Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Halloween That Wasn't

There comes a time in every mother's career when you have to ask yourself just how far you'll go.
Today, I drew the line.
After a morning out of haircuts and new lunch boxes we ended up back home in time to bake some cornbread and make new trick-or-treat bags for all the little monsters so we could go and party at the trunk-or-treat.
But what to do with the kids to make them help out and earn the privilege of gorging themselves on mounds and mounds of goodies?
Oh, I know I will make them work together in the close confines of the car cleaning out all their random things that never seem to make it back into the house despite repeated reassurances that they will.
What could go wrong, right?
After about one minute of me being inside and them being outside shouting ensued.
Children were called in and warned that if said shouting happened again they would not be dressing in their Halloween garb or collecting any free candy and then sent back out to finish the job.
What could go wrong, right?
In record time they again were shouting at each other loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear. Instead of calling them in again, I went out to observe the situation so I could adequately assess the problem and decide whether or not to follow through with my still very fresh threat.
After about two minutes my oldest finally noticed me watching him.
His look was priceless.
Two children were then informed that we would not be going to the trunk-or-treat.
(Now before you start judging me, it wasn't like we didn't celebrate this pagan holiday on at least two other occasions in the past week. Between work and school this has been a week long celebration. And the dad doesn't believe in limiting their sugar intake. "Just let them eat it all at once and get it over with," he says. And then he of course leaves for six days somehow skillfully missing the sugar high, ugh.)
You would be surprised how not bad my night was.
After the obligatory wailing and gnashing of teeth, I learned a few things about my kids.
One-My oldest has a problem with really beating himself up over the little things. We had to have a very serious talk about why he wasn't the stupidest person on earth.
Two-My middle can be very altruistic. This was something that I already had had glimpses of over the years.
Several years ago when the oldest was told the toy bug (he couldn't be a monster because that was way scarier that the thought of a giant bug coming to collect toys that weren't put away, but I digress.) When the oldest was told the toy bug was coming that night because he chose to play rather than clean he stood fearless of the threat stating that he knew it was just us. Meanwhile his sister is sobbing on the floor pleading that he be given another chance to clean his room.
So today just like then she came downstairs to where he and I were talking and threw herself on the sacrificial alter for him again. She says to me very calmly, and with huge tears in her eyes, "Mom, it was my fault. I was the one arguing and complaining. Please can we go to the trunk-or-treat and I will stay in the car and Eli can trick-or-treat, I know how much he really wants to."
I applauded her on being so giving and making such a grown up decision.
I turned to her brother, who looked like he was holding his breath because he thought I might go for it.
I asked him if he had anything to say to his sister expecting him to say something like, "I don't want to have fun if she isn't." Instead he said,"Yeah, and I can share my candy with her."
Then I told her that I couldn't change my mind because then the next time I asked them to stop arguing and I gave them consequences they wouldn't think I was serious.
This piece of news was received better than I thought it would be.
No wailing, no gnashing of teeth, just quiet disappointment with a side of resignation.
And like I said my night was not so bad.
We had fish sticks for dinner, kid requested and super easy.
The youngest was happy with putting on just the accessories of his costume and going to the eight houses on our street, minimal work on my part and super easy.
We watched Scooby-Dooes and Ben 10s for our evening entertainment, Halloween appropriate and not parentally annoying, super easy.
And there were two volunteers to help hand out candy (with parental supervision, of course).
It was nice to see them excited about giving the candy away. They may have started a new tradition.
We'll see how next year goes.

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