He is standing in front of me in his cardboard box, arms pinned to his sides.
I am picking bits of duct (duck?) tape residue off of my fingers and wondering if my bathrobe will be able to be de-wizarded.
“Does everyone like Halloween?” He asks me.
I pause for just a bit too long.
“Do YOU like Halloween Mama?” Images flash before me.
Trick or Treating with just my parents. Getting egged in Seventh Grade after being invited to walk the neighborhood with the cool kids. Feeling fat in my slutty cat costume in my early 20s. Sending servers home for showing too much skin at my restaurant. Oliver puking. Tears over stuffing plump arms into small bumble bee costumes. Annoyance as all of our candy is stolen. Rotting pumpkins on the walkway. My changing awareness of costumes that cause offense to wide swaths of people.
Today my gripe with Halloween is the elementary school parade. We received an email a few weeks ago with these delightful details:
Parents will wait for the costume parade to start outside after drop-off. Parents will stay on the outside of the cones set out.
The parade will be outside starting on the west blacktop. The parade will circle the building traveling in a counterclockwise circle. Students will exit the building through the doors by the auditorium and walk around the school on the blacktop and sidewalk, ending on the east side of the building. Students will walk through the building and exit near their party table to celebrate. Classroom parties will take place following the parade outside near their designated tables on the blacktop.
But for now my eleven year old is standing there in his box, on the edge of turning cynical. He is too young to catch my Halloween grinchiness. So I focus on the positives.
Toddlers thrilled to ring doorbells. Oliver, now in seventh grade, getting invited to Trick or Treat with friends. My cat’s love for my colored wig. Not having to monitor anyone else’s costume. My sons’ lining up instead of throwing up their candy. My boys making their own costumes and donning them with ease. Delight in Reese’s. Creative pumpkins lighting our counter.
Steve and I decide to attend the “celebration.” We are surprised to arrive at school to find NO CONES. Where will the parents stand? Despite the email using the word “outside” three times it turns out the parade will be inside due to cold. When we make it to the auditorium it emerges that parents are supposed to be inside the cones. Everything is backwards. So we squeeze in like sardines and I complain about the heat.
Crammed in between the cones waiting for my big fifth grader to take the stage for his photo op I look at the gap toothed smiles of the smaller kids. They are Dorothy, Hermione, dipping dots. There is only one ninja. Their faces light up behind their make up as they catch the eyes of their squished parents.
I lean into Steve and whisper. “Let’s be prepared for Leo to be stoic on stage.” Between his stage fright and his Halloween questioning I am ready for a silent protest. I am wrong however. He bumps forward in his box with an enormous smile on his face. As his class, the last one, gathers on the stage to pose for the iPhone photos his almond eyes are crinkling with pleasure.
He likes Halloween.
That is enough for me.