Different game, memories the same
When it comes to Halloween, there are two kinds of people: those who go all out and dress up in everything from I Dream of Jeannie to Cap’n Jack Sparrow and parade themselves through town to the amusement of all … and those who don’t. I fall into the latter category. Let everyone else go trick-or-treating and run screaming through haunted houses; I’ll stay home and happily dole out candy to the ghosts and goblins that dare knock on my undecorated door. In fact, until now, my family has managed to have our own low-key celebration every year. A few days before Halloween, we’d place the pumpkins on our newspaper-lined counter top and set to work carving, roasting seeds and taking photos of our kids with knives. On the big day, we’d sit down to an early dinner of homemade soup until the excitement built to a high enough tenor it was time to head out the door. My husband gallantly walked the streets of our small neighborhood with the kids, while I sat by a fire with a glass of wine and a good book and waited for the doorbell to ring. Eventually, three happy and tired kids would return home to count candy and shove as much as possible in their mouths before bedtime. With that, our Halloween ritual – short as it was – would be complete.And then at some point I blinked. If it weren’t for the photographs, I would have a hard time remembering the precious pumpkin, the adorable ladybug, the proud firemen. If you want to see your children grow up before your very eyes, just take a gander at the photo album from Halloweens past. This year my kids traipsed through the ‘hood as a cheerleader from the dark side, a businessman who insisted on flipping open his cell phone to ask “Can you hear me now?” at every door front, and a teenager dressed in a Notre Dame jersey and sweats. Oh, wait. That’s what he dresses in every day.This year, there were separate party invitations for all three kids, trick-or-treat plans that didn’t exactly include me, and no one was arranging to be home for dinner. This year, I would be called upon to do hair and makeup in the bathroom at school, retouch it at the ice rink for an after school party, and change the outfit altogether before it got dark. This year, I insisted we still make the holiday fun for our youngest child, but wondered aloud if we should walk a half block behind our oldest child and his friends so he wouldn’t have too much fun.I moaned and groaned like the ghosts in a haunted house about how life is changing too quickly, the pace is too fast for me, I don’t like all the crazy busy schedules and running around that Halloween has turned into for my family. Still my husband and I made a choice to juggle the kids, the parents and the parties and make the most of a Happy Halloween. And somewhere between the delicate balance of holding on to a sweaty little hand in the dark so she wouldn’t get lost, and insisting the bedroom door stay open on a group of seventh-graders who were trying hard to get lost … we had fun.When the evening wore down and we retreated home amid stories and candy highs, I glanced at my family and realized I wanted to remember them this way, too. I want to treasure the busyness of their growing up years as well as the cozy, quiet nights of their preschool ones. Yes, there are two kinds of parents: those who mourn the loss of the quiet years … and those who don’t. Happily, I fall into the latter category. Charla Belinski’s columns appear in the Post Independent every other Sunday. She teaches the parenting course Redirecting Children’s Behavior and writes from her home in Snowmass. Check out her new Web site at http://www.charlabelinski.com.
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Centrists are likely extinct