We made it to the first half term and also to my favourite event of the year; Halloween. Of course Christmas is great, and Easter is fun at times, but there’s something about Halloween that I just can’t get enough of. Its spooky, there’s a huge fantasy element, its not as saccharine as Christmas, its got a dark edge – and it involves lots of treats. What’s not to like? My kids love it just as much as I do, maybe more, and have been asking if its Halloween yet every morning since September. Trick or treating can be a bit hit or miss in the UK unfortunately but it seems to be picking up around our street. Last year Covid scuppered all trick or treating fun but I’m expecting a few visitors this year. The only downside to Halloween as far as I can tell is limiting the amount of sugar the kids have, because if unchecked they will consume their own body weight in Tangfastics before November is upon us. And one time our porch smoke machine and skeleton animatronic combo did make a trick or treater burst into tears. It was character building, I’m sure. I also find pumpkin carving quite tough; I can’t give the boys tools that are too sharp and they often start and then wander off leaving me to finish their pumpkins. Halloween baking seems to be popular and I might attempt that at some point, but I find baking with the kids very stressful and incredibly messy. Over the years Frank’s love of Halloween has started to border an obsession; when we brought down the Halloween decorations from the loft I saw him cuddle a Pennywise clown and whisper “I missed you, brother”. Creepy, right? And his drawings of late have been quite sinister. I’m not concerned though; Halloween is a safe way for him to enjoy creepy things and dress up and be dramatic, which he’s always loved. Frank has earned the nickname Prince of Darkness and this year is dressing as a clown, of course.
This week I had some rare one on one time with Frank as Bill was still in nursery despite it being half term. We went to our local arts centre with my mum to watch a play about dragons and mythical beasts, and we went for brunch (he had pancakes). The other nursery day we went to a local theme park, a small one, but with a few rides and a Halloween show. I prepared by taking anti-sickness medication which did not work (at all!) and after one go on the “Ghostly Galleon” I was feeling seasick. Frank stayed on by himself, and after that insisted going on every ride solo, even after I felt I had recovered enough to join him. Watching him go on the rides over and over was strange; I was struck by how much easier it is just having Frank with me, and I must admit I was a little bored. At one point in the soft play I actually got my book out and read for a while, something that would have been unfathomable even a year ago. I had a sense that there’s a shift on the horizon; the boys are getting more independent and – dare I say it – parenting is getting easier. I don’t have to crawl around the soft play tunnels anymore. They can both communicate what they want (and often its an ice cream before midday or more time on the Nintendo switch). Neither of them nap anymore so working my day around day sleeps is a distant memory. Of course they still need a lot of care and they have problems and tantrums, and reading and homework is a whole new challenge. But I feel like I’m on the cusp of a new phase where I’m less needed; at least, in an immediate sense where they need me to hold their hand on fairground rides or go down slides with them on my lap. I don’t carry around a potty everywhere anymore, and my backpack is tiny; it contains wipes and a few snacks but not much else; no nappies or spare clothes or dribble bibs. Its been a gradual transition but during yesterday’s day trip I really noticed how much things have changed. To any parent struggling with potty training, exhausted from night feeds, or feeling like they’ve lost their dignity by crawling around tunnels in a sticky soft play – one day you won’t be doing all this, and that day will come quicker than you’d think.