Why I Hated Halloween

Grinning Halloween lantern vector illustration.I wasn’t the kind of parent who produced daily  science/art/math projects for my children, or thought up of special field trips once a week, or was creative in any way.

In my mind, that meant I didn’t stack up any “good parenting” awards. I hated working on anything “arts & crafty,” which included just about everything except reading a children’s book out loud.

So when school began each year, and the air became crisper, leaner, more aromatic, I began to gnaw my fingernails.

Halloween would arrive sooner than I wanted, and any time was too soon.

Because I hated Halloween.

I just wasn’t good at it.

“What can I be this year? young daughter would ask by mid-October.

And every year, I’d respond the same: “A gypsy?”

Halloween, costume, gypsy costumeI have photos of her when she was 4, and 5, and 6 (and beyond!) wearing one of my old patterned skirts and a worn down shirt, strands of costume necklaces, a bunch of bangles, a neck scarf around her head, and lots of red rouge and lipstick.

Viola! A gypsy girl.

My little boy, however, came home with tales of his friends’ moms making them elaborate ghost costumes, or turning them into Luke Skywalker, or even worse, fashioning cardboard boxes into honest-to-goodness real looking silver rockets.

“No,” I always stated. Sadly, yet defiantly. “Your mom doesn’t do that.”papter bag, Halloween

So most Halloweens, my boy insisted on wearing a paper bag over his head, with holes for the eyes, and a pair of my old cowboy boots.

“I’m a monster,” he’d insist, year after year.

But the year our family splurged for a vacation to Hawaii, I got clever.

Not artsy crafty, but clever.

I came home with children-sized Hawaiian shirts, grass Hula skirts, and plastic leis. When I showed the kids their Halloween costume the third week of October, the expressions were less than enthusiastic, but they appeased me and wore them on the 31st.

Halloween costume

Happy Halloween…?

That was the year my boy’s best friend’s mom sewed her little guy a huge green Tyrannosaurus outfit, the kind that could win a ‘BEST KID’S COSTUME IN THE WORLD’ award. Trexbig

My daughter’s best friend’s mom dressed her little pumpkin in a glittery pink and purple fairy queen outfit with gossamer fairy wings and sparkly silver shoes that lit up when she walked.

My children came home from trick or treating early that year, claiming they were tired, no joyous shouts as they counted their candy treasure.

I suggested they change best friends.

Then I castigated myself for not being a good creative parent.

However …

            Every October

                         I read to my kids

                                    a LOT of terrific Halloween books.

That should count, shouldn’t it?

Halloween books, Halloween

How to Embarrass Your Kids

parenting, parenthood, embarrassing, children, parentsOne of the perks of being a parent is embarrassing your kids just by being…you.

Yes, I see the quick smirk on your face. I hear you thinking about the time you sang, “I Can’t Get No…Satisfaction” loudly while standing in line at the grocery store as your kids squirmed in…dissatisfaction.

It’s not like we start out trying to mortify our kids. They initiate it!

For instance – socks. tennis socks, parentsing, children, embarrassing

My man has worn long tennis socks with his shorts since he was a studly 25-year-old, and by god, he’s sticking with those socks (or ones like them) for his entire life. So, when our kids were…kids, they moaned on vacations as we walked the beach together in July, or attended swimming lesson or tennis lessons, or even soccer games, and they had to endure their dad in shorts and “tall” socks.

They’d save their allowance and buy short thick Agassi tennis socks, and stick them in their dad’s sock drawer (and throw out the offending “tall’ socks,” of course). But by that time, tall socks became a symbol of our independence, our stubbornness, and our parenting.

No child of ours was going to tell us what we could or could not wear, or sing, or even admire.

One day I was driving my kids home from a lesson – ballet or soccer or piano or chess or, well, the list goes on. Because we lived off a scenic, hilly road called “Paradise Drive,” we always passed many buff bicyclists. On this particular sunny afternoon, I unknowingly let out a sigh while exclaiming, “look at the calves on that man.”

bicyclist legs, biking, muscles, parenting, children

Well-muscled legs (note the lack of “tall” socks).

My son and daughter both bellowed in two long syllables: “MOOOOOMMMMM!”

“What?” I asked innocently.

“You’re married,” my son expounded. “You can’t look at another man’s legs!”

I came close to muttering back, “I’m married, but I’m not dead,” but instead said, “I’m just commenting on the muscles this guy has built by bicycling so hard.”

No good. My kids were adamant that I should not and could not notice the muscles on any other man but their dad.

Paradise Drive, biking, parenting, embarrassing, kids

On the embarrassing Paradise Drive home.

I realized then that I’d just found a supreme opportunity for future parental embarrassment. So each time the kids and I drove home on Paradise Drive and we passed a well-muscled bicyclist, I’d open my mouth and begin, “Wow, look at the…” And they’d stop me with groans of dismay and the two-syllable pronunciation of my name.

If one of their friends was in the car with us, my children would blush stop-sign red before I even pointed.

Ahhh, the perks of being a parent.  🙂

P.S. I won’t even start with how my stories embarrass my (now adult!) children. Let’s just say, I’m not supposed to write about negligées, sexual attraction, bedroom eyes, or passion (if you’ve read my book THE RIGHT WRONG MAN, you know I still embarrass my kids horribly).  My poetry seems okay to them, though (as long as it’s not about them). Please check out Karen Elliott’s poetry-themed blog this week – she features one of my poems this Friday.