Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A scary story...

It was late on Halloween night. Tired, we were making our way home down the dark, unlit street in our quiet neighborhood. Our older two boys dragged their feet and bags full of candy as I pushed our youngest, only 9 months old, in his stroller. Suddenly, the stroller bumped into something unseen on the road. I nudged it a few times, trying to get past the mysterious obstacle, maybe a pothole? The object blocking the stroller's wheels seemed soft, and I dreaded that I had collided with an animal, dead on the road. The stroller still wouldn't move, and then the baby began to cry, panicky and loud. I cautiously bent down, shuddering, loath to touch whatever I would find on the road, creepy and awful. Horrified, I realized I had been jamming my stroller into my own baby!!

Thanks to his adorable Halloween costume, a Swee' Pea outfit, we weren't able to buckle the strap between his legs and he had slipped out of the stroller onto the street. Yes, I was ramming the stroller into my child's body with a medium amount of force. That was a frightening Halloween experience I will not soon forget.

The happy ending of the tale is that the little guy is just fine, and luckily no one else witnessed my terrible motherhood mistake. In a few years, I am sure someone will laugh about it, most likely his older brothers. They adore Halloween and honestly so do I. We encourage dressing up in costumes year-round, but Halloween is when we let loose. We dress up the house, including a 7-foot ghost in our Tree of the Dead, bloody gauze hanging on our front porch, and a skeleton rising up from the grave.

Halloween also gives us a chance to play with skeletons, bats, spiders, zombies and monsters. Even though there's an thrill of fear in their faces when I give them a ghost that lights up, wiggles, and moans threateningly, it's usually accompanied by a screech of excitement. Giving them toy monsters seems to relieve them of the unknown, the mystery that contributes to the uneasiness of scary, dead things.

I mean, how frightened can you be of a skeleton if you can move its' bony arms around and shout to your brother, "I'm making the skeleton put his hand in his butt!"

Sure, skeletons have butts. So do ghosts. Giving them butts makes them more human, more foolish, less different and less scary. Our Halloween is more like Day of the Dead, because we make it more of a party and eat a lot of sugar. We don't talk about the Devil and spirits walking the earth. I do this for my own self-preservation, because I'm plain terrified of most of that stuff. And I'm also pretty scared of talking to my children about death.

It came up recently though, when D. asked, in his direct way, a question that sometimes sneaks up and scares me.

"What would you do if me, A., M. and Daddy were all gone and dead?"

I kept my face calm and said I wouldn't know what to do.

"You would just have to grow more babies!" he suggested, like I'm some kind of cockroach able to spawn haploid offspring. And off he went to stick his skeleton's hands into his skeleton's nose and butt again.

To him, it's all a game, and I'm fine with that. Let them grow up laughing and not fearing things in the dark. I'm scared of a lot of things, real and unreal. To me, there's a good chance we have a werewolf in the neighborhood but we don't know it yet. To him, I can just grow more babies anytime I want. To me, my family is a precious, irreplaceable gift that I never take for granted.

I love Halloween. When we contemplate death, and how it often takes from us the ones we love, we are firmly reminded to love every minute with them and put on our costumes, play with our fears, and laugh in their faces!