We should talk about Halloween. Mostly because I have the cat for it.
Actually, I have two Halloween cats, but only Ruby was interested in the pumpkins.
God, Halloween. I have grown to hate Halloween. It used to be awesome because my sister’s birthday is on Halloween, but ever since I don’t live in the same place as her, it is less fun. Now it is just this whole stressful, expensive, sugar-filled, sensory nightmare.
I was talking to a friend of mine and we decided it would just be so much easier if we let our kids go on a candy-buying spree and then locked the doors and stayed home and ate candy all day on Halloween.
But no, you’re not allowed to do that. There are all these little hoops that you have to jump through, some of which Team Stimey accomplishes better than others.
Hoop one: Pumpkins
Pumpkin carving is awesome, right? Except every kid has to have their own pumpkin, but they are too young to go about whacking at a pumpkin with a butcher knife, so what really happens is that Alex and I end up taking orders from our kids about how exactly they want a perfect six-point star for a left eye and a square for the right. And this comes after we have to scoop out the insides because…ick, pumpkins are slimy and smelly and the children couldn’t possibly be asked to put their delicate little hands inside there.
Honestly, it was kind of impressive that Sam even agreed to be in the same room with the pumpkins.
It was totally worth it though, because he took knife in hand and carved his pumpkin entirely by himself for the first time. I LOVE it.
Hoop two: Getting the costume to school
This only applies if your costume is bulky.
Quinn’s was bulky, but hilarious, so it was okay. I laughed every time I saw him. Also, it is apparently difficult to walk with a box on your head.
Jack’s school makes their costumes in the classroom, so I didn’t have to lift a finger for him. Now, that’s what I’m talking about.
Hoop three: School parties
Ugh. I think the only people who have a harder time than parents with school Halloween parties are the poor teachers who have to supervise them. Of course, kids love them.
Well. Most kids.
Sam is in middle school now, so he didn’t have a Halloween party at school, but Jack and Quinn both had theirs at exactly the same time. I wanted to go to both, but that ended up not working out, what with my not actually being two people.
My wonderful friend who has a daughter in Jack’s class took photos of him, so I can show you his costume before I launch into the story of Quinn’s party.
Jack has enough joy to spread around. I like that about him.
Then there is Quinn. Quinn is afraid of many things. Halloween is a really tough time of year for him. He so badly wanted to go to his class party and get all the treats there, but he was absolutely terrified at the idea of walking in the costume parade—even with a box on his head to obscure his vision.
Quinn and I hung out in his classroom while the rest of the school marched around the halls. We spent our time drawing cats.
I gotta tell you, Quinn has a tough life. I’m not being sarcastic. I have a ton of sensory issues, so I understand a lot of what he goes through, but he is really intense. He must be on edge all day long waiting for the next assault.
A kid at a different table opened up a bag of sour cream and onion potato chips, sending Quinn running out to the hall, where he stayed until I made him come back inside. He was uncomfortable even being around that student after he was done eating the chips. It was as if he sensed little chip-dust particles floating around him.
Quinn must be on guard at all times—for sensory stressors, for things that scare him, for things that make him gag and throw up (e.g. chip dust). It makes sense that he can be so irritable. I’d be irate too if I had to be so entirely vigilant all the time.
Hoop four: Costumes
I usually try to not spend too much money on costumes. Sometimes we make them, sometimes we cobble them together out of stuff we have, sometimes I buy them, one memorable year I had someone sew one, and this year I threw a million dollars at Amazon and had them send me two insanely expensive boxes for Quinn and Jack to wear.
They were both extremely happy and extremely cute about the whole thing.
Hoop five: Handing out candy
Here’s something: Phish always plays a much-anticipated show on Halloween, which means that Alex is always gone. This means that I get to take my kids trick or treating by myself at the same time as I hand out candy at home. This usually entails me putting out a bowl of candy and hoping teenagers don’t take it all before we get home. (See above comment about not actually being two people.)
This year, Sam stayed home and gave out candy. He was so adorable about it. He took his responsibility very seriously. He also totally channeled me later in the evening when we still had a ton of candy left and he started shoveling handfuls of it in trick-or-treater’s bags.
And he didn’t even get kidnapped from our house, which was my primary concern in letting him stay home and answer the door at night—something I expressly refuse to let him do when he stays home alone.
Hoop the last: Trick or treating, a.k.a. Kill me now
I can’t even. I mean…I just can’t.
Usually trick or treating is exhausting. My kids all run in a million directions and I end up shouting at them to stick together and they don’t and it is a whole thing, but they usually have a really good time. Except when they don’t. Like when Quinn sees a costume that scares him and he can’t relax because he is working so hard to avoid seeing it again.
This year was a perfect storm of nightmare. My kids and I were heading out of the house to meet our neighbors who we were going to trick or treat with when my cell phone rang. It was my insurance people looking to take a statement on my car break-in. I was all, “I can talk to you and walk my kids up the street,” because, yeah, evidently I’ve never met my kids before.
I was almost done talking to the woman on the phone when we ran into our neighbors. Jack ran up to his friend and hugged her. Quinn’s friend, who, incidentally, was wearing a mask that Quinn found terrifying, came up behind him and said, “Boo!” (He didn’t know Quinn was scared of the mask and was just trying to hang out with his pal.)
Quinn lost it.
He shrieked, turned around and ran home.
I made a quick Sophie’s Choice, decided Jack would be fine with his friend, and ran home after Quinn, hanging up on a disoriented insurance agent as I searched for Quinn, whom I eventually found trembling under his bed.
After that it was me (and the neighbors) juggling my sobbing kid and the neighbor’s sobbing kid and finding Jack and trying to convince Quinn that there weren’t terrible things around every corner, because he really did want to trick or treat and even if he didn’t I had to FIND JACK, and thank God for the people who had pets in their living rooms because petting animals finally made Quinn relax a little, but the neighbor kid never recovered and went home and never came back out and dear fucking God, I’m just glad that I have an entire year before Halloween comes again.
Also, it rained.
So. Happy birthday to my sister. Can’t wait until next year! The end.