Numbering Your Halloweens!
“My kids are skipping Halloween this year!” What in the world?
I was chatting with a work colleague whose children were hands-down the most enthusiastic and creative Halloween revelers I knew. I was stunned they were opting out. Was it a punishment for some transgression? Or an unmovable conflict? Were they diabetic? Perhaps they had developed a rare form of amnesia?
“Nope,” my friend assured me, “they simply have lost interest.”
Right there is a snapshot of the speed of parenting, of why we must relish our days with our kids; one day they'll lose interest in all of the Halloween nonsense!
If you have short people at home, you might, MIGHT have 12-13 opportunities to celebrate together. This is NOT the weekend for business trips, staying late at the office, or even a date night. This is the time to throw your nutritional ideals out the window, get to know your neighbors, and embrace the ridiculousness of this tradition.
From what I can gather, ten years into parenting, there are phases most families go through:
Year One: A Sack Of Potatoes
No one embraces Halloween more than first-time parents. I think people dream about what costume they will use on their little nugget with an eye for blackmail in later years. My niece was a corn stalk her first year, and I don't think she ever stopped crying long enough for a happy picture. My daughter was born in December so she wasn't a complete sack of potatoes, but the costume was still all about my interests (and that I called her bunny).
Year Two: The Squirmer
Peaks of independence mark this phase. Your kid may or may not have an opinion when you're shopping for a costume,but they definitely let you know if they don't want to KEEP the costume on (and they have the will to squirm right out 'em).
Year Three: Scaredy Cat
"Real" Trick or Treating begins and the short people pull out the shy act. Who CARES about free candy? The wee ones are still hooked on Cheerios, so the thought of approaching a stranger isn't appealing. This might be my favorite stage!
Year Four: YAY-----zzzzz
By this phase, kids know the thrill of candy, but they are MOST excited about their costumes. They spend ALL day geeked up in their costume and spend all of their enthusiasm before hitting the streets. This is the year for meltdowns where they really REALLY want to be out, but their bodies won't cooperate!
Year Five: CHEEZE!!
This is the start of the Golden Years of Halloween. Energy levels are unrivaled and cuteness is at its peak. They love pictures and let you take as many as you like. This is also when you run the risk of annoying everyone one on Facebook and Instagram.
Year Six: LOOK MOM! LOOK DAD!
Happiness abounds! Attitudes are generally great (and if not, they respond well to threats of losing candy), and laughter is at its peak. This might also be the loudest Halloween, so consider using ear plugs.
Year Seven: Let's go kids!
Pay attention this year because your kids still look to you for approval and direction on their costumes and their evening activities. Soak it up! Eat the cuteness with a spoon.
Year Eight: Where are the kids?
Everyone knows the drill in year eight when the kids start running off in packs. As a parent, you're not freaked out about this subtle change because these are kids from the bus stop and down the street. Still, at the end of the evening, you're a little unsettled because you didn't even keep up with the roving band of ninjas and your pictures are lousy.
Year Nine: Can my friend walk with us?
In year nine the kids start using pillow cases for their loot and they are more interested in running around with their buddies than with you. The best thing is, you like their friends!
Year Ten: I’ll meet you back at the house...
The begging to roam the neighborhood by themselves is in full bloom. Don't give in. Just hang back and be cool. This may be your last trip around the block with the cool kids. Being weepy will not help your cause - nor will constant picture taking, so lay low! The one exception is if you let the boys pose as if they are in a rock band.
Year Eleven: Don't embarrass me, mom!
I haven't lived this phase yet, but my friends assure me it's coming. By this stage, it is decidedly uncool for parents to be on the trick or treating route. Humiliation is a definite risk. I guess I should be careful tonight. Though, to be honest, I'm not sure what I do that would embarrass my children!
Year Twelve: I’m going to my friend’s house tonight
The 12-year-olds in the neighborhood are barely seen on Halloween. I catch them if they stop by for candy late, but otherwise they are hanging out far away from anyone under five feet tall. I miss them already. I love middle school kids.
Year Thirteen: I think I’ll skip Halloween.
I suppose it's appropriate the family Halloween ends as a baker's dozen (or so), but the clip of the years is shocking. I wouldn't miss them for the world! Though I suppose passing out candy until your children have grandchildren isn't so bad...
Count the days my friends, so you can make the days count.
I hope you're making plans to soak in the festivities no matter what stage you’re in!