Roles and little characters

31 10 2013
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Sibs at the gazebo after the neighborhood kids’ parade: Bilbo Baggins and sidekick-Robin, somewhat muddied in presentation by wolf- and kitty-hats, but with no disguise on how well they adore each other.

Hallowe’en this year hasn’t born much resemblance to past Hallowe’ens–for starters, most of its costumed elements (and a great deal of candy-gathering) have happened in the daytime, because that’s the way kids’ events tend to be planned these days. We spent an afternoon trick-or-treating at the zoo, where Caleb played games for candy prizes and Evanny interrupted some toddler’s game of toss-the-ring-over-the-plastic-penguin by wanting to poke the penguin, inspiring the woman working the event to give her a lollipop of her own: her very first piece of candy, which her usually healthy-food obsessed mummy let her eat, wandering around with the paper stick hanging out of her mouth like any experienced member of the guild of childhood, despite her newness to its ranks. The night before, we’d been out to the “Enchanted Beaver Lake” jack-o-lantern walk in the otherwise-pitch-black woods with our other neighborhood friends, the kids also costumed and rewarded with candy (and cider, and doughnuts), and last weekend while I was at work, Matt took them both to the Strathmore Hallowe’en Kids’ Parade to march the local streets to some hand-played drums and wind up in the park for cider and a chili cook-off. “Raaar,” Ev says, not a literalist about the characteristics of kitties or superheroes. “Raaar.”

Tonight’s plan was for her dad and I to take the littlest one–the only kid we have on weekdays–around the neighborhood with some of our new friends-and-neighbors to collect a little sugared nonsense; in the daytime, she and I were supposed to go in to Daddy’s school to wave at all the costumed kids parading down the halls. She was going to be dressed herself, and he had a Batman costume of his own ready to go, but he’s been sick and ended up not going in at all, and then it rained all day, so we stayed home to hand out candy instead. Ev was fascinated by all of the people coming and going and spent much of the evening standing (with support, of course) in the porch window watching the shiny streets grow darker, the packs of colorfully garbed children, teenagers, and damp but smiling parents tromping the yellow leaves plastering the walks into paste. We hung paper jack-o-lanterns in the windows because between the events, the shortness of Caleb’s weekends, and my work schedule, we didn’t get a chance to carve the real one–it’s on the proto-plans list for day-after-tomorrow, which won’t make it any less slimy and orange, I suppose; not getting it done by the holiday only bothers me, and even the older kid doesn’t really care about the calendars. The littler one was only 4 weeks old the last time she smelled pumpkin guts; I’m guessing she doesn’t remember even that much, let alone what day it’s supposed to happen by.

Answering the door with a pajama’ed little person in my arms, waving at stranger-children, not even stealing much of the candy, is a far cry from the drunken dance-parties at Nell’s (although as Matt and I sit in the kitchen, now that the candy’s gone, the lights are off, and the baby’s in bed, watching last season’s stolen episodes of True Blood, the year we went as Bill Compton and his new fairy girlfriend doesn’t feel like it was that long ago). Caleb is probably still awake, chattering helplessly because he’s too full of sugar to shut up, but we won’t know the details; all we have is one poorly taken picture, in which his face is out of focus, of him in a puffed-up Superman outfit standing with a very fuzzy little Carson-dressed-as-Elmo (the baby’s in focus–I guess their mom couldn’t be arsed to take a second to try to get the kid whose Hallowe’en attire actually mattered to the guy she was sending the picture to).

On the one hand, I’m disappointed that we didn’t get out: we had mental photos already planned of Evanny in her Robin outfit in our friend’s double-stroller with little Jack in his Batman attire; it would have been even better to have Caleb too, to run irresponsibly rampant with Jack’s brothers Will and Charlie (who had their own superhero plans in mind to make it a matched set of five–I think they were going to be Batman2 and Iron Man), but in the mental pictures it wasn’t raining, nobody was crouching over strollers with umbrellas and rain running down our necks, and nobody was cranky with a mysterious rash and insufficient napping. On the other, we’ve gotten all the really important milestones met: cute costumes, photographs, a pumpkin on the porch, a few decorations hung, fall weather, after-dark spooky adventures, time spent with friends, vampires on TV, and chocolate on our lips tonight. And there will be other Hallowe’ens to go tromping about in the variable weather to watch the little people collect candy to raid–the real parental roles of the night of the thinnest veil are still a little while ahead, just like the single-people entertainments and the roles we used to don in those are a bit behind. It’s a between-time, the babyhood phase of parenting, a thin veil of its own that brings the past and future a little closer together in the viewing lens even while the slow ticking of the days’ little clocks makes the bridge between those eras seem long indeed.

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