Growing up, I remember picture perfect Halloweens. Costumes with those weird plastic faces that you couldn’t see out of and after the bust, homemade ones. To this day, my favorites are Sleeping Beauty and a gypsy. My little brother made a dashing Casper and the cutest hobo clown ever. When we lived in Brownwood, all the neighborhood kids hit the streets right after dinner, strolling the sidewalks until dusk. Then it was back home to sort and inspect candy, trash the fruit, and get some pre-bedtime gorging in before vigorous tooth brushing.
When we came to Midland, Halloween just got better. We discovered the school Halloween carnival! Cake walks, apple bobbing, egg races. And costume contests, our eager faces all lined up along the stage in the Fannin Elementary cafeteria.
I want a piece of Rockwell-esque for my own babies. But there are no young children in my neighborhood. Almost no one comes to the door any more, and when they do, they’re invariably costumeless teen-agers carrying pillowcases. But I don’t begrudge them. If they take the candy, I won’t eat it, so it’s a win-win. But I miss all the sweet faces and costumes and camaraderie of Halloween in the 1980’s!
So when one of our church friends invited us to come with them on their neighborhood hayride a few weeks ago for Halloween, I was in! I was going to get it right this year. Last year, we never even left the house for trick-or-treating. And I have no photos of them dressed up. Though my kids didn’t notice, I inevitably felt I robbed them of something they won’t even remember. This year, I was doing it right.
We hit the local pumpkin patch for pumpkins and a photo opp. I bought costumes at the beginning of the month instead of the day before. Both of the kids wanted to be Batman, which set Little Son off. “But she’s a giiiirrrrlll! She can’t be Batman!” Umm, Little Son, girls can be pretty much whatever they want to be, I replied. So classic Adam West Batman it was. But I added a tutu and glittered her mask, because I saw it on Pinterest and thought it was precious! He chose the blue Bold and the Brave Batman muscle costume.
I managed trunk-or-treat on Wednesday and school costume parties Thursday. Sugar high, napless and amped up by games and two days of revelry, the kids were starting to crash that afternoon. And when I say crash, I mean right into me and right off the rails. Little Son would not stop poking his sister with a glow stick in the back seat. Bodacious dropped a – poke – shoe. Ear splitting screeches. More poking. Then she dropped Piglet. Now she is sobbing and (poke) screaming. Poke poke poke. He is cackling like a madman and I am trying to think straight in the crazy afternoon traffic. My eardrums feel like they are being assaulted by ice picks. Desperately calling the Hubs. Mommy needs a time out. Like five minutes ago. Hubs can’t leave work yet. So we stop by his office for a few minutes of kisses and high fives and me standing outside the car taking deep, centering breaths of exhaust fumes. Then it’s off to the grocery for chips and dip for the pre-ride dinner. Tired kids and tired moms at the store is a bad combination. We leave with five minutes until the hay ride party starts.
By the time we get there, I am exhausted. Having young children is for young moms, but I am in it to win it tonight. The kids are, of course, refusing to put costumes back on. And I don’t even care. I bring them inside and ask one of the other sweet moms to help me with the costumes if the kids change their minds. Dinner, diaper change. We are ready. And I am secretly praying the Hubs will get here in time because chasing the two of them up the streets and keeping them from falling out of the trailer is starting to seem a little Mission Impossible. And now Bodacious is stinky. Guess who is out of diapers? This mom! Bum a diaper off the hostess. OK, now we’re really ready. Everyone has loaded up onto two trailers. Oh please oh please oh please GET HERE husband. Whoo-hoo. There he is! And we’re off! Oh this is so much fun! Kids in costumes are everywhere. Happy homeowners on porches passing out candy, this is SO much fun! Oh man. Guess who is stinky again? And guess who is still out of diapers? Yep, this mom! And I have no idea what to do. None of the other moms brought diaper bags either and we are far from home base. Man, she’s ripe. And I don’t know the other mom I am sitting by so this is awkward. But I am still in it to win it, so I am gritting my teeth and smiling and acting like nothing is pungent.
And the kids are having so much fun! Running up and down the street, back on to the trailers, waving at every person they pass like some bizarre circus homecoming parade. And by the last stop, it is dark and cold and I am wiped out. Just in case you are wondering, fatigued, fat and flip-flopped make for graceless trailer entries and exits. I dumped over the edge for the final time and watched my kids shovel popcorn balls into their little mouths. They were ecstatic. Chattering with the other kids, bopping and fist pumping to the music. We have all had so much fun. Stinky, sticky fun, but fun nonetheless.
As I sit here this morning, searching for peanut butter cups within their candy piles, my whole body hurts. Falling in and out of trailers strained muscles long forgotten. My house is a wreck, they have eaten crackers for breakfast and this column is really late. But I don’t care. I am going to sit right here and savor. Savor those memories of delighted squeals and huge smiles, beautiful children, and parents in love with being parents. And peanut butter cups. I am so going to savor me a peanut butter cup.