Halloween kind of snuck up on me this year. It was terrifying.
I know. You're probably wondering … 'Where are earth do you live? Australia? Here in the great U.S. of A. the ghost of Halloween future has been hovering overhead since late August when the procrastinators among us started shopping for Back to School.
I'm not sure how it happened. My kids usually plan their costumes months in advance, making me lose my mind and days of sleep in the process. They visit me in the wee hours of the morning with their tablets and sketchbooks, waking me from pleasant dreams, to show me in gory detail how they would like me to sew a wearable submarine resembling a humpback whale playing croquet, or an acrobat delivering pizzas from a tightrope.
Then, as kids will do, they submit their change orders three days before All Hallow's Eve and expect I can accommodate the transformations. “Of course, the idea of delivering pizzas from a high-wire isn't going to work. Perhaps I can manage to knit you a magic rabbit costume using stardust and real unicorn fur. I have two days.”
Of course, I'm kidding.
The magic of my costumes is all in my mind.
My kids are old enough to realize this, too. They know my expertise in costuming revolves entirely around what I manage to scrounge out of the recycling bin or find at Goodwill, and even then they will have to explain what they are to the strangers they approach for candy.
I suppose if I'd thought about it, I would have realized that that Halloween has slowly been losing its mayhem.
Maybe I should have known from the moment we realized the unpleasant reality that carving jack-o-lanterns made our skin itch, or when most of the intricate costumes we had labored over make trick-or-treating a seem like just another dead-end job.
And don't get me started on the candy. So many aversions, so few treats they will actually eat.
Yet still, there's something about being out after dark. Pretending to be something your not. With your mother in tow.
It seems strange that I hadn't noticed. Having lumbered behind my troupe of doorbell ringers wearing the same old gorilla costume, all gussied up with this year's less than brilliant accessory:
Mermaid gorilla ...
Zombie gorilla ...
Housewife gorilla ...
One would think I'd have seen ...
I must not have been able with my mask's limited vision.
So it was with some amount of shock that I realized one day last week that October was almost over and neither of my children had mentioned Trick-or-Treating.
Did they forget, too? Have they outgrown this frightful holiday? Or worse … do they not want my help?
Have they finally noticed that any grandiose plans they may have will look pretty anemic once I unleash my considerably lacking creative skills in the construction phase? Is it possible they don't even want me to help, since they've learned I might be able to spray-paint their designs black, but they should probably move their bikes and everything else they own and hold dear in the general vicinity should they NOT want all of their belongings unevenly coated in Rust-Oleum?
Magic Eight Ball says: All signs point to yes.
It was a Haunted Hayride commercial that reminded me about my forgetfulness as I was burning toast for breakfast.
“Oh no! Halloween!” I shrieked. “We are almost out of time!”
The kids poured their own cereal and laughed. “We already have our costumes for the most part. I'm going as a gumball machine and he's going as death.”
Turns out they managed without me.
This year instead of waking me up in the middle of the night to alert me to the horror of not having a clue what they would wear for costumes. They found their own:
The girl glued every pompom in the house to an old sweater and paired it with a red A-line skirt. The boy repurposed his ninja costume and found an old hockey stick he thought looked like a scythe.
“A little face paint,” he said, and Halloween would be “good to go.”
“Hey … you know who's great with face paint,” I'll offer.
“Yeah, I know. My sister is Great with face paint.”
See what I mean? It's scary when Halloween sneaks up on you.