Friday, November 1, 2013

Mommy's a Chicken

You know what I was for Halloween?  While my daughter insisted that I should be a banana, I was just me.  Mommy, in the same earrings I've had since the eighth grade.  They're the most adorable dangly, grinning cartoon bats.  Guess that's why I've hung on to them so long.

As I sat there on the porch with my family, and in more conversations than one, I attempted to cover my embarrassment that I didn't take my kids trick-or-treating by saying I was going as a chicken.

This morning, I have a hangover from the heart behind that comment.

Halloween is another time when our life is way different than I thought.  To start, Richie is not interested in dressing up.  Maelynn would have been, but I couldn't justify the expense.  So I got her a pettiskirt she could wear with other things at other times, and got each of the kids a cutesy themed shirt for the day that would work for other times, too.

As usual, I bought candy for months before the event, making sure that the kids' generosity when they hand out candy wouldn't make for too much of a problem.  I got them little glow-in-the-dark toys to keep them occupied on the porch and to make the occasion a little more cool.  We moved lawn chairs to the front porch, and I made hobo plates (foil packets, perfect for outside) for the adults, and Daddy brought home kids meals from the local fast food conglomerate.

All evening, kids came into the yard with their parents, piling out of mini-vans, cars, the backs of trucks, and even lighted, decorated flatbed trailers pulled by tractors.  It was great!  We saw piles of Eric's and now students I've taught.  We had a wonderful time watching Richie and Maelynn cheerfully spout, "There ya go! Happy Halloween!" as they put candy in each bag and bucket.  After I called out "Be safe!" a few times, Maelynn took the cue and hollered out her safety warning in addition to "Have fun!" to most of the groups as they walked away.

It really was great fun.  I'm grateful that the kids have so far embraced being part of a backward Halloween.  They had the pleasure of pawing through the giant bowls of candy, sampling this and that, before we ever got our first customers.  Richie, who doesn't like candy at all, gave his sister his two treat bags from school, and she combined the two into one small bag that she's happy with.  Ryan had his "juicy red sucker" and was content to play with the iPad on the porch, wandering up to say random echolalic, repeated phrases from videos, complete with his trademark non-understanding of personal space.

He even tolerated Jackie, our carved pumpkin.  Yes, I named her Jackie Lantern.  The littles loved Jackie, and went down the steps to "visit" with her.  She also served the purpose of keeping Ryan on the porch, because he wouldn't walk past her.  Took me about an hour of calling Ryan back up closer to the house before that flash of genius.

The kids were great, Eric, Mother, and I had a great time visiting and watching them.  But I repeatedly broke my own rule all evening.  No one may have noticed, maybe they did.  I hope not.

While I knew in my head that what we were doing was the way we could safely truly enjoy this holiday in a way that we were still involved and seeing members of the community, I felt guilty.  I should be schlepping my kids up and down the street, taking advantage of the opportunity to teach Ryan especially the practice of knocking on doors, saying "trick or treat" and thank you.

But I'm afraid.

The fear of losing Ryan or seeing him run over by a vehicle is just too great.  He does it every time he steps off the bus in the afternoon.  He looks at those bus tires, stimming, and walks fast toward them.  I stick my arm in front of him, holding him safely beside me while he stims from a safe distance on the bus tires as they turn.

I also think the confusion of walking up to doors, knocking, getting something, and walking away would be meltdown-inducing.  I really don't think he'd enjoy it.  Add all that to the fact that Richie doesn't like candy at all, and the fact that they haven't asked to dress as anything ever, and there you go.

They seem to really enjoy our little candy-passing out tradition.  I like that it's an easy way to practice giving rather than getting.  And to tell the truth, that's half the reason we do it this way.  Okay, maybe a third of the reason, but still.  I can't stress enough, they love it.  They look forward to it, and to date haven't begged to dress as anything and go themselves.

All that said, it's only a matter of time till Maelynn or Richie decide they want to go with their friends, or that they want to give this a shot the way the other kids do.  When that time comes, they'll be given the chance to experience how most do things.

I just wish I hadn't felt guilty.  We gave our kids a great time, and who cares if we didn't do things the way everyone else does?  No one judged me, no one put to words any displeasure or expression of how different we are.  Nope, that was all from my perception of what we do.

I'm going to make a public promise to work on this.  My fears for our kids are real, not imagined.  We worked to plan and make a fun time for our kids in a way that would fit, and that's what we're supposed to do.  Like the parents hauling their kids around in cars instead of letting them run free, or the ones walking with their kids, or the ones in a large group in a truck or on a trailer, we've drawn our lines the way it makes sense for us.  Maybe we used a different color, or drew a different kind of line, but it's our line, and that's as it should be.

So I hope your hangover this morning is from candy and enjoyment, not the guilt of how you handled things last night.  I hope you're comfortable and not second-guessing like I am.  If you are, you're not alone, and I hope you can find the same comfort there that I do.

And no more joking that I'm a chicken.  What I did last night was brave... for me.  That's what counts, right?

Thanks be to God for fun family traditions, and for every friend and other community member who came knocking last night... emptying those bowls of candy is such a blessing.

And thanks for the courage to sit on the front porch.


  1. I'm a chicken. I'm scared to death to let my daughter go door to door trick or treating. I'm scared that she'll get too comfortable with strangers who could do her harm. I'm scared of the sickos out there. So far, she's yet to do it. Thankfully there are enough community trick or treating events we don't have to go door to door... yet.

    You do what's best for you and your family. Trick or treating can be fun, but no matter the circumstances it can also be a parent's nightmare. Every day we're all presented with battles, and we must choose those which we want to fight. I think you chose correctly.

  2. We shunned Halloween when I was a kid. To date: I have never gone trick-or-treating and my childhood memories of Halloween consist of Dad taping plastic trash bags to the inside of the front windows to shut out the interior light and deter candy-seekers. (LOL. My dad was such a Halloween grinch!) Trick-or-Treating is really not such a universal childhood experience. It sounds like y'all have a wonderful tradition that is fun and making great memories.


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