Good intentions don't carve themselves

Somebody please disembowel me and give my life meaning

I always start out October with grand plans around Halloween. I set my sights on the first weekend of the month and make a mental note: We need hay bales! We need pumpkins! We need a blow-up mechanical Edward Scissorhands display! I decree that decorations must be out by sundown on that Sunday.

Flash forward to right this very moment: 3pm on Hallow’s Eve when I find myself standing next to the only candy I could find at Costco this morning (rocket lollipops and mini bags of MSG) and a lonely, warty, lopsided, and decidedly uninjured pumpkin. I really don’t want to carve this thing. My MacGyver brain is going into overdrive. A wig? A funny hat? Wait… guilt brain is making a last minute play. Dammit! Where are the rubber gloves?

I like to say that Halloween is my favourite holiday but I always seem let it slide. Not only am I lacking a costume, our three-year-old is going as the same dragon he was last year because his ignorant mother had her head up her ass. The man is obsessed with Paw Patrol. Did it occur to me that a child could be a Paw Patrol character? NO. Did I notice during any of my umpteen trips to Superstore or Costco that Paw Patrol costumes exist? NO. Did I go today in a last minute panic after being made aware of this possibility? YES. What was left? Wonder Woman. Dammit again!

The Main Event

I love the excitement of Halloween. If it’s warm, I love going around while the kids yell at the neighbours, demanding hoards of candy. If it’s cold, like today, I love to stay at home and see all the adorable costumes. I have learned not to make assumptions about who they all are because they get really insulted if you get it wrong.

“Ohhh… aren’t you a scary…. Witch/Zombie Bride/Pippy Long-Stocking!”

“I’m Evie from Descendants.”

“Of course you are, dear.”

I love all of this until it comes time to put the kids to bed. I’ve heard through the grapevine that some people have children who are gloriously immune to things like sugar, late nights, excitement, and unusual happenings. Then there are my children who take the better part of a week to recover from one night of staying up past 8:30. If you miss getting them down during the bedtime window, they get that adrenaline kick and end up bug-eyed and bushy-tailed until after 10. Sweeten the deal with handfuls of food dye and corn syrup and, well, we could re-enact Children of the Candy Corn right here in our living room.

Hmm… that’s not a half bad costume idea. That’s going in Evernote.

I Want It Now!

What’s everyone’s philosophy on candy consumption? There are those who believe children need a chance to learn self-regulation and, therefore, should be given free reign over bulging pillow cases. The theory is the child will eventually feel ill and stop eating. We tried that once at Easter. 47 eggs into it, there was still no sign of defeat. We had to shut it down. That did not go over well.

Other strategies I’ve heard include one piece of candy per age, exchange the candy for toys, exchange the crappy candy or better treats. I suggested that one to E.

“What do you have to offer me that’s better than candy?”

You got me there, kid

There’s even a dentist here in town that does an after-Halloween party where kids can exchange their candy for money, green smoothies and dried apples.

I have also heard of a mystical breed of unicorn children who forget about their candy. I laugh at this, then have a moment of panic over the expiry date on their mayonnaise.

But here’s what I don’t get: we’re all buying candy to give away so that our kids can collect candy that we want to give away. There has to be a better way. If it hadn’t been for that fictitious razor in the apple, we would all still give away homemade fudge and popcorn balls. This coming from the woman who’s pumpkin skill hasn’t carved itself.

I think I’ve stalled long enough. Time to get my gloves on and remind myself why that career in medicine never worked out.

Happy Halloween!

So, Monday, we meet again

The jeans of the crime

I don’t know about all of you, but we started the week off on a spectacularly shitty note. I could tell from the moment I woke up that it was going to be rough. My hindsight brain is saying, “if you knew that going in, why didn’t you do something to change course? Duh."

Hindsight brain is such a turd. He’s always like, “I would have handle that so much better.” It’s in the same category of people who offer helpful advice for how to best handle challenging situations next time, as if you hadn’t already learned that going to Ikea on a weekend with a three-year-old was a bad call. Has no one read Men Are From Mars? Women don’t want advice. They want empathy.

So, yes, hindsight brain, I realize I could have altered course. But I didn’t. And that’s what brings us to where we are now.

Here’s my mandatory list of excuses: We were running late. When we’re under the gun, younger people seem to somehow move slower than usual, like time is speeding up and they’re stuck in molasses. Then my stress about getting younger people moving seeps out into the world and makes everyone cranky. There was even a clothing crisis… from a child who wears a uniform.

I believe that’s what therapists call miscuing. People think kids are straightforward and easy to read. Hell no. It’s never about what you think it’s about. Maybe it started off being about uncomfortable jeans, but it morphed into something much harder to manage: reality. Specifically, the realization that another week of school was about to begin. More specifically, the realization that she was going to miss me.

By the time I figured this out, the morning had already gone to hell. I saw our metaphorical train leaving the station and I did nothing to stop it. I could have waved frantically at the conductor or pulled the emergency brake or even let the train leave so we could wait for its non-crazy cousin to pull in. But, no, I let it keep chugging away.

“This is the worst morning ever of my whole life,” she screamed as I tightened her brother’s car seat, crushing his nuts in the process.

“Yes," I commiserated, "it probably is.” Meanwhile, my upstairs brain is knocking on the door of my downstairs brain, cautiously whispering, “This would be a good time to be stronger, wiser, kinder. You know…  be the adult.”

I close the car door, do a silent fist-shaking swear dance, take a deep breath and accept that we are going to be late. I go around to her side of the car. I help her with her seat belt. I look her in the eyes and tell her how much of a joy she is in my life. I tell her she is a good person. I pray that some of my words will stick to her Tephlon heart.

Things seem to settle down until I turn on the car, see the time and immediately turn back into cranky, late, asshole mom. Then I realize I’m being cranky, late, asshole mom and that this does nothing to help set them off on the right foot. I apologize for my behaviour, but not my feelings. I’m trying to show them it’s okay to make mistakes, that people will still love you if you lose your cool.

I’m sure there are practical lessons to be learned here. Set out clothes the night before. Get them up earlier. Get them to bed earlier. Be more organized. Move closer to the school. Perhaps the most valuable is this: Mondays are already tough. Skinny jeans will only make them worse.