Thursday, November 2, 2017

Halloween 2017: Stick Girl and the Unicorn

It's bittersweet, how our Halloween traditions evolve as the kids grow older. How many years since I've made them ice skulls to dissolve with salt and liquid watercolors? How many years since hammering nails into a giant pumpkin was their very favorite holiday activity?

How many years since we've spent the whole, entire day of Halloween doing festive Halloween activities? Not this year, since Will needed to take yet another practice SAT exam in the morning, and Syd needed to spend half of our city's official trick-or-treat hours in ballet class.

Jack-o-lantern carving remains the funnest, though, although I do believe that this is the first year that the children wanted to try using stencils instead of making their own faces. I miss those original, kid-created faces, but the stencil designs are lovely, too, and I think the kids are even more pleased with them:

My favorite Halloween tradition now is one that we've only been doing for a couple of years, because it only works with these big, independent kids. One evening in late October, we have a Halloween feast, with each member of the family responsible for choosing and preparing her own Halloween dish completely independently. Syd made breadstick bones, which I forgot to get a photo of, we ate them up so quickly. Will made worms in dirt cupcakes:

I was boring, in that I made mashed potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts--not Halloween-themed at all, but we needed some vegetables in our bellies!

Matt was the most interesting--he made both this zombie brain cocktail, which looked a LOT better than it tasted--

--AND this meatloaf mummy:

It was the hit of the party, for sure!

It was also delicious.

On another night, Syd decorated our homemade pizza to look like a monster:

That one didn't actually end up looking monstrous at all, post baking, but we told ourselves that it was quite spooky, anyway, and munched it up while watching Young Frankenstein.

If you have kids of trick-or-treating age, you may have noticed over the years that trick-or-treating events have gotten completely out of hand. As if one night of begging for candy isn't enough (it IS!), in our town you can also go trick-or-treating from our local university's fraternities and sororities the week before (which we do, because it's awesome), trick-or-treating from downtown businesses the weekend before Halloween, trunk-or-treating from any number of churches in the weeks leading up to the day, and this year our annual Girl Scout overnight at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ALSO had trick-or-treating!

 I unabashedly gave out glow sticks instead of candy, because seriously, nobody needs this much candy!

And when we ran out of glow sticks, yes I DID give out apples! "It's NATURE'S candy!" I declared to a frowny-faced tween. Her friend laughed at the look on her face, too, and then immediately took a big chomp out of her own apple right then and there.

The shining moment of Halloween, for parents, is the photo of all the kids in their costumes heading out for trick-or-treating, excitement on their faces. Every year, however, we are ever more ruled by Syd's ballet schedule, and not only did she have Nutcracker practice instead of the fraternity/sorority trick-or-treating this year, but for the second year in a row (and I think it'll be the same next year, sigh...), she had ballet class ON Halloween. And that class ran until 7 pm!

And that's why I have separate photos of the kids this year. Here is my unicorn:

And here is my Stick Girl!

Just between us, assembling this costume is one of the worst things that I have ever done in my life--just maddening. Agonizingly frustrating. Tedious. And you had to pretty much do the whole thing from scratch every time she wanted to wear it! I was practically in tears each time. And yet it was so, so worth it!

I bought Will two strings of battery-operated LED lights (and we could have used three), with the understanding that we'll use them someplace else afterwards--I think they'd be great for lighting up a campsite, for one thing. I also bought her a black hoodie and black sweatpants--thank goodness for Goodwill! She painted her face, and then Syd and I taped the lights directly to her clothes. The lights do have sticky backs, but you still have to tape over them with clear packing tape to make sure they really stick. You also have to do the math to figure out how to arrange them so that you don't run out before you've got everything placed, and yes, I DID have to pull one set off and redo it every. Single. Time.

But just look at what you end up with, and ignore my super loud, high-pitched giggling:

It's even more hilarious in person.

Thanks to Facebook, I noticed the absence of a few trick-or-treater photos this year. It seems that some kids Will's age, and even some kids a year younger than she is, are no longer trick-or-treating. I have to admit that I'm relieved and thrilled that it never so much as occurred to my big kid, thirteen whole years old, that she might be too old to trick-or-treat. She and her buddy, who's within a week of being her exact age, both dressed up in the two most elaborate costumes that I saw all night, and both hit the neighborhoods hard, walking for hours, happy as clams. We for sure saw bigger kids out and about, too--I saw a high schooler whom I know from fencing, out with a pack of people her size, all happily trick-or-treating, as well.

I don't want my kids to cling to childhood, exactly--don't we all know some people our age who do just that, and it's not that great?--but I don't want them to feel like they have to abandon it, either, before they want to. I want them to savor all these small experiences, the trick-or-treating, the pumpkin carving, riding bikes and camping with their friends, dressing up dolls and building with LEGOs, without any pressure to change themselves or fit in with someone else's perception of what an eleven-year-old or what a thirteen-year-old should be doing and enjoying. I mean, one year they won't even WANT to go trick-or-treating, and that's the year they should stop, and not one year before.

And certainly not this year, when Stick Girl and the Unicorn had the time of their lives, were driven home in the dark, and then sat on the family room rug and spent the rest of the evening sorting their candy.

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