Rants from the Crib

An Ob/Gyn gone mad

Archive for the tag “Halloween”

Halloween Tricks

My mom and I were contemplating my daughter’s Halloween candy, which is scattered all over the foyer rug, when she said, “My dentist hates Halloween.”

“Oh,” I said.  “I guess it is bad for kids’ teeth.”

“No,” she said, “It’s not that at all.”

“Oh?” I said.

“He says it’s the parents,” she said, beginning to smile.

“The parents?” I said.  “What do the parents have to do with it?”

“Well,” she said.  “He says it starts a week or two before Halloween.”

“Before Halloween?” I asked.  “What starts before Halloween?”

“He says the parents get into the candy the week before Halloween.  They eat the chocolate and the caramel and they all come in with their crowns pulled off.”

“Crowns pulled off?  Really?” I said

“Yes,” she said, beginning to chuckle.  “And then the week AFTER Halloween comes.”‘

“What happens then?” I asked.

“Oh then,” she said.  “The parents have taken away the candy because the kids have eaten too much.  But the parents start picking through their kids’ candy and start eating stuff they like, which usually involves caramel.  And then they come in with their crowns pulled off again.  And then there’s the week after that.”

“The week after that?” I asked.  “What could possibly happen the week after that?”

“Well,” she said.  “By that time, the good stuff is all gone.  They’re left with the hard candies that they don’t really like, but they aren’t going to let them go to waste.  So they bite into them and they break off their teeth.  So he hates Halloween.  He says it’s the same thing every year.”  She laughed, and laughed, and so did I and tears rolled down her face like they do when she has a really good laugh. 

“Poor Dr. Kilpatrick,” I said.

“Yes, poor doctor,” she agreed.



Pumpkin Guts

I did everything at the last minute this year.  I finished putting up the decorations the week before Halloween.  I didn’t take my daughter to get her costume until the weekend before.  (The Bluebell Fairy).   We bought it on Friday because she had a party to go to on Saturday.  I was pretty much sucky slacker mom this year for Halloween.  The day we got the costume, we also got her hair cut, our toenails painted together, and bought our Halloween candy.  What we did not do was get a pumpkin.  It was cold that day, and we were busy, and it was time to get home for dinner, and I just didn’t do it.  I guess I figured she could do without one.  And my friend, who usually has a pumpkin carving party every year, is not having it this year.  So I guess I made an executive decision that we just did not need a pumpkin this year. 

Yesterday, my husband spoke to me sternly.  “Amanda told me you did not get a pumpkin for her,” he said.  “She says you told her you were too busy getting her hair cut and your toenails done to go and get one.  You know that stuff like that is very important to her.” 

“I’m sorry,” I told him.  “She just didn’t say anything about a pumpkin while we were shopping, and we just weren’t anywhere that they had pumpkins.  I’ll take her to get a pumpkin after work tomorrow.”

Well, tomorrow was October 30, so it was the night before Halloween.  After I picked her up from school, we went first to the little outdoor produce stand where I had seen pumpkins before.  They were closed.  “They don’t have any pumpkins,” my daughter said sadly.”

“Don’t worry,” I told her.  “We’ll go to Kroger where they’ll have pumpkins.”  On the way to Kroger, we passed a church that usually had a yard full of pumpkins for sale.  There was nothing and no one out there.  I began to have a sinking feeling that she was not going to have a pumpkin and that it would be all my fault.  We got to Kroger and they had two sad pumpkins sitting outside that were rotting on one side.  We went inside and there were no more pumpkins.  I began to have a very bad feeling.  My daughter had gone from singing happily in the back seat to being very, very quiet.  “We’ll go to Publix,” I told her.  “Surely they’ll have some.”  We went to Publix and there were no pumpkins outside at all.  Just empty bales of straw where they had been.  “I’ll call Wal-Mart.”  I told her.  “I bet they’ll have some pumpkins.”  I called the Wal-Mart pharmacy, because that is the number I have saved in my phone.  I spoke with the pharmacist who told me they had pumpkins big enough for carving in the produce department.  I shuddered because I so hate Wal-Mart, but at this point I was willing to go anywhere for this little girl whose sadness I had caused by being cavalier about getting her pumpkin.

We went to Wal-Mart.  There were some straw bales sitting outside with some mums.  “All I see out here are mums,” my daughter said sadly. 

“Let’s go inside,” I said.  “The pharmacist told me that the pumpkins were in the produce department.”  We went to Produce and they did have pumpkins, yes, but there were two great big bins with just a few pumpkins at the bottom of each one.  The orange ones were sad and misshapen and moldy on one side.  There were green and white pumpkins in the other bin.  One of the white pumpkins was a decent size and looked carvable.  There was just one small gash on the back side and I figured we could work with that.

“I want an orange pumpkin,” Amanda said sadly. 

“There is only this white one,” I told her.  “If we don’t get this one we won’t have one at all.”  She sighed and I put the pumpkin in the cart.  The place was packed, of course.  We stood in the “express” lane a while and got some gum.  We put the pumpkin in the van and got home fifteen minutes late.  It was almost seven.  Now we had to get dinner and carve a pumpkin before Amanda’s bedtime at 8:30.  I made her a quick peanut butter and jelly sandwich and we set about carving the pumpkin.  I set out some newspaper under the pumpkin. 

I got a knife, and hey, it carved much more easily and smoothly than an orange pumpkin!  I cut out the lid and we scooped out the insides.  There were many fewer seeds and much less pulp than inside an orange pumpkin.  I had her draw on a face and we cut it out.  It had triangle eyes and a snaggle-toothed grin.  I made a flat spot in the bottom and we lit a candle in there.  We would have a pumpkin on the porch for Daddy to see when he got home!  I told her we would get a white pumpkin next year as well.  “This was was so easy to carve and clean!”, I told her.

Amanda was happy.  She had a pumpkin; it was carved.  With the light inside it, it looked orange.  Suddenly a great weight lifted off of both of us.  We had a pumpkin!  We had a jack o’lantern!  I sighed an internal sigh of relief and we put the pumpkin on the porch.  “Everyone will be scared of our pumpkin,” my daughter said matter-of-factly.  It was a given.  It was a great pumpkin.  It would scare everybody.  I felt so much better.  But I still felt guilty.  I had put my daughter’s pumpkin off to the last minute and we had nearly both paid the price. 

Next year, I will get two pumpkins and we will carve them both, much, much earlier.  We will have out the decorations.  She will have a costume.  I swear.


Halloween, believe it or not, is a current topic.  I base this on the fact that my seven year-old daughter insists that as of September 17, the Halloween decorations should be up.  Almost everyone I know who used to be a child agrees that Halloween was (or is) one of their all time favorite holidays.  It certainly was one of mine.  I mean, dressing up + scary stories + getting to go out and play after dark + ridiculous amounts of candy is a recipe for a fabulous good time. 

I had some pretty pathetic costumes growing up.  I was never really consulted on what they were going to be, and I never questioned that.  My mom made the costumes when I was real little.  I was Heidi one year, and Casper the Friendly Ghost, and a skeleton one year.  Your basic boring Halloween fare (except I have no idea how my mom came up with Heidi), and I was fine with that.  My dad would take me and some of the other neighborhood kids out and walk us around the subdivision.  We had a dentist around the corner, who of course gave out apples and toothbrushes.  Booo.  I remember I was enraged and heartbroken one year because some little punks drove by in a car and hit my dad with an egg.  I think it humiliated him and I was humiliated for him. 

Of course, after returning home from trick-or-treating, the candy ritual began.  The bag was dumped out on the living room floor and piles were made:  one for chocolate, one for sweet tarts and other tangy stuff, one for candy of lesser interest, and one for those awful peanut butter chew things wrapped in mustard colored paper that I hated.  Then some serious eating would began, and I would go to bed queasy.  I would hide the rest of the candy in my hiding places throughout the house so it wouldn’t be confiscated.

When I got too old to go trick-or-treating, I gave out candy.  Of course I was never satisfied with just standing in the door and handing out candy; I had to mess with the poor little kiddies.  One year I remember setting up a cardboard box with a red and white plastic gingham tablecloth, cutting a head-sized hole in the box, and wrapping a paper plate with a cut in the back around the neck to make me look like a disembodied head on a plate.  I had my folks help me put ketchup on the plate to look like blood and the bowl of candy was on the table next to me.  I warned the kids in a grim voice not to take too much candy or the disembodied (I don’t think I used that word but I could have – I was a little too precocious for my own good) head would get them.  It was all fun and games until a little girl burst into tears because I terrified her.  I felt bad and tried to climb out of the box to show her I was OK, but I staggered around underneath it and got ketchup on me and convinced her that I was in even worse shape than previously thought.

Halloween as a grown person got fun again.  People started having Halloween parties and we loved them.  Of course, no woman could dress in a silly or awkward costume; we all had to be Playboy bunnies or naughty nurses or about anything else that would allow us to dress in a sluttier than usual manner.  That was our night to shine!  I remember one year my college roommates and I had a Halloween party with a keg in our apartment and on the spur of the moment I invited my parents.  That was unusual because we had been a bit estranged in the previous few years and I don’t really know why I did it, but they came and we had a terrific time.  My dad dressed as a judge (he was a law professor) with a wig and all, and Mom dressed as a witch in all black with a big witches hat with a spider dangling off of it.  They were the belles of the ball and everyone enjoyed talking to them, especially when some of my dad’s law students showed up, and he held court over at the keg.

After I went to medical school and residency, Halloween petered out for me, mainly because I seemed to always be on call whatever night the Halloween parties were.  That was a lot discouraging and made me a bit bitter.  However, when I lived in New Orleans, we had Mom’s Ball.  MOM stood for Misfits Orphans and Misfits and it was a blast.  We wore ridiculous costumes – one year my friend made a cow suit our of synthetic leather material and went as a Nauga.  I wore cowboy boots and fishnet stockings and went as a nauga herder.  After I left New Orleans, Halloween wasn’t really fun again until my daughter came along.

My daughter’s first Halloween she was five months old and I bought her a Halloween costume.  She was a little baby bumblebee with black and yellow stripes and a head band with little antennae on it.  My husband said that he totally didn’t understand why I would waste money on a costume when our daughter had no idea she was wearing it.  And later I took pictures of her in her costume and they became some of my husband’s favorite pictures and then I think he understood.

I did have the order of my daughter’s costumes memorized but the memory is starting to fade after nearly seven Halloweens.  The year after the bee, she was a “guck”.  She had an obsession with ducks that was overreaching, and anywhere we went that we saw a “guck”, she had to have it.  So of course she had to be a guck for Halloween.  We took her to an outdoor street party for Halloween and she so wanted to get in the bouncy house with the bigger kids.  She wasn’t even big enough to get onto it – she was just toddling – but when the crowd thinned out we helped her up and she got to bounce a little bit.  The next year I think she was a ballerina, and she looked so cute in her tights and glittery tutu.  That year she was big enough for the bouncy house.  After that the years begin to blur together a bit; I remember one year she was a monarch butterfly and she made a beautiful one.  Last year she was Cleopatra and that was a pretty elaborate costume.  Oh, and one year she was SuperGirl.  The SuperGirl year was the first year she was interested in having any input into what she wore, and I wasn’t really crazy about the costume but that was what she wanted so we got it.

Every year since she was three, we have been having our daughter’s best friend IA come over to trick-or-treat with us.  IA lives in a neighborhood that is impossible for trick-or-treating, with mammoth hills everwhere and big dark trees and dark streets.  We would have worn ourselves out just walking up one driveway – you can’t even see the houses from the bottom of them.  Our neighborhood is nice and flat and very safe – there is only one entrance in or out and the neighborhood is out of town a bit and people don’t usually show up there unless they have business there.  Now some of the nearby neighborhoods come to ours because it is a fairly affluent area and I guess they think we give out better candy.  Last year IA had a high fever and couldn’t come and I remember we were all so disappointed.

There is one house in our neighborhood that is the ultimate destination and the last stop of the evening for the kids in our neighborhood.  One of our neighbors used to own a Christmas (and other holiday) decoration shop before she became a real estate agent, and for most every holiday, her place is a showplace.  She goes all out for Halloween, with animated ghouls and scarecrows, and groaning noises, and a smokemaker and startling screams.  When A was littler she was too scared to go there but now she’s a proud grown-up girl and she’ll march right up there.  Her friend IA is a little more iffy.

So A wants to get out the decorations.  We have a few – a bat and spider to hang on the foyer lamps and a black cat with an arched back to put on the foyer floor.  We have a pumpkin wreath my mom gave me and a metal haunted house that you can put a tea light in.  We have a fiberoptic pumpkin that I ordered from my nurse long before I had a child and I was just ordering stuff from her Avon catalogue to help her out.  We have spooky black candlestick holders that make the candles sit all crooked and a cute cloth witch with bloomers on who sits on the hutch in the dining room.  Amanda thinks we need more decorations, and I am inclined to agree with her.  Unfortunately, my husband will not allow me to put hay bales on the porch; they cause mold or spiders or something.

So soon we will be shopping for Halloween costumes for A again and I am sure she will be the one to pick exactly what it is (with a little careful steering from Mom) and we will do the Halloween ritual all over again.  We will leave candy on the porch since we will be out with our little one, and with any luck IA will be with us again this year.  This year may be a little different, because for the first time in a good while, I will be on call this Halloween.  I really hope I don’t miss the trick-or-treating, because it is fun to see the kids having fun and it is a good chance to get together with the parents in the neighborhood and get to know them a little better.  Who knows – maybe I will wear my giant green lizard costume to the hospital and deliver babies in my green hat with googly eyes!

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