For nearly twelve months I’ve been hearing this statement, “for Halloween I’m going out as (insert costume choice of the week here)” and I’ve been hearing that times four. It changes more frequently then they brush their hair it seems sometimes. Thankfully their mother doesn’t jump up and buy every thing they think they want to be because we’d have quite a collection by now. Of course some of those early choices based on movies that were popular that week didn’t last long. When it comes right down to it they will go out for Halloween in the best most affordable costumes their mother comes home with and that will be that. Sure we sometimes have to sell it a bit but in the end is it the costume that matters or the fact that you get to dress up and every door they knock on that night will give them candy. One year not so long ago Samantha was so unhappy with the outfit that was selected for her that she refused to wear it. So she went out as a little girl who was just so stubbornly fierce and scary that looking at her would make you scream, (no costume required for that). After a few houses I didn’t even have to explain her outfit any longer, she was getting candy by looking cute regardless. No one really wants to ask if they can’t identify it right off like a princess or a witch.
This year Kate went a bit spooky as a zombie but Emma was a Bobby sox girl from the fifties and Sam and Dan went out as a kitty and a unicorn respectively. I told the older girls to choose one of their younger sisters to stick with and they’d be sure to feel the cute factor in their candy bags. The smaller they are the more candy they seem to get and I guess I’m no different when kids come to our door. I always give the little kids the most (like they need it) but it’s better than rewarding teenagers for trying to score free candy at their age. I guess it’s better then doing drugs, maybe I better rethink my strategy for the older kids. Since we always kid that Dani is basically fueled by candy this was her night. True to form she was the last one to throw in the towel. Her older sisters were done first with Emma no longer even going up to the doors we passed, but Dani was not about to pass any closed-door that might give her more candy. Occasionally as we marched around the neighborhood we’d find some candy on the ground and Dani would try to pick it up. She didn’t tell me it was hers and it wasn’t till we were probably ¾ of the way through the night that I realized she had a fist size hole in the bottom of her candy bag. She’s been bleeding candy since the first house. I did what I could to set her up with plastic bags to line her candy bag but she still lost the odd piece as we headed towards home. Since Halloween fell on a Saturday night we stayed out a bit longer then if it were a school night. It had been raining for three days straight so going into the evening I was concerned it would be a very short night but almost like it was planning all along, as the sun went down the rain stopped. I looked up and saw nothing but stars as I waited for the girls at each house. This was the second straight year of solid weather for trick or treating. It seems only fair since we had about three years of downpours before that.
The piles of candy on the floor when we got home were staggering, I just kept trying to put a dollar value to it. What’s more surprising is that even with Dani’s leaky bag she still accumulated more candy then any of her sisters. Like I said the cute factor pays off. Again for the third year running JoAnn had an open invitation to trade candy for cash. After you’ve enjoyed a few select pieces and pulled aside about a dozen for later enjoyment she would give them $20 to spend at Toys R Us. This year all but Emma took the deal. She decided to be the master of her own candy bag. I think what she doesn’t realize is that her mother would not be destroying the candy or giving it away. This candy would be coming back to the girls in the form of treats for months to come. So really three of the girls got the addition of $20 and to have their candy in moderation. Emma got no cash but did hold onto the right to be able to self govern her own candy intake. I’m not sure who won here in the end. As a kid I’m not sure I would have made that deal with my mom. I find it easy to side with Emma’s choice but knowing that you’re getting it all back in the end it does make the cash seem pretty attractive. Sometimes the bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush and I respect that she stuck to her guns no matter how hard her mother pushed her to accept the deal.
As if Halloween on a Saturday night wasn’t enough sugar for the girls, the very next day Dani was having her fifth birthday party and for the first time ever, on her actual birthday. In recent years we’ve staged parties at indoor play zones, movie theaters and even an indoor rock-climbing place. Last year Dani wanted her birthday at the rock wall so bad after Samantha had her party there. She was nearly the only little girl who made it to the top of the rope and rang the bell every turn she had, twenty-five feet in the air. However they don’t generally do parties for kids under the age of six and last year all her friends would have been four. The people who ran the place were a bit shocked to find out she was so young because she showed no fear at all. Last year she had her party at the gymnasium where she took gymnastics classes for fun even though her instructor was an Olympic golf medalist.
This year she wanted to have her party at home. I think she just wanted to have her school friends to the house. She gets so annoyed all her sisters have play dates or “Hang outs” as her older sisters refer to them these days and I think she just wanted to have her friends here in her house. The only prerequisite she demanded was a piñata, (as she did last year also) so as long as she could have one of those then a party at home would be fine. The theme was to be “Frozen” and she wanted a Elsa Frozen cake but other than that everything else was open. We hadn’t had a party at the house like this for quite a few years. Maybe it was Samantha’s fifth I’m not sure but we used to have them at the house all the time till we had so many parties to deal with a year. There is a certain satisfaction being able to show up at a location, let the kids party their little brains out, eat pizza, cake and some one else does the clean up. Even better with set start and finish times there is no loitering. You have to be there to pick up your kid on time.
When I was a kid we only ever had a party at home. Places like Chuck-E-Cheese or indoor play zones just didn’t exist. Mom got a movie projector from the library since this was before the advent of the video store. (Yes I am just that old). We’d watch a couple of Laurel and Hardy shorts, play a few games, eat some cake, open a couple presents and that was your party, see you next year. It was always co-ed too. My mom always had me invite 2 boys and three girls, like it was a set up and we were all going to pair off. When I went to other kids parties it was the same thing except sometimes they’d have the entire class show up. When I was a little older than we went to a pizza joint and I just got to bring the two boys. It was never a really big deal. JoAnn has proclaimed this to be the last big party for any of the girls. Big in terms of the amount of friends invited. Kate and Emma have been enjoying smaller gatherings for a few years and even Sam had a lunch and movie party so it was a smaller affair. I’m not sure I’m really ready to give up on the crazy big birthday party yet because they can be fun, certainly memorable. There are moments from parties past that really stand out in my mind, like Kate’s first birthday because it was the first for us as parents. Dani’s fifth party however may have given us the sound bite we’ll never forget.
As you do with house parties we had games lined up and JoAnn had a table of prizes all laid out. Win lose or draw everyone was going home with a prize. We started the day with a couple of rounds of musical chairs, before we moved onto hot potato and pin the nose on the Olaf (formerly pin the tail the donkey when I was a kid). We didn’t have Disney commercialization to help set new trends and I think my mom used the same Pin the tail on the Donkey game for all my brothers so it was about twenty when it was finally retired. There was one little girl who cried when she was eliminated from the very first game of musical chairs. She refused to play the second round. She was angry when she was left holding the hot potato and was cut from that game. Even after being spun she managed to get Olaf’s nose to the EXACT spot because she was pulling the blindfold down with her free hand and cheating. She was that determined to win a game because whoever won got first pick at the prize table. She was not happy when her nose pinning attempt was not deemed the winner because she had cheated.
After some cake we set up the piñata and gave everyone a bag to collect the candy when it finally broke open. We’ve seen WAY too many episodes of AFV where some parent gets nailed with a bat in the balls to play that game so JoAnn always gets the kind of piñata you have to pull one of a few dozen hanging strings. Last year the first kid actually pulled the right one and the game was over quick. This year it was the third string that did the trick. What I found funny was that all the girls were lined up waiting to take their turn and when it opened up and the candy hit the ground they were all still standing waiting in line. I had to tell them to “Get the candy!” before any of them realized they needed to pounce. We all have such polite kids it seems. The last game of the party was pass the present. This was a double whammy because if you took off the last layer of wrapping to reveal the present you got to keep it plus pick from the prize table of dollar store crap. When our little cheating princess did not get to remove the last layer of paper to win the round she spun around on the floor where they were all sitting and loudly proclaimed “THIS IS THE WORST BIRTHDAY PARTY EVER”! The other girls didn’t seem to notice since I’m guessing they are all used to this sort of drama from her at school. I think I even saw a five-year old roll her eyes at her classmate. All the other parents that were within earshot could not contain their laughter. This wasn’t just this little girls statement, she really believed it. I know Dani was at this girls birthday party only the week before so I’m guessing any party that did not have her as the centre of attention was going to pale in comparison. I don’t believe in rewarding bad behaviour but I had asked this precious little drama princess earlier in the day what it was she had her eye on from the prize table. At the end of the party when anyone who had not won a game lined up to claim their prize I made sure she got exactly what it was she wanted. No one goes away from one of my daughter’s birthday parties upset. Maybe it wasn’t the worst birthday party ever after all.