November 1, 2012

Bikes and Ghouls

pumpkinI love Halloween.  And I was reminded when I popped onto facebook this morning and everyone was all like, “Look at my crazy pirate kid” or “whassup ghost man”.  And I’m all like, “no pictures of our night”.  I think I needed a Xanax, and I think my husband is sure I’m all crazy bat shit.  (Oh, spell check said that was two words.  I like ‘batshit’ much better.)  And it’s in the wrong order, just like my night. 


We might have spent 30 seconds actually walking as a family around our neighborhood.  Mostly, two houses into trick-or-treating, my kids are gone.  And it’s dark.  And they are on bikes.  I thought the bikes were cute until I realized they could walk a lot faster than me.  I mean, bike.  They could bike a lot faster than I could walk.  And by faster, I mean they can finish trick-or-treating before I get down the first street.  The neighborhood is packed with kids (although less than years past), and all the kids have costumes, and the adults have beverages.  It’s a precious suburban scene from an old fifties movie. 

We all wave and chat, but my damn kids are gone.  I panic.  I probably shouldn’t.  I don’t know if I’m crazy, but I feel like I need to see my kids.  I had given them rules, but I can see that I can’t see if they are following them. Is it just me?  And then I see one son behind me and one ahead.  And I had given the stricter instructions to the wrong child.  I am beginning to hate Halloween.  I have images of stolen children dripping from my something cortex as a policeman drives by.  Why is he here?  These ‘keepers of safety’ do not frequent our hood?   Again I can’t see my damn kids.  Notice they are damn kids right now.  They still are this morning.  The bigger problem is I read this awful book about some kids getting stolen and taken to the woods where they are beaten and truly, I can’t even say it.  It was a book club book, and I am still traumatized.  Note to self:  Don’t read fucked up books about children when you have them.


My husband is convinced the kids are fine riding about by themselves.  I am not sure he is right.  After being split up and found ten times (and I am wondering now why I didn’t just drag their butts home), my youngest rides off into the sunset five seconds after I remind him he will look for me, not I for him…  because he is faster, and it is his responsibility to make sure he is near.  I am also a keeper of safety,  only I dressed in a black curly wig and boas.  No, I didn’t have a theme, but I dressed up.    


I watched my small child round a corner in the dark a block away, and I proceeded to show my mom badge to my oldest and confiscate his bike so I could chase my youngest.  I have decided I will absolutely worry if I can’t see him, even though my husband knows he is safe.  I just can’t settle into that.  Why is he able to do that?  Maybe I should practice.  Maybe I should strap one on and see if I can worry less about my kids’ safety.  It wouldn’t work.  My wiring is wrong.  I look at my friends as I wiz by, and I am jealous that they are within earshot and eyesight of their small babes.  Let’s be honest—not everyone knows where their kids are.  A few might have gotten switched around, but I am helpless inside, and I am trying to decide if it’s the book club book or if I am just paranoid.  Huffing and puffing, I notice my son’s candy bag, hanging off the side of the bike I am riding, has opened up and all the candy has fallen on the street, just noticed.  I decide my 5 year old will be giving my 8 year old his candy.  Problem solved—IF I find him ever again, right? 


And as I pull around the third corner, I see his small bike in front of our house.  And he is at the neighbor’s house, playing with their terrifying display of creatures that help you lose sleep.  It’s a museum size display, complete with phones that call you up, bloody people crawling, and other scary folk lifting up their grave stones.  Maybe I’ll let him get lost there…  you know, while I watch, not letting him get lost. 


I yelled him home instead (that means I yelled till he came home), and I stripped him of his candy and sent him to his room.  I searched for my heart under all my mismatching boas.  It was there and pounding so quickly I could barely breathe.  I still feel helpless thinking about it.  And I still don’t know if I am crazy to worry.  But I know one thing.  I have to get this worked out before this young man drives, or I am going to be a wreck.  I really won’t have time to follow him around everywhere from 16-18 years old.  But you know, if you’re crazy like me, that if need be, you’ll be able to find the time.  One more thing, bikes are not appropriate modes of trick-or-treating transportation for children without fear.


The gist of is this will be the norm many times, trying to keep our kids safe as they try to find their own wings, their own pace, their own rhythm.  We will be too strict sometimes and not strict enough other times.  And we will question ourselves the whole way, too.  It’s going to be awesome.  It’s going to be fraught with much more worry.  But at the end of the day, we did have a Halloweeen…  That’s positive, right?!  Next time, we know how to do things differently.  I will be home drinking while dad sits out front and worrylessly hands out candy to the crazy people of the world.  My kids will be told to leave and not come home until very, very late.  This will ensure they will be worried and come home early and safely.  Yep, it’s all gonna be fine.  It’s all gonna be fine.