Sweep­ing up the con­fetti

The Calvert Recorder - - Southern Maryland Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

To­day’s the day! By the time you’re read­ing this, it’s pos­si­ble that I’ve eaten my way through the candy stash I pur­chased for the “trick-or-treaters” (all nine of them) and have made my way through the bucket set aside from the kids’ party ear­lier in the day.

This is the first year I feel like Hal­loween is a re­ally big deal. Oliver has been talk­ing about it since Nov. 1 of last year, prac­ti­cally, though the “dress­ing up in cos­tume” con­cept was a lit­tle dif­fi­cult to ex­plain. He has no mem­ory of last year’s farmer get-up — and I’m rather care­ful with choos­ing com­fort­able kids’ out­fits in gen­eral.

To the cha­grin of my stylish mother and sis­ter, I’m rather plain-jane with my neu­tral col­ors and sim­ple stud ear­rings. It’s rare I’m not wear­ing black. I like bold pat­terns, and usu­ally drag out a “pop of color” for my work at­tire, but on the week­ends? I go for com­fort.

I’m dress­ing my kids the same way. Though al­ways clean and pre­sentable, I don’t tuck my daugh­ter into ruf­fled dresses or my son in itchy but­ton-downs. There’s a time and place for dress­ing up, of course, and I make sure we all look ap­pro­pri­ate. We cel­e­brated my grand­par­ents’ 60th wed­ding an­niver­sary and Gram’s birth­day on Sun­day, and I man­aged to talk my three-year-old into “real” (i.e., non-sweat) pants. Even my hus­band was im­pressed.

Not sure how I ac­com­plished that, after fail­ing so many times be­fore. But I think it had some­thing to do with dis­cussing “fancy clothes for Gigi’s party” ap­prox­i­mately 20 times in the days lead­ing up to the event. My par­ent­ing guru and work col­league Deb­o­rah says it’s all about pre­par­ing them for tran­si­tions and any­thing out­side the norm.

Hadley is much eas­ier go­ing, but we’re def­i­nitely en­ter­ing the Age of Pref­er­ence. The sass prac­ti­cally seeps out of her. She’s not big enough to re­quest a cer­tain top or out­fit, as her brother does, but she makes her opin­ions known (about shoes, es­pe­cially). She wears body­suits and stretchy cot­ton pants. No need to poke the bear.

Pick­ing out the kids’ cos­tumes this year, my main con­sid­er­a­tion was what wouldn’t cre­ate a melt­down. Any­thing with a hat, hood or wig was out, as Hadley won’t stand for some­thing on her head. We went with a clas­sic: the hum­ble pump­kin. I found a striped body­suit to go un­der­neath, and I think it will be com­fort­able enough for her to wear for more than 30 sec­onds.

But here’s the thing: even if it’s not, that’s OK. I’ve fi­nally ac­cepted that I can’t con­trol my chil­dren. Not all the time. Not in ev­ery sit­u­a­tion. They are peo­ple, and peo­ple feel and react. My kids are hu­man.

If she doesn’t want to wear the pump­kin suit longer than it takes to snap a photo, why force it? She will be mis­er­able. I will be mis­er­able. Be­fore too long, I’ll be wal­low­ing in my “why can’t we just have a nice photo-wor­thy mo­ment?” pit — and that is vain and point­less.

I’ve been down this road, see. So many times. Be­tween my anx­i­ety and just the gen­eral stress of daily liv­ing with young chil­dren, I’ve let my­self throw pity par­ties. Epic ones. Black-tie, even. But once the pity-con­fetti set­tled, I could see the sit­u­a­tion for what it was: me try­ing to con­trol what I have no busi­ness con­trol­ling. Need­ing to learn to roll with the punches. I swept the con­fetti up. Oliver is go­ing to be an ex­ca­va­tor this year. I found an ac­tual foam cos­tume of the con­struc­tion ve­hi­cle that can be slipped over his shoul­ders. It’s light- weight, re­quires noth­ing hot or itchy, and Ol­lie can wear his nor­mal jog­ger pants and T-shirt be­neath. I know he’ll tol­er­ate it — for a lit­tle while, at least — be­cause he’s al­ready run around in it hap­pily for a work event.

So you know? I feel pretty good about this. Bet­ter than I have on many hol­i­days pre­vi­ously. Like sen­ti­men­tal Clark Gris­wold, I can build things up in my head — and when they don’t play out as I’ve an­tic­i­pated, the dis­ap­point­ment can be rough.

Not this year! Not to­day! I’ve taken the day off work to ac- com­pany the kids and their bud­dies on a Hal­loween pa­rade at day­care. They’re hav­ing a party af­ter­ward, and I found vam­pire and ghost tem­plates to dec­o­rate the juice boxes we’re sup­ply­ing. I feel like a Pinterest mom. For a minute, any­way.

Our bucket of sweets is ready, and the fam­ily is com­ing over. We’ll visit our neigh­bors and soak up all the au­tumn good­ness in this busy season.

If it dis­solves into chaos, as most things do, it’s still memorable.

And that’s what minia­ture candy bars are for.

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