This year Halloween was slightly hectic. Between snowstorms and grad school and parent/teacher conferences, we plain old forgot to carve our pumpkins. To be honest, the kids didn’t even notice. When we lived in New Hampshire, our house was smack in the middle of a tiny historic town that morphs into a ‘destination’ every October 31st. Newfields was an amazing little town that required tons of Halloween preparations in order to keep up with the Joneses. I wouldn’t have been caught dead with uncarved pumpkins!
Here in Maine, we live on a very private dead-end road where the neighbors are all well-aware of who’s coming and going (for the record, we all sport guns and vicious attack dogs so don’t go gettin’ any ideas about stalking.) Two Halloweens have passed and nary a kid has rung the bell asking for a treat. This is fine with me, because now I don’t fall prey to those last-minute “oh shit, I forgot to buy 30 bags of candy!” runs like I did in New Hampshire. I’m only slightly exaggerating by the way. Our candy budget was HUGE back there in Newfields!
This year’s Halloween preparation included schlepping into the attic to pull down the costume bin, calling the girls, taking off the lid and telling them to pick their poison. We’ve amassed an impressive assortment of costumes in this house. The first one we ever purchased was the year Joe was 2 and he was a tiny and adorable Frankenstein. He stomped his way through the neighborhoods of Brighton, Massachusetts cluelessly accepting vast amounts of candy from complete strangers. Candy that no two year old has any business eating but we were new parents and weren’t going to be denied the experience of dressing our new human in a ridiculous outfit to parade around the city.
Now, thanks to her older siblings, Kate has a Halloween wardrobe that rivals the best costume shops. Okay, not really… She has a choice of Marie from The Aristocats, Tinkerbell, approximately 5 busted princess dresses and that Frankenstein costume.
After I removed the lid, the girls leaned over the costume bin, squealing with delight and began hurling costumes into the air. Kate pulled the Frankensuit out and gasped. At first I was concerned, thinking maybe the black hairline and ghastly green pallor had somehow disturbed her.
“What this, Mommy?”
“Oh…Fwankenthein,” she breathed, fingering the silver neck bolts with the same reverence of a grown woman who somehow stumbled upon the Hope Diamond among a box of crappy costume jewelry.
“I be Fwankenthein.”
Kate latched on to that Frankenstein costume with a vengeance. I truly thought she’d cast it aside for something pretty as the big day approached but took a step back and let her make the choice, because that’s what all the experts suggest, right? We should give toddlers a sense of ownership over their appearance to help them develop their independence. As if Kate needs any help in that area.
Halloween arrived and at lunch, while the girls stuffed their faces with grilled cheese sandwiches, I broached the subject of costumes to verify their choices and get a handle on the amount of face-painting I’d be performing at crunch time.
“I’m going to be a witch!” Gwen exclaimed.
“I be Fwankenthein, you knucklehead!” Kate declared, as if I was a complete fool, her tone implying, how many times do I have to tell you that, lady? Sheesh.
Having waited until the last possible moment to come up with Joe’s Bug-EyedVampire Mummy costume, I was happy the girls remained decisive. I spent the afternoon destroying a white king sized sheet to construct a mummy wrap. In the name of all things Halloween, I sacrificed one of our king-sized sheets for Joe’s costume, spent 20 minutes tearing it to smithereens, and then soaked it in the bathtub with tea bags until the wraps reached the appropriate level of faux mummy filth and decay. I ran the mess through the spin cycle, threw them in the dryer then spent 40 minutes de-tangling a ball of pricey tea-stained sheet strips that needed to be ironed. At the end of the day, Joe’s costume was awesome. His self-esteem got several healthy boosts during the evening as kid after kid stopped to gawk at him before declaring his costume, “awesome”, “really scary” and “That mummy looks sick!” Let me tell you something, there’s nothing better than watching your seven year old swell with pride after Harry Potter stops to compliment his ghoulish appearance.
But Kate…Kate was a sight to behold. She watched me paint Gwen’s face witchy green and apply several strategically placed brown warts and decided that she needed to look like a “scawy Fwankthein.” I plopped her on the kitchen counter and rubbed her face green, painted some black stitches onto her cheek and gave her a distinct black unibrow. She was thrilled. She added a bit of her own flair by picking her nose and making it bleed. At first I was appalled but then realized that the blood lent a dose of realism to her costume and left it intact.
We drove to the neighborhood that’s best for Trick or Treating and the kids piled out of the car. Kate tromped her little Frankenfeet along the sidewalks, climbed step after step and collected candy from house after house where the people naturally assumed she was a little boy. She didn’t care. Soon her little pony tails worked their way from under the Frankenstein hood and she performed her little Katie wiggle dance while singing “Twick or Tweat, smell my feet, give me sumptin’ good to eat!” Dave and I watched her with delight and smiled at each other as we soaked up her funny little personality.
With all the confidence in the world, Kate walked up driveways and climbed steps, helped herself to candy and sweetly called, “Twick or Tweat” after her helping of candy was safely tucked in her bucket. It was cold outside and the ground is covered in freshly fallen snow, but she didn’t complain once. After about an hour, Joe decided that he was cold and his candy collection was complete. Gladly, we began herding all three kids back toward the car, stopping at more houses along the way.
Kate spotted a house that Joe and Gwen missed. She made her way up the driveway to a woman in a lawn chair holding a giant bowl of goodies. My tiny Frankenstein, petite in stature with pigtails bouncing, stopped in front of the woman, sang “twick or tweat” and plunged her hand into the bowl of candy. She came up with a handful and moved to dump it into her stash when the woman began prying pieces from her hand.
“Just one piece,” she advised and looked to me for assistance.
It took a second for me to process that this woman with an enormous bowl filled with candy was literally taking candy from a baby. I laughed, assuming she was joking. Afterall, the trick or treaters were dwindling and clearly, she had a shitload of candy to get rid of. Not to mention, she’d engaged in battle with a toddler.
She wasn’t joking.
I moved to Kate’s side and said, “Just one candy, Kate.” I tried to pull some treats from her fist and keep laughing about it, but all the while I was thinking the woman would realize she was being a stingy jerk to a kid barely out of infancy.
“Sorry, but I have a budget,” she explained to Kate and plucked a bag of Twizzlers from her hand.
Kate began crying, stomped her clunky Frankenfeet and crossed her arms across her chest in a huff. Stingy McCheapo made the mistake of laughing while simultaneously clapping her hands together in fake delight at Kate’s anger.
“You an AHHHSSHOLE!” Kate screamed.
Thank goodness Stingy McCheapo was thrifty enough to have left her porch light off…she couldn’t see my smile as Kate and I joined hands and walked into the darkness.