|Photographed in our 'hood by good friend Scott Spanier|
I love Halloween.
I've mentioned before how much fun we have in my neighborhood and how crazy it gets with 600+ ghouls and goblins and princesses and super heroes parading up and down our street for one gloriously noisy, non-stop night. I know, it's not for everybody, but I look forward to it every year. I happily go to Costco and spend half a week's worth of groceries on candy; John and I go together so we can each pick out different kinds. He likes to get the stuff that he likes, so he can have the "leftovers" (that's the "one for you, two for me" pile he secretly makes as he hands out the loot). But I like to get the stuff the kids like, so we'll be a Popular House. I don't go all-out though; I'm not very competitive. No full size candy bars or Pop Tarts. (Pop Tarts! Can you imagine? There wouldn't be any left for the kids if I had 600 of those lying around the house.) Nor do I try to compete with The Best House on the Block: Karma and Randy give out Ding Dongs. Oh, for Pete's sake. Clearly a desperate ploy to get all the kids to like them.
Unlike some of my less enthusiastic neighbors, the ones who plan a quiet escape every October 31st and leave their porchlights off, I don't complain about the vanloads of kids that are dropped off to roam, sans supervision, from remote neighborhoods. I don't mind that there's a fair amount of garbage to clean up the next day. I don't care that there are parents who come through with infants and you think, "Hey, wait a minute! That kid doesn't even have teeth. Who's going to eat his candy?" And I'm more amused - in a Jersey Shore kind of way - than I am disgusted and appalled, by the adult Playboy bunnies / Naughty Nurses who cart their toddlers through. The only costume that ever made me cringe, and seriously question parental guidance, was the ten year old boy who came through as a pimp. A Pimp. Really?
If you remember from my post a couple years ago, (Lesson Learned) we have a tradition on Halloween to which we must adhere. John stays home and passes out candy and I do all the costume work, all the picture taking, and all the making sure that the kids have eaten something remotely healthy during the day before they short-circuit their little systems with sugar. Then, I go out and walk around all evening, with any one of my neighbors who also happens to be carrying a travel mug full of red wine, vaguely keeping an eye on our own children. And I love it more every year I go.
So you can understand how I've been a little teary eyed lately, as I have resigned myself to the fact that Jack isn't going to change his mind: He's not going trick or treating this year.
He's too old. Or too cool. Or both.
All of a sudden, all of my kids are done with Halloween. Just like that. No heads-up last year, no Pay Attention! Take Lots of Pictures! This is Your Last Year!
I'm going to a party.
* Sigh *
God must have known that I wasn't really ready for this, that I wasn't going to cope with this particular End of Childhood Moment as well as other moms might. Because out of nowhere, Tuesday night, a friend called to ask me if Jack might be able to help her out. See, her kid is still in Elementary School, and they're having a Haunted House at school on Friday, and they really need middle schoolers to be monsters.
Hello! I get to make a costume? Of course Jack will help! We'll be there!
So, this afternoon, when I got off work 45 minutes late, in a slight panic, I raced home to get him ready. He was very excited to be a part of this, to be the older kid, the helper, the one who gets to scare all the little guys. We wrapped him up in cheese cloth and painted his face white until he was a pretty darn good mummy. We arrived just in time for him to take his place in the Haunted House. He's The Guide, the one who directs the kids through, then creepily taps their shoulders from behind when they least expect it. I helped out for a bit, in a school my kids do not attend, and never did. I pretended like I was on the PTA and started taking tickets, at the direction of my friend, just like in the old days.
I left there with a huge smile on my face. I grinned all the way home, thinking of him in the dark there, his arms stretched out in front of him, having a blast, being the scary mummy for all the little kids.
My kids might be done with Trick or Treating, but none of us is giving up Halloween.