Halloween with a Pre-Teen, and Then Some.
For kids on the cusp of growing out of trick-or-treating, writing to Santa or make-believe, the Covid Pandemic is pushing them over the edge, maybe a little sooner than we parents would like. Last year, it was ghouls and goblins, decorating galore, and three different costumes (yes, three). This year it's shrugging shoulders, "I don't know" and a lot of "yeah, whatever" every time I bring up getting dressed up for Halloween to my ten-yea- old son.
A few weeks ago, I decorated our Christmas tree with kid-friendly Halloween decorations, and when lit, it creates the same warm fuzzy feeling of the holidays, but with a Jack-o-Lantern on top instead of a star. The kids thought it was fun (my eldest shrugged, then squeezed in a smile) and I needed a good distraction myself, away from don't forget your mask, and wash your hands and did you just cough?
My husband and I decided trick-o-treating was out of the question for us this year. With three children to manage in a small town where friends and neighbors stop in the streets to chat and catch up, we felt we would be safer and less stressed with a special night at home instead.
Everyone, including me was disappointed. I've always loved Halloween, but as a mom, even more so because for once I don't have to cover up the dark circles under my eyes, as if I ever have the time for makeup. Staying home is what's best for us right now, especially since we've already had to get Covid tested (all negative) earlier this fall (not easy with four-year-old, traumatized by the experience) and trying to limit our social encounters so we can still go to school and visit with family at a safe distance.
But for a kid who's big on imaginative play, dress-up, and games, I thought my son would still want to go to school in costume for the Covid-safe activities they have planned today. My instinct was to drag out every old costume in the house, take him shopping or promise to make him a new one when his sad little voice announced he didn't want to participate, but I realized, it's his decision, and I just have to go with it, no matter how desperate I am for my kids to hang on to everything fun this year. It made me second-guess our decision about trick-or-treating, guilty it was one more thing taken away from my kids for something out of their control, but I had to go with my gut.
So, instead of putting the pressure on my kids to have all the fun, I went ahead and remembered what's exciting about Halloween: The Candy! I don't care how old you are, Smarties, Sour Patch and lollipops don't go out of style. So, the house is filled to the brim with chocs and candies, popcorn and chips, all kinds of goodies, stuffed into one glorious pinata that we'll rip open tomorrow afternoon in our garage, decorated with simple streamers, garlands, and a couple pumpkins. It didn't take much time effort or money, and I know the kids, (even the moody one who's all stomping feet and slamming doors) will enjoy digging into some delicious treats. My kids love to bake (although they didn't get it from me) so some simple recipes, food coloring and icing, and we're ready to go.
It's hard finding a way to please everyone, but a little time, a little candy, and voilà! The kids will be smiling, showing their caramel encrusted teeth, quiet (for the most part, until the sugar and caffeine kick in) with their mouths full of gooey treats. I'll take what I can get.
As for giving up on the fun kid stuff we want our children to hang on to for as long as they can, Covid or no Covid, the change is bound to come, and as long as we adults remember to have a little fun, the kids will usually want some part of it too. Happy Halloween!
(A super duper special thank you to educators, towns, municipalities and anyone at home giving out candy, helping kids celebrate Halloween this year. You're Amazing!)