Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween, One Boy's Obsession

My son Jonah is four. If you ask him, he will tell you that he is four and three quarters. Both are true.

His obsession with Halloween began in early September. He could not get enough of it. He talked non-stop about costume ideas. He would gasp with delight at the sight of decorations in a store. He could sit still (not his strong suit by the way) for an hour looking at Halloween pictures on the internet. His favorite was to have me search Google images for "haunted cakes" thereby combining his current obsession (Halloween) with his previous one (fancy cakes).

So, this Halloween, I made him a costume. With my own hands and the sewing machine my Grandma Bunny gave me as a wedding present. He wanted to be a ghost. A sheet, some scissors, and a piece of elastic to hold it into place. Simple, right? Well, nothing is simple with Jonah. He has ideas. Vision. (Not visions.) He knew exactly what he wanted. He wanted to look like a real ghost. A lengthy metaphysical explanation that there are no such thing as "real" ghosts, proved unpersuasive to this four year old. But, finally, the night before his school festival, amid much wiggling, we transformed him into a satisfactory ghost.

Friday was "Trick or Trunk" at school. His Nana and I dressed up as witches, decorated the back of the station wagon, and handed out candy and bouncing rubber eye balls. That was followed by the class pizza party.

Saturday was a long day. A long day of thinking about Halloween. A long day of talking about Halloween. A long day of looking longingly at others' Halloween decorations. A long day of begging Mommy and Daddy for "just one more" piece of candy. And then. Finally. It came. Seven o'clock and the first ring of the door bell. Oh, he was so excited to hand out candy it was tough to get him in his costume.

Our first stop was a party thrown by our babysitter, Abby. She was hosting kids from the high school group at church, and she invited us to stop by. So, we did. Abby is quite the baker and the cupcakes were extraordinary! So, we stopped, the kids had a cupcake, we headed back home.

Once home, Jonah was too distracted by handing our candy to trick-or-treat himself. In fact, when we ran out of candy, he insisted that we start giving out the candy he got at "Trick-or-Trunk" the day before. What a generosity of spirit!!!!

It was just a frenzy of door bell ringing and trick-or-treaters. And then. At 8:30. It all stopped. My husband blew out the jack-o-lantern, closed the blinds, and turned out the porch light. Halloween was over.

In all of the obsessive discussion, anticipation, and planning for this day I had forgotten one thing. To prepare my son for its end. It came quickly and without warning. He was devastated.

At first his face contorted into that grotesque pre-meltdown mask so familiar to parents. Then the slow wail. The first sob. Then the tears. He was inconsolable. It made my heart hurt just to watch him. How could I not have predicted this? I pride myself on thinking things through to avoid heartache and inconvenience whenever possible. I failed.

He did calm down enough to get into bed, but I heard him whimpering in there for quite awhile.

By the next day, all the neighbors had dismantled their decorations. Some of them quite elaborate. It was as if Halloween had been two months ago. But not at our house. We lit the jack-o-lantern again last night. And probably will again tonight. And I think I'll let the spider webs and ghost-on-a-stick stay out front just a little longer. It is the least I can do for the kid. He won't be four and three quarters forever.

1 comment:

  1. Very sweet story. Poor Jonah. But he'll only remember the good stuff - how his parents left the decorations up for a few days, how his mom made him a costume according to his vision, and how he handed out the candy (even his own!).
    I'm going to read a few more of your posts now. Is northern California as beautiful as it is in the movies? My husband and I went as far as Southern Oregon on a trip down the coast.
    Wondering what your doctorate is in...