I have to admit that I don’t really like Halloween. As an anxious kiddo, to have scary, creepy things wandering around, to have the lack of control of the chaos that Halloween produces- was a bit overwhelming. The laughter is too loud, the activities too frenzied and the movements of trick-or-treaters too erratic. I’m glad when it’s over. The season of fall- the season is wonderful! Halloween, not so much.
It is, naturally, my husband’s favorite holiday. He loves to be scared with horror movies- a feeling I have never enjoyed and certainly never sought. He loves the plethora of candy. He loves the dangling skeletons and the creepiness of it. However, even he doesn’t like the dressing up. I laughed with him that I feel like I’m in costume and acting out a role every time I go to work- I don’t need the stress of coming up with yet another persona for one day. It’s hard enough being “On Top of It All Professor” and “In Control Mother”. Adding “Sexy Witch” or some other costume to the roles that I juggle every day is too hard.
This is not a feeling shared by my neighborhood. We live in a neighborhood that we call Mayberry to our friends. The moms all stay home, there are children everywhere and they all go outside to play. And on Halloween, they let out all the stops. Everyone decorates their house, there is a Halloween parade in the park in front of our house, and everyone from the whole county comes to our neighborhood. Some houses play spooky music and all of the houses outdo each other in decorations. Golf carts hauling hay wagons cruise the streets. One parent stays home to hand out candy-inviting grandparents and friends over- and the other grownups mill in the streets, often drinking adult beverages and refilling them at various houses while the children go house to house.
In the midst of all of this hoopla, keeping the children on an even keel is difficult. They get overwhelmed as well. Elizabeth handled it fairly well this year. She and Ray are often called Thing 1 and Thing 2 as nicknames by Vicki (along with Little Ducks and chilDREN). Because Emily is often around, she has become Thing 3 in an inclusive approach by Vicki. Elizabeth and Emily were discussing what to be this year- because OF COURSE they’re going to go trick-or-treating together– when they thought of being the Things. Ray, in his contrary way, refused to join the group, so by default, Emily became Thing 2.
Elizabeth got very task-focused about Halloween. Halloween became a job of how to get the most candy- which meant that she was going to stop at every single house in our neighborhood. She loved the attention. Elizabeth is, to put it mildly, an attention hog. She sings, badly and off-key, but loudly at shows. She never has stage fright. She is a born performer. Halloween is right up her alley.
Emily… Emily became an adolescent right in front of my eyes. We started off, and Emily got sulky- quiet and glowering. I had to ask what was wrong, and she whispered “People are laughing at me”. I got irritated and firm and pointed out to her that of COURSE they were noticing her outfit- it was an outfit designed to attract attention. They weren’t laughing, they were noticing- a fine distinction she couldn’t make. She continued to sulk and hide until she realized that with cute outfits comes extra candy- that the houses were commenting and giving her extras. THEN, the outfit became ok.
I was reminded at how close adolescence is for my two- where, in the words of Rick LaVoie- the job of the adolescent is to avoid embarrassment 24/7. I can’t help but wonder what variation of this Elizabeth will have… she’s behind Emily in this respect, too, but for once, I’m not sorry about this delay.
And Ray- the pressure of dressing up got to Ray. He wanted to be everything “cool”- he couldn’t make up his mind for the longest time. He wanted to be a cop, a military commando, a Star Wars character, a ninja. He couldn’t decide which one would make him look the most “cool”, be the most strong and be the most tough. He first chose Prince of Persia outfit, which was great, until he realized that the costume was a size 4- and it fit. Short, but it fit. That made him feel small. Then, he liked the Roman helmet with the sword. But by the time Halloween came, he had lost the sword, so he wanted to carry his futuristic looking water gun. Everyone asked him what he was, and since “Roman Prince of Persia from the future” was too long, he opted for “From Star Trek!” One very nice man at a house said “Oh, I remember that episode!” and I could have kissed him.
Ray also quit trick-or-treating early. About half way around the circle that is our neighborhood, he asked to go home. It got to be too much for him. His tics started in earnest that they couldn’t be hidden any more. Elizabeth and Emily were on Operation Candy, so they were determined to hit every house. Ray went home to help Daddy hand out candy- a task that he enjoyed because he was in charge again.
But the greatest part of Halloween for all of us was the end. Elizabeth quickly sorted her candy- rows and categories- accounting for what she had achieved. Ray also organized, but he wanted to revel in the haul.
We all went to bed, exhausted, sugar-sick, and glad that Halloween comes only once a year. And next year, Elizabeth and Emily have decided to go as Georgia/Florida cheerleaders.