Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Halloween was a raging success this year. We started working on the fear issues months ahead of time, visiting Lowe's no fewer than 5 times a week to deprogram both kids out of residual holiday terror from last year, but particularly Monito, with the scary battery op witch who cackles, stirs her cauldron of spells, and - most notably - blinks her leering red eyes when the motion sensor detects small children nearby. We started out with them in the cart squeezing shut their eyes while I raced by at top speed, ignoring the Walmart-like greeter Lowe's now sports by the doors. We graduated to the same thing but on foot, and the kids would peek at the witch from the safety of the paint aisle, 40 feet away. By the time Halloween was upon us, they were both sauntering by her and pulling up her skirt saying, "Look, Mommy - she doesn't even have legs. She's PLASTIC, not real." I was so proud.
We did buy a couple of used costumes, but mostly they outfitted themselves from our dress up box. We did two events this year, the local grocery store's trick-or-treating on Thursday, and then for the first time we actually walked around in the dark going door-to-door asking for candy.

Monito, their buddy Captain America, and Pequita, all ready to go. With a little coaching about what constitutes a good house to approach (decorations, porch light on) the kids took off. Captain America was a trooper, methodical and diligent in his careful collection of treats. Monito couldn't get past the CANDY! in his PUMPKIN! and had to stop and eat piece after piece. Pequita was clearly more interested in the thrill of the hunt, and raced from house to house screaming LIGHT ON! LIGHT ON! as she speed walked the neighborhood. Clearly, we'll be graduating to the bigger hunting grounds next year, the Mecca of all things Halloween, Fall Creek. It is 10 square blocks or so of densely populated neighborhoods, where nearly everyone participates. These are the people who have to shell out the big bucks so they don't run out of treats on the toddlers by 8 pm when the serious trick-or-treaters start their rounds.

Our first year in our house, four miles out of town, no sidewalks, rural but still populated, we were visited by only one family. A woman saw all our hopeful decorations, artfully carved pumpkins, lights blazing and stopped her minivan full of kids to come to our door. As they each took a couple pieces of our mounded bowl of candy, she explained that we wouldn't get anyone at our house; all the families from three towns head down to Fall Creek where the candy is dense and easy to get. I was crushed. Luckily, I had lots of candy in which to drown my disappointment. She was right, too - we have never had any other trick-or-treaters since. We are raising a generation of soft kids. I remember ranging far and wide for our candy as a kid. We had to pass by swamps, fields, deserted houses and dark forests between houses, which really made it more fun and scary.

My kids had a few pieces of candy on the actual holiday, then traveled with their Mama on Sunday. Monday was candy day; right before naps, I handed them each their loaded plastic pumpkin full of candy and told them that they could eat all they wanted. Oh, the rustling, the deciding, the laying out of options and game plans. That was all Pequita. Monito just started eating and kept going until I said stop. My boy, he can concentrate like the dickens. After that, I told them that in the night, the Great Pumpkin was going to come and trade in all their left over candy for a toy, and in their bloated, sugar-sick state they seemed a little glad to hear it. The next morning found a few Little Critter Pets (or whatever they are called) and a stuffed Max and Ruby doll in place of candy, and everyone seems to be happy with the holiday.