Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Another Holiday Horror Story

This Halloween was quite a fiasco. It was really all my fault. I build up my hopes for events without really thinking them through and planning for all contingencies. This combination of high expectations with low planning can really only have one result: bitter disappointment, weeping/wailing/gnashing of teeth, and an overwhelming sense of failure. Halloween 2008 did not provide an exception to this formula.

So this it what I had imagined would happen:

Soren would be dressed in the adorable lion costume I purchased for him earlier this summer at a garage sale. We would go as a family to the ward "Trunk or Treat" activity, where Abe and I would fraternize pleasantly with the adults in our neighborhood while Soren frolicked adorably with the other be-costumed children. Afterward, he would skip delightedly from car to car, leaving a stream of delighted exclamations in his wake ("How adorable! " "What a dear little boy!" "Such a cute little lion!") while he collected a large round of Halloween candy which would later be generously shared with his favorite Daddy and Mommy and unborn little brother.

What happened instead was this:

Mommy and Daddy returned from work and picked Soren up from Auntie Collette's house, where he had spent the day wearing a series of princess dresses chosen by his cousins. He was loathe to exchange a fluffy violet dance outfit for the jeans and t-shirt I had selected for him that morning, so we brought him home dressed like a little girl, wondering if we should, in fact, simply allow him to go to the Halloween party as a princess. I decided against this course, as I thought it might confuse people about our child's actual gender, and also because I had spent $1.50 on an actual costume that I wanted him to wear this year.

Upon our arrival at home, Soren immediately started whining. Abraham had claimed a headache and threatened to stay home from all Halloween activities, so I sent him downstairs to take a power nap in preparation for the evening's festivities, which I did not want to participate in without my sweetie. I then turned my energies toward the little boy, wrestled him out of his leotard, and found some warm clothes to put underneath his costume so he wouldn't freeze to death while begging for candy in the church parking lot. I tried to add the body-portion of his costume, but his protests, twists, and screams reminded me that he hadn't had dinner yet and might be somewhat more pliant with food in his belly.

So I plunked him in his high chair, checked the clock (we had forty-five minutes), and smeared some peanut butter and jelly in a tortilla while he impatiently rocked back and forth, whined, pointed, and grunted. The high chair seems to bring out his autistic side. And then I remembered that I needed to decorate our trunk in some sort of cute Halloween fashion in order to keep up with the Brother and Sister Joneses. So I elicited a "please" out of Soren, plunked his meal unceremoniously on his tray, poured him a glass of milk, and then ran off downstairs to gather supplies.

We don't have a single Halloween decoration in the house, so I thought fast and grabbed a patchwork quilt that looked kind of harvesty to me. I brought that back upstairs and checked to make sure that Soren was till breathing. Then I remembered that the light bulb in our trunk had worn out. So I ran back downstairs, dug through Abe's tool room, and came up with a portable light that we could use for our trunk. I brought that upstairs and did another quick choke-check. Next I realized that, if Soren were unwilling to wear the lion mask that came with the costume, I would have to figure out how to paint Soren's face to look lion-y. So I ran back downstairs to check the internet for ideas. Then I ran back upstairs.

Now, this wouldn't have been so bad if pregnancy didn't turn me into something akin to an elderly hippopotamus with asthma. But it does. So every time I made it back to the top of the stairs I had to sit down and put my head between my knees until my heart rate slowed to something reasonable--like maybe 120 bpm--and I could breathe without gasping. Through my final bout of post-stair-climbing vertigo, I had a vague awareness of Soren in the kitchen, flinging pieces of milk-soaked peanut-butter-and-jelly smeared tortilla at the wall, at the counter top, and at the kitchen table. He was done eating.

So while I was scrubbing Soren's little face with a washcloth and directing him in the fine art of wiping milk off the floor, it came to me that he still needed a tail for his costume. This was something I had considered vaguely throughout the past month but never taken steps to rectify, always telling myself, "Halloween is so far away. You'll have time to do it later." But now Halloween was upon us. I darted into my bedroom, found some brilliant orange yarn, and, after some digging, came up with the only crochet hook I could find: one of those gigantic ones a person might use for crafting a rag rug. It would have to do. Only, it didn't. After several vain attempts at crocheting a tail that might be passably cute, I gave up, flung the crochet hook across the room in the same way that Soren might fling a cup full of milk across a room, and decided that the %&$*#$ costume didn't need a (@!*$& tail anyway.

And now it was time to get Soren dressed. This time around, I was allowed to pull the body portion of Soren's costume on without too much struggling. The mask, as I had feared, was another story. Soren would not have anything to do with it. If I even so much as got the thing within 3 inches of his head, he would commence screaming. So I moved on to plan B: makeup. I was able to successfully draw one half of one whisker on Soren's face before he started grabbing at the eyeliner I was using, shaking his head back and forth, and crying when I wouldn't let him have the pencil. I had a lipstick that I was going to use to pinken his nose, but that was also grabbed at and cried about. So after about three minutes of my desperately swiping at Soren's face with various cosmetics while he desperately thrashed, rubbed, and grabbed at said cosmetics, he looked less like a lion and more like a burn victim in ICU. So I gave up on the idea of his looking like anything but a little boy in tan fuzzy pajamas, rubbed the make-up off as best I could, and hollered down the stairs at Abraham to wake up.

Exhausted, I plopped into a chair. Soren, who was really just a tired little boy who hadn't been home all day, grabbed a book and brought it over to me. "Story?" he asked hopefully. "Story?" So I picked up book, pulled my little tyke into my lap, and started to read. And I also started to cry. I had failed at Halloween. I hadn't decorated. I hadn't bought any candy. I hadn't signed up to bring food to the Trunk or Treat. I couldn't get my child to wear his costume.

Abraham found me and Soren sitting in the rocking chair in Soren's bedroom, crying together. He immediately declared that this was no time for going out. Instead he sat down on the rocking ottoman and rubbed my feet while I read stories to Soren. It was really what our family needed: a quiet evening at home together. Halloween or not, we were worn out from a long week and really just needed to wind down. I wanted so much for Halloween to be fun for us, but I suppose wrenching a tired child, be-headached husband, and pregnant self around like holiday fun automatons was not the way to go about it.

(We did end up having doughnuts and cider at my sister's house later that evening. Her children were all costumed delightfully. I'll post about that next.)

This is a picture of me at the end of a harrowing Halloween day. Abe calls this the "Rachel doesn't want to be touched" pose. I really should post a more flattering picture of myself sometime soon. I don't always look so haggard and hunch-backed. Really.
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Catherine said...

I am so sorry Rachel! I am glad that your evening wasn't a complete bust!

Jamie and Michael said...

Oh, Rachel! Your stories always make me laugh hysterically to myself while my family gives me strange looks. It's great. I too have the problem of expecting too much at holidays and planning too little. And I'm always disappointed. Someday I'll expect nothing and plan perfectly. That will be amazing. I think I'll expect that next time...

Shelly Elizondo said...

It's funny how our children get to decide the outcome of our festivities. We had drama the first 3 Halloweens we had kids but each year since I have expected less and gotten more. Good luck next year.

meagan said...

Oh Rachel, your blog has made me laugh so much! I know-believe me I KNOW-about the "getting up of the hopes and having the hopes crash down in fiery flames." I should tell you about the time my family went up to Sun Valley... yeah. It's pretty hysterical.

Natalya said...

Just having fun reading old posts while waiting sulkily for labor to start. This one was classic. I love the build-up, telling us what you were planning, and then this sentence: "What happened instead was this:". It's just an invitation to settle back and enjoy the rest of the story. Tell me you were not posing that last picture of you in your "Don't touch Rachel" pose. Was that real? Thanks, my friend. I'm off to find some more.


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