Thursday, November 03, 2005

Screaming Meemies

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Halloween is a season, a major holiday -- and it isn't getting its due respect.

People take off for both Thanksgiving and the day after. Same with Christmas. Who's taking off for Halloween and the day after? I think it's time parents nationwide come together and demand a national day of rest after exhausting ourselves in the name of a big sugar quest.

Ryan's seasonal Halloween parties kicked off last Thursday with a party at his kindergroup, which is separate from his kindergarten. Then, Friday, he had a nighttime Halloween dance at his regular school.

Cara: HE'S going to a dance at night? No fair! They're all midgets at his school! Why does he get a dance at all, and we get nothing?!

These were all valid points, that, as usual, I didn't have counterpoints or answers to. Ryan's school is for kids in kindergarten through third grade. The fourth through eighth graders on our side of town go to Cara's school. What can I say--Ryan's school PTA is more inspired? They're still energetic? Their spirit hasn't been drained yet? I don't know.

But they threw a kick-butt party replete with a deejay, an Elvis impersonator, snacks, games, hand tattoos, goody bags. Afterward, Ryan said, with a good amount of exhaustion in his voice, "I had a blast." Soon to be followed by, "I'm hot. I want my costume off." No matter that we were in the middle of the sidewalk. I told him he had to be a Storm Trooper until we got home. "I'm a Clone Trooper. And I'm thirsty, too. Can we stop for a water bottle?" We live four minutes from his school. Come on!

Cara meanwhile went with Mike and his cousin Dave to the Chiller Theater expo. Even though she's a huge Harry Potter fan, I thought this event would be too creepy for her. Think biker bar meets gore fest, and that's what I remember of the people that attended the show when I went about a dozen years ago. She was into it, though. She got some vintage creepy comic books and cookies that looked like severed fingers, so she stopped begrudging Ryan his dance party.

The next day we went to my brother Joe's Halloween party. He and his wife Jen rented a moonbounce and a cotton candy machine for the kids, none of whom went barf-o-rama after that combo, either. Cara wore her Corpse Bride costume to the party, and changed in and out of it into jeans every time she wanted to go on the moonbounce. She didn't want to rip the costume -- even though it's a dress that's purposely shredded on the bottom. The party was also educational because one of my nephews broke down the difference between Clone Trooper and Storm Trooper, and some other trooper that is just like a Storm Trooper but is blue. Hey, at least I stopped calling Ryan a Storm Trooper. After about 6 1/2 hours, we decided to roll out while the costumes were still intact.

On Sunday, we went to the New York Botanical Garden with my friend Barbara and her daughter Alex for its Haunted Halloween Walk. It was more fantastical than scary, with creatures dancing among the trees to the sounds of a flute or ancient drums. The kids got to wear their costumes again, too, so they dug it. It was all very arty, which wasn't lost on Ryan.

Ry (about half-way through the walk): I'm thirsty. And I want chips.

At the end of the walk, the Garden had set up snack tents. Barbara offered to buy Ryan a water bottle and chips. He accepted the water bottle, but the chips weren't the kind he's used to getting in the Garden Cafe. He wasn't about to eat Baked Lays! He wanted Miss Vickie's gourmet chips! Like Mike, who will drive 10 miles for a good bagel, and 20 miles for good pizza rather than eat "some crap," Ryan held out for the real deal.

Of course, that meant we had to hear him talk about the chips while on line for the shuttle, while ON the shuttle, while walking back from the Children's Garden. I think Barbara wanted to bean him with a fantastical club.

Monday -- Halloween Day -- was a blur. (Read the following like the coke-fueled, pre-bust scene in "Goodfellas.") Ryan wore his costume to school because he had a class party first thing in the morning. As one of the class moms, I got to make goody bags that morning for 16 kids, and then attend the party at 10 to hand out the food and drinks. After class, we drove home to begin carving pumpkins. Forty-five minutes later, I had to pick up Cara--so she could change into her costume. Both kids had Halloween parades. I made them lunch and then we went to Cara's shindig. Twenty-five minutes later, we bolted for Ryan's school parade, then home to continue carving pumpkins. After Cara came home, the real Halloween fun kicked in. Cara, Ryan, his buddy Andrew and I went with Alex, Barbara and a bunch of their friends to trick-or-treat. Then Ryan's friend James joined us. After three blocks, the group split up. A few blocks later, Cara was ready for me to drive her back to Alex. Ryan and Andrew continued on with James and his dad. Meanwhile, I phoned Barbara to get her twenty, dropped Cara off, and then got Ryan and Andrew who by then were at James' house. We emptied Ryan's and Andrew's 10-pound goody bags so they could carry on with empty bags. I put Andrew's candy and the boys in the car, tracked down Alex, Barbara and Cara, and got them in the car. Then we all trick-or-treated down Andrew's street, which has 30 houses that were all candy jackpots. Andrew and Alex were wiped out, but Cara and Ryan's "never say die" attitude was contagious. If there was a doorbell to be rung, they were ringin' it. The kids had about 17 pounds of candy each. (Being good conscientious parents, Mike and I will make sure we eat most of Cara and Ryan's.)

Finally, we dropped Andrew off at his house, Barbara & Alex back at their's, and convened at my friend Annie's, where a pizza & beer party was in full swing. Thank God. It was 7 o'clock. I'd had no lunch, and a fun-size M&Ms wasn't cutting it. Despite tight parking, I found a space directly in front of Annie's house. Why? Because I knew what was coming and was determined to head it off.

Cara: Can we trick-or-treat our way home?

Like I said, a national day of recovery must be mandated....

--Catherine Schetting Salfino