I am one for saying that our children sense our anxieties – no matter how hard we might try to obfuscate them – but I do think sometimes they don’t realize the middling terrors that beat in our breasts. This year I’m stunned to discover my children really are “too old” to trick-or-treat for Halloween. That is, many teens continue in the tradition – either while babysitting smaller children or just as a lark – but they are no longer small ones – they are near grown. They are taller than I. They could get a rebuke by some bitter asshole, if they show up at a door. More precisely, their peer group is fading out of trick or treating so they are less likely to want to go. A figurative moment ago I felt I had years left of making them costumes and finding them a purple plastic pumpkin to haul their candies – but those times have closed, abruptly, another door slamming shut. A smirk in my face. Time marches on.
Is it any wonder I’d experience a pathetic gladness they still want to dress up, they still want costumes? I throw myself into the effort with more time and funds than is necessary. I plan, I screenshot and send them pics – “like this?” I research wigs and hair dye and uniforms and costume jewelry. I order colored contacts and select Express Shipping. I sew and sew and take out seams and re-sew. I find a feverish focal point and try to force everything to slow down.
So when we do have these slower moments – when we’re in the warm field at the pumpkin patch, when I watch my children gently catch small creatures in a leafy undergrowth – I try to experience and to hold on to the moment. My boots in the soft earth, the brilliance of the sky, the warmth on my bare head (shorn of all my hair a few weeks ago). My oldest puts his hands in mine; his fingers are long and slender and often, now that the weather has turned, cold. Both children put their arms around me several times a day and as incredibly as it sounds, I often shrug them off because: Work! It doesn’t make sense, but there it is.