not to acknowledge his abrupt fixation on Wolverine. Instead, like any good mom, I focused on the candy and the fact that maybe—but probably not—he can bring fake weapons to school.
A few days later, since I officially list “consumer” as my occupation, I hit up Target to buy some green face paint and an orange Ninja Turtle mask for Sam’s complementing Michelangelo costume. It’s made from the exact same material as Nate’s, but the eye-holes are slightly different—too close together—and the ends have been cut at right angles (former math teacher speak here) instead of the more acute angles at which Nate’s have been cut.
Sam was thrilled, and we tried it on his mini face to make sure it fit. Naturally, it covered up his little eyeballs and his nostrils and pressed the tops of his ears down so that he resembled Dumbo. Perfect!
But Nate didn’t think so. And he threw a major tantrum to let us know. Obviously, I recorded video of it to save for the rehearsal dinner before his wedding.
Checking the video (ref speak), his complaints mostly surrounded that right angle chop that I mentioned above. He wanted the “square Mikey headband, not the stupid red one” and “why does Sam get to have it??” Well, I’ve never heard him use the words “red” and “stupid” together in the same sentence before, so we decided to tread delicately here. Just some light propaganda and all should be well.
“But Raph is so rude but cool!” we pleaded. “Michelangelo is just a lame party dude!”
We think it worked. Crisis averted; resume pre-Halloween euphoria!
And then. Exactly six days before Halloween, came Nate’s final—I hope final—attempt to thwart my Halloween spirit. He woke up at 5 AM unable to breathe. He also ruined my sleep.
While Tighe—apparently attempting to be a superhero for Halloween—scooped him up and raced him into our bathroom for a hot steam shower, I selfishly lay in bed and did the mental math.
“Hmm…four days until his costume parade at school…six days until Halloween…might not be enough time…I wonder if Sam’s big enough to collect the amount of candy needed to satisfy my sweet tooth…”
Because I’m not sure how reliable Sam is in such an important matter. His candy bucket is the same size as Nate’s, but he’s not as strong, not as coordinated, and not as fast. He lacks stamina.
What if we only make it to, like, seven houses because Sam’s too slow or sleepy to go any further?
What if he’s so delighted with his first piece of candy that he plops down in the grass and eats it? For the rest of the night?
Or what if he spills his bucket and all the other kids rush over to snatch up his acquisitions? Oh, geeze! Then my Halloween would really be ruined! I can’t sneak my favorite candies from an empty bucket! Thanks for nothing, Sam.
The next few days were spent coddling Nate. It turned out that he had croup and was prescribed some steroids to speed up his recovery. Pretty minor in the realm of health issues, but for a kid who’s never sick, this was a real blow. His self-pity was suffocating. But we allowed it.
“Nate, I hope you’re well enough to go trick-or-treating! That’d be a real bummer if you can’t collect all that candy…” Then, quietly, under my breath, I added, “For me.”
“Well, you and Dad and Sam can go trick-or-treating can bring back candy for me.”
I pondered this for a moment. If I thought I was still small enough to get away with trick-or-treating on my own, I wouldn’t have needed to have kids. Plus, although we free-range parenting advocates are making significant headway, I still don’t know that we’re at the point that we can leave three year-olds home alone. Especially at night, in an “urban” environment.
Note: I put “urban” in quotes because most of my East Coast friends and family believe that we live in a covered wagon on the prairie. Meanwhile, when they discover I’m from Baltimore, people here in KC ask if I know Adnan Syed from Serial.
Anyway, if you’d like to know what the middle of the country is like, come see for yourself! In other words, please come hang out with me. Come save me! I’ll be the thirty-two year-old dressed as Raphael, going door to door asking for candy.