Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Boo. Or, My Kids Are Growing Up Too Fast.

Just as the fog comes on little cat feet, so apparently, does autumn. It certainly snuck up on us with little warning in our little section of New England this year, if only because September and much of October have been, as Cole Porter once noted, too darn hot. Only now it’s not. Hot, that is.

In short, Fall has finally arrived with dark, rainy skies and a certain chill in the air that tells me it’s time to gear up for the next faux holiday: Halloween. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m as big a sucker for holidays both real and artificially manufactured as the next guy, but I find with each passing year that my enthusiasm for this sort of thing ebbs in direct proportion with the level of commitment shown by my boys.

Actually, my boys have, it seems, gone full cycle. As infants, Halloween obviously meant nothing to them; it was just a day like any other, which meant their goal was, rather like Liza Minelli, to simply cry, eat, and poo as much as possible. But anyway, as the boys grew into toddlers they did catch on pretty quickly. They found early on that Halloween is in some ways even better than Christmas in that it’s a day of unfettered indulgence, only without the whole good/bad guilt trip laid on them by the fat man in the red suit.

As an event though, the whole thing seemed to peak for them in elementary school. Each year the excitement began to build in tandem with the appearance of candy and inflatable ghoul/monster yard decorations in the stores in August… which inevitably led to plans for ever more elaborate and gory costumes. (I still occasionally find spots of what I can only assume is fake blood here and there under the kitchen counters, but I suppose that says more about my commitment to closure and cleanliness than anything else.)

Now though, both the lads are even older yet, and it seems that gory costumes and ghoulish decorations are losing out to the distractions of middle school. Sure, there’s still some talk of dressing up as a toilet here and plans for trick-or-treating there, but the real focus this year is on… the Halloween Dance. It is, I’m told, a real Dance. With Girls.

My first reaction to the news was as predictable as it was inane: “Really…” I asked no one in particular, “you mean like a party with a punch bowl and crepe paper streamers?” My question was met with the sort of silence that is usually accompanied by nearly audible eye-rolling, but, never being one to let the obvious go, I forged ahead and lobbed the next question directly at my Lovely Bride: “Or is it like a Halloween Dance with guys asking girls to go and then hanging out and… you know, hanging out?”

You of course already know the answer to that, so I’ll just finish up by noting that now I’m just a teensy bit sorry that I spent all those years being all snarky and dismissive of Halloween as an event. Jeez, next thing you know they’ll be too grown up to celebrate Arbor Day with me. Oh well.

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