(Some language as always will be a little salty and slightly NSFW. Just so you know.)
(Also, to kinda protect my kids, I've changed their names. The oldest I'll just randomly call Han and the youngest Luke.)
I arrived at school at my regular time. The same as usual. But there was my youngest kid, openly weeping like Sophie just made a choice and it wasn't him. I thought maybe another kindergartner stole something from him or was unnaturally mean to him. That maybe one of the teachers said something horrible - like maybe he was "too adorable" or "too smart".
One of Luke's friends told me that Luke he didn't think I was going to come to get him. Instantly, I jumped at the belief that another student tricked him into this belief and was ready to lash out at the dirty turd who dared to trick my son into tears. But no. It wasn't any of that. Luke believed I wasn't coming to get him. He believed it was much later than usual and I wouldn't pick him up. And so he started losing his shit - thankfully only metaphorically as with kids it can get literal and deeply unpleasant - and he told his tiny friends his worries which led to more worries and a full cascading of tears.
The truth was that I was right on time. He wasn't even close to the last kid picked up - in fact there were tons of kids still there waiting for their parents. A full litter really. But as it had been a busy Halloween day, Luke felt it was later than usual and got all discombobulated with general feelings of being orphaned. Otherwise, known as "the usual". Because as a kid, that's the worst case scenario. Even with an oafish dad like me, being left by your parents is as bad as it gets. It's the heart of most Disney films, Star Wars, and a million other stories as well. It's the easiest way in for a kid (or for any human with a heart at all) with a story and it's the go-to when a kid needs something to really freak out about.
So once I figured out it was this general soul-shattering feelings of abandonment, I crouched down and told him I'd never not come get him. That either his mom or me would always pick him up. We hugged, his tears abated and then he went to cheerfully tell me he'd gotten candy in class.
For all this, I blame Halloween. For months, my kids had been looking forward to it. The older ordered parts and bits to make a Tron outfit weeks before. The other fought off every question as to what he was going to be, but still kept counting down the days until Halloween. Eventually, he made his own cool penguin costume with his mom, an act he was proud of. But come the day of the Halloween parade at his school, he had to be coaxed into wearing it. He feared people making fun of it. And then next day at his soccer game, he was reduced to tears again when another kid on his team asked what he was going to be for Halloween. When he told this kid "a penguin", this 5-year-old bucket of evil sneered at Luke: "That's not scary!"
And again, the tears. It's not the way you want to end a soccer game, but here he was wracked with the raging eye waters. His older brother tried to comfort him, but that verbal arrow from a turdy teammate struck too close to the bone. Myself and Luke talked about what happened, about how he shouldn't care what that kid said. I asked Luke if he even wanted his costume to be scary, to which he admitted he hadn't. So his teammate saying it wasn't scary dismissively was like saying an apple didn't taste like a hamburger. His costume was just a cute, cool penguin. Not some bloody, Hannibal Lecter cannibal penguin who fed off the hides of other penguins, especially those ones from Madagascar, Pingu, and Opus. It wasn't Revenge of the March of the Penguins - although that would be awesome. (Hit me up, SyFy Channel if you want a pitch on that.)
So that night, Halloween night, Luke gave up on being a penguin. He wore an old sci-fi soldier-y costume of his brother's. Peer pressure and his own doubts crept in and knocked the one he made out of consideration. And he was totally happy in his random future soldier outfit that was some sort of weird knockoff that we'd never heard before. But it felt like a slight loss, him not wearing his own home-made costume. Even if he was clearly happier and less angsty by putting on this other costume.
Then we went trick-or-treating with other families we'd gone with for years. And I eyed each trick-or-treater in too scary costumes or terrible teens out for terror with the idea that I'll jump into action if they do anything to my kids. Most likely, I'd use some extraordinarily vulgar words put together in ways that will make them weep for years. Because there are people who love Halloween. And people who don't. I'm am in the don't.
Because it's filled with people trying to scare people. And in the 80s when scaring was at it's peak with Wes Craven, John Carpenter, and others, I ran away from those films. Hell, I only saw Poltergeist. Which scared me enough. But now in the real world with real kids, I'm taking them to strangers houses, asking to trust these strangers to give my children candy poison while surrounded by hoards of people going around in the dark with their faces hidden so they could totally stab you and run off and get away with it.
So thanks for scaring me more than I already am, Great Pumpkin and your Halloween. I hope one day Linus catches up with you. And wreaks a revenge that's never-before-seen with a blue blanket of carnage. And then we'll never have to do Halloween again.
Except my kids already started talking about what they could be next year.
Crap. This Halloween stuff never ends.
Over the past week, TCM has been showing a lot of scary films. The most scary, for me always, has been the short films of David Lynch. I love David Lynch. I've seen a fair amount of scary films even though I missed so many in the 80s, but the only thing that consistently freaks me out is David Lynch. Twin Peaks did a number on me that no other show or movie ever could. So showing these early short films (and other works) that he did while at AFI like The Grandmother and The Alphabet and I'm still weirded out. Check it out if you never have and it will infect your soul.
Also, they've been showing a lot of old Hammer films. The movie Dracula A.D. 1972 showed that The Godfather had nothing to worry about that year for best film.
Also, watched Race to Witch Mountain, which as a child was a big deal. Watching it with my kids, it's not a bad film and holds up pretty well. What I loved most was that the film had a very pro-bald casting agenda. Baldies were everywhere in it.
A couple last random thoughts...
While out taking the kids trick-or-treating with other families, I joked that my wearing my regular clothes was actually a costume of Dad-Who's-Given-Up. And then one of the women laughed really hard. Like, too hard. Like too much truth.
Also, do parents let their kids eat all the candy they get? Each year, we've let our kids pick out a small amount and then we bring it to the school to send off to the troops. Not to be kind or awesome or any of that, but because we don't want any sugar-crazed chubbos bouncing off our walls. (...And because if some troops get our candy and like it, that is kinda nice.)
So that's it. Thanks for reading and I hope each of you have a brilliantly awesome week of adventures and laughter. (Also, go listen to Styx's "Come Sail Away". You'll feel better after you do.)
the T stands for pumpkin