Sweeping up the confetti
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.