When you are a mother, some things happen on their own. Kids grow taller, even if you don’t feed them all the right things at all the right times, and even if you miss a few well-child checkups. They can even learn some manners on their own through some combination of peer pressure and osmosis. They can start to learn to read through curiosity and immersion in the words in their environment.
But let me assure you: there are some things that absolutely do not happen on their own. Among these are celebrations and traditions. In this particularly series of thoughts, I am here to tell you that Halloween does not happen on its own.
We had a Halloween Emergency on the eve of Halloween. You may not think that such a something can be labeled an emergency, but when you realize the night before – and now with only hours left – the Halloween morning parade and breakfast party that the costume your son has chosen is not school approved, you have your very own Halloween emergency.
I picked the boys up from school and we took Murphy to the vet. You see, pet care can somewhat happen on its own, but annual rabies shots and thereby reservations for a pet kennel do not happen on their own. There are two things I hate to spend money on: 1) cars, 2) dogs. And there is consistently one place I routinely try to avoid being enclosed in with my children: small exam rooms at any kind of medical office, be it for animal or person. Already we were not on a great track for success.
During the appointment at which we learned that Murphy is in every way healthy except for some tartar buildup on his little doggie teeth in the back of his little doggie mouth, for which he will likely never get a professional cleaning let me just say right now with full honesty, I learned that Tyler’s costume du jour would not work according to the school’s stipulations for costume propriety.
I support their rules: no hats, no masks, no face paint, no weapons, no blood, no scary, no a-few-other-things. But when I invested in Tyler’s costume (and I do mean ‘invested’, since celebratory paraphernalia are something I feel very fine about spending money on), and when he chose to be Minecraft Steve, I merely recognized that his costume was not in any way violent, scary, or bloody.
But I forgot to notice that his giant cardboard head would receive two strikes as both a mask and a hat, and of course the styrofoam sword was the third strike. Without the head and the sword, he was merely a kid in a blue t-shirt and jeans. And I wouldn’t even let him shred the cuffs of the jeans, even though Minecraft Steve’s jeans are. Because I am in a few ways unfair and unrealistic and sub par in my bush league costume standards.
Even though I’d like to say it doesn’t matter, and even though there are some things I’m willing to let not happen, let me also confess that if you suggest to me that my son might someday say something that begins with “Except for that one year in second grade when everyone else ____ but I couldn’t ____ and I will never forget that one mishap in my mom’s preparation,” I will always and forever give in.
We went to WalMart in search of a ‘simple’ costume.
Did you know that on the eve of Hallow’s eve, the only costumes left at WalMart are for the child who is seven months old and would like to be a sunflower, or a person of any size who might like to be a banana? This is all there is.
Since Tyler was in no way willing to dress as either a baby daisy or a giant banana, everything in our world began to unravel.
To add to the challenges at hand, I also had my first WalMart To Go delivery arriving between 8-10 pm. Never mind that I was presently at WalMart. And also, I shall probably not sign up for that time slot ever again. But that story is for another day. Right now we are talking about costumes that are not Minecraft or daisies or bananas.
Anyway, I had a delivery coming, I had boys with homework and showers and bedtime routines that were sketchy and inconsistent, but still. I had a child who decided that the only thing that might cure his Halloween broken heart was if he could please, oh please, carve his pumpkin.
Oh, right. Pumpkins. Add these to the list of things unavailable among last-minute Halloween stock.
It’s possible that my mom encouraged me many times to get pumpkins earlier in October, and it’s possible that I believed the supply of pumpkins would be endless, or endless enough that I could wait.
After an emergency-Hail-Mary-phone-call to my dad, he swept in and took Tyler to the real-deal costume store to find the very best size-8-or-medium simple costume that could be found on short notice.
He took over that task at hand while I went in search of pumpkins. I’ll spare you the details of that particular search, except to say that I resorted to negotiating the decorative pumpkins in charming harvest baskets in the produce section. As in, “Excuse me, but could you please lift this tray of cookies so I may disrupt the basket underneath so I may have the very last pumpkin-colored carvable item in the store? Even though I am likely to learn it’s actually a squash? Seriously. I don’t care. I just need something my son can carve and violate with a tealight candle.”
All of the above happened.
When we all returned home from our various errands, now with pumpkin squash and a red ninja costume sans sword, they felt compelled to dress in their costumes so they would be ready for school in the morning. but it wasn’t until they were dressed in said costumes that they remembered their teachers asked them to wear clothes under their costumes to allow for easy post-party wardrobe changes.
Off with the costumes. On with the pants and shirts they would wear under their nylon/polyester costumes, all of which they would sleep in and the very thought of that makes me sweaty. But whatever, guys. Just don’t ask me to sleep in such nordic layers.
And still, they woke me at 6:32 am, asking me to help with their gloves and belts.
My loves, my heart, my very blessed cherubs, give me one more hour of silence, or else.
The good news is: Halloween happened and our home is sufficiently stocked with candy. And last night, after he counted his piles of sugar loot, and while we read bedtime stories and he wore his red ninja costume that he hasn’t yet taken off, he leaned in and said, “Mommy, you really are the best.”
And this is why I’ll probably do all of this again. There is actually no probably about it.
p.s. I do realize Halloween comes every year, pumpkins are available weeks in advance, and the school guidelines were printed and published clearly and certainly somewhere. I know that all of this could have come together with just the teensiest bit more foresight and planning ahead. So, people whom I love, please do not write to me and tell me how much better I could do with a list, a mom calendar, and some forethought. Please just know that I am somehow irrevocably not like you. And also, you can feel Robb’s pain.