The day before Halloween, I learned that instead of having Grandma join us for some trick-or-treating, I was going to have to take all four boys out...by myself. I put on a brave face, and said that it wouldn't be a problem. But anyone with four young children knows very well that it was going to be a huge problem.
Another fright I faced happened just before dinner on Halloween night, and one hour before we left for trick-or-treating. My 3-year-old's most favorite costume, the one he's been wearing all week, was NOWHERE. Absolutely, positively, nowhere. We looked all over the house, beneath beds, behind couches, and inside toy boxes. I suddenly realized with great horror what had happened to it. Just the night before, I had been thinning out our totes of baby clothes, keeping only what I really wanted for a possible future baby. The main light in our bedroom had stopped working (no, it didn't need a replacement bulb), so I was working by the dim light of a lamp. My kids, of course, as hyperactive as they were, were jumping on the bed, messing up my piles of clothes, until I finally ordered them out. Annoyed, I quickly stuffed all of the clothes into a garbage bag, then e-mailed a lady who was in need of baby clothes. We arranged a pick-up time for the following morning, Halloween morning, at 11 a.m. The only place Jarod's costume could possibly be was inside one of those two garbage bags, which were currently down in Brigham City. Had the light in my room been brighter, or had there been less chaos, I can't help but think that I would have been more careful, double-checking what went inside each bag instead of quickly stuffing a pile of unknowns into bags. So, yes, my young child had no Halloween costume.
Okay, I might be acting a little dramatic. Technically, we had a whole tote of costumes downstairs, but that's beside the point. I gave my child's beloved costume away. Go me. Luckily, we had a really cute caterpillar costume in the tote, and Jarod quickly forgot about his dog costume. He looked a bit silly with a painted on nose and freckles in his big, fluffy bug costume, but with a runny nose that he kept wiping across his cheek, the makeup quickly wiped off. Disaster averted...until we went out for the night.
I always am unsure of when to take the kids out. What time is appropriate? I didn't want to go knocking on doors when no one was even ready, but one place that was a sure bet was a townhouse complex we've been to for the past two years, where hundreds of kids trick-or-treat. I took the kids, only to learn that my greatest fear had been realized. Not even half of the houses there had their porch lights on, which meant we wouldn't be knocking on their doors. Thirty minutes later, after we'd knocked on the last door, my kids only had probably 15 pieces of candy.
I remembered that a ward was having trunk-or-treating at our church, so I headed over there. We parked on the opposite side of the parking lot when I saw that only a few cars were there, and decided it hadn't started quite yet. I took the boys down the street to hit a neighborhood or two before heading back into the parking lot. As we approached the corner, I tried herding the boys onto the lawn of the nearest house, which was a bit of a problem since Caleb (my one-year-old) was more interested in picking up leaves then collecting candy. When I finally convinced him to walk towards the house, I realized that my wonderfully independent Jarod had somehow appeared across the street on the corner, waiting for us! Another Mom-of-the-Year award should have been given to me. I called him back, and luckily, he obeyed.
We trekked around the busy neighborhood, collecting juice bottles, miniature popcorn bags, and tons and tons of candy. My children were eager to say thank-you and "Happy Halloween" to everyone who filled their bags, and little Caleb got a few extra sometimes just because he was so gosh-darn cute. However, what lurked down the street, glowing with red and yellow lights, was a haunted house. Gargoyles, ghouls, and the Grim Reaper greeted the hordes of children both young and old, who swarmed the house like a beehive. At the driveway, we were greeted by a gypsy, who not only handed out candy, but a blue ticket as well. "Take this to one of the booths to play a game," she said. "Then you can go in and get your prize!" We followed her finger to the carport, which had been transformed into what looked like a spook ally. Reluctantly, I gathered the kids around a booth for games. Honestly, I just wanted to continue on. I was anxious that the kids were going to start getting tired and grumpy, but I wanted my kids to have a really cool experience. They spun a wheel or chose a floating duck, then got a prize ticket. I led the boys into the prize room, where I pushed aside a wall of beads. We found ourselves in a dark room, beneath the gaze of hanging monsters, and walked over to the prize table. That was when I realized that Jarod was not with us. Oh, no, not again!! I raced through the curtain of beads, and luckily found my son standing nearby, looking around for us. I brought him in the room with us, and he and Jacob chose miniature bottles of bubbles, while Gabriel and Caleb received silly glasses. I couldn't believe how these people had gone all out! The boys all enjoyed themselves, and I was grateful we'd stopped there.
We hit several homes, and things were finally going smoothly...until we came to a house on a corner. The front porch light was off, so we dismissed the house, only to see that around the corner, they had a back porch light on, with a back porch that was decorated. I noticed that the gate to the backyard was open, and also saw that there was another open gate on the opposite end of the yard. To me, it was an open invitation for trick-or-treaters. Self-consciously, I took the kids through the yard, and my oldest knocked. Nothing. We headed out of the yard quickly (before anyone caught us), and then my 1-year old Caleb decided that he didn't want me carrying him anymore. As I put him down, his trick-or-treat bucket spilled into my arms, and my kids all ran off, leaving me in the yard alone to clean up. I cradled his bucket while trying to awkwardly tip the candy from my arms into it. I suddenly heard a noise, and when I turned around to see what it was, I was terrified to see an adult-sized gorilla approaching me, arms outstretched.
Now, normally, I'm a pretty big scardy-cat. Had I been all alone, I'm pretty certain I would have screamed and taken off running. But, as a mother with an obligation to her young children (and feeling totally embarrassed for both being in a forbidden yard as well as picking up spilled candy), I simply said, "Oh, hi!" It clearly made gorilla-man bored, and I was safe. But then again, how would Jarod feel when he saw this massive gorilla on the dark streets? We couldn't even get him to go into a costume store without him freaking out. What was I supposed to do when he saw it? Well, the beauty of trick-or-treating for young kids is that they're either too busy looking down into their candy bags or searching for the next door to go to to even notice what was lurking above their heads. We all escaped the gorilla without any problems.
Finally, we reached the final house on our route. The way the door was situated was pretty strange. In order to get to it, you had to follow a narrow sidewalk up against the house, with a railing between the sidewalk and the yard. Because it was such a narrow path, I had to wait on the other side of the railing on the grass, holding Caleb, while my other three boys got their candy. The plan was wait until they were done, and then lift Caleb up over the railing so he could get his candy. Everything went according to plan, until, when the door was shut, Jacob suddenly yelled, pointing across the street, "Oh, no! Jarod's way over there!"
I looked across the dark yard, the dark, wide street, and onto the dark grass of the churchyard, where a fuzzy green caterpillar was standing, clutching his Halloween bucket. OHMYGOSH, how did he get across the street?! My first instinct was to take off running and carry him back to safety. But then that would leave my three other children. What if my one-year-old took off after me? I yelled across the street to tell Jarod to stay where he was, praying he'd listen and not try to cross again without me. I gathered my other children, and we quickly crossed the yard and into the street. How that little boy made it across the street under the dark, cloudy sky all by himself without getting killed by a car is beyond me. But, there he was, safe and sound, and completely unaware of the fear he had just given me.
We finally headed over to the church parking lot to pick up a few more pieces of candy (the boys had been dying to go trunk-or-treating), but when we turned the corner, I saw that no one was outside. Maybe they took it into the gym, like they'd done last year in the rain. We went inside, only to learn that there was no trunk-or-treating, but a Halloween carnival, instead. Well, it was getting late anyway. I was honestly relieved that we would be heading home, because frankly, I was getting tired. My boys weren't too happy, but they quickly forgot their disappointment when they looked down into their bags, which were bulging with candy.
Despite a frightful Halloween night, we all made it home, safe and sound. Everyone was happy, and everyone got to enjoy some of the fruits of their labors. But, just as all scary movies have one last terrifying scene, so did ours. It was time to put the kids, all high on their sugar rush, down for bed (cue the scary music).