The Scariest Thing He Could Think Of

Last November 1, my now seventh grader decided that he wanted to be something scary for Halloween this year. So that day, he tried to think of all the things that scared him, and decided that the scariest thing he could think of was a failed math test.

So for Halloween 2016, he was a failed math test.

It is my favorite costume in our family’s history of Star Wars characters, Ninjas, clowns, ducks, lions and dragons. Cheap. Easy to make. Witty. And just putting his personality out there. So courageously nerdy that it’s cool.



Three Guys, Three Styles on Halloween

They are brothers, and so far, great friends. But they are nothing alike in their approach to life. It shows even in their trick-or-treating.

The youngest knew what he wanted to be weeks before Halloween and stuck to his guns (literally, as a soldier). He ran from house to house, hit as many as possible in warp speed, then was ready for home, thrilled to just sit at the kitchen counter and eat Skittles. Done before dark.

Our middle child went off with his friends, but remained goal-oriented. He stopped at home for a bigger bag. He stayed out the latest of the three until, mission completed, he had to shift his candy from shoulder to shoulder, the weight of it all too great for the skinny guy in a skeleton costume.

Our oldest child walked with his friends too, but slowly, conversing like three old men. They debated certain houses. They skipped plenty, as if candy was not the evening’s goal. My son, the headless horseman, waited half-way up the walk at each stop until the door opened, as if the distance was too great without a definite reward. Then the slow walk to the next house, talking, talking, talking. And suddenly, his bag barely half-full, “I’m soooo tired”, he headed home.

And Then There Were Girls

My sixth grader recently stopped insisting that he hates girls. He still rarely mentions them by name. If you ask which girls were on the team or in the class, he says he doesn’t remember. If you say the name of a girl he knows, he either blushes or rolls his eyes.

But on October 30, he went to his first real party. A Halloween party to which his entire grade was invited. Food. Music. Costumes. He said it was fun. He smiled a lot. But he gave no report.

I heard from another mom that as a result of the party, there are now a few who are dating. That night, she went down the list of her son’s friends with him. “Yes. No. No. No.” When she asked him if my son had a girlfriend, he replied, “He’s waiting for high school.”

She said he was wise.

On October 31, the boys went trick-or-treating for hours. Texts flew from cell phone to cell phone, as some of the girls tried to find the boys. And the boys tried to find the girls. When the girls and boys finally met up though, my son headed home.

“Are you okay?” I asked. His trash bag of candy was so heavy he had to keep switching shoulders.

“The girls just walk down the middle of the street talking. They skip houses. If I am not going to get more candy, then what’s the point?”

He doesn’t hate them. He’s just not ready for them – still a little kid who wants as many Kit-Kats and Twix Bars as he can carry. And wise to wait.

Peyton Manning and the Party City Guy

The leaves are changing colors, and we woke up to our first snowfall this week. The clothing style at school is confused – shorts with ski jackets. Talk of Halloween costumes started weeks ago. So yesterday, I took the boys to Party City to pick theirs out.

Pulling into the parking lot, we passed a guy in a Frankenstein-like costume with a scary mask the size of three heads.

“I wonder who that really is,” my fourth grader said, as Frankenstein twirled a big Party City arrow to entice drivers to visit. “What if it’s Peyton Manning?!”

“Yeah!” shouted the kindergartner, “Go Peyton!”

Then spoke the sarcastic preteen from the back seat, “Right… Hey, Coach, I’ve got to miss practice again today. They scheduled my Frankenstein shift at Party City.”

Peyton came up again later, as he often does in our Denver home. “Did you know that he makes $50,000 a pass, even if it’s not a completion?”

The fourth grader shook his head, “Guess he doesn’t need that Party City job anymore.”

The Switch Witch

Apparently, my sisters and I missed out on a very cool visitor when we were kids. Now my kids are missing out too.

According to legend, some very lucky households get visited by the Switch Witch a few days after Halloween.

Why I am only hearing of her now, at 45?!

Some time in the middle of the night, so the legend goes, she shows up, steals all the leftover Halloween candy in the entire house… and switches it for a gift.

The Switch Witch, though a witch and a thief, is not mean. She feels bad about her candy-stealing ways. She just can’t help herself.

So she leaves a present for each child from whom she has stolen – a set of Legos, a doll, a video game, a new basketball, a Broncos jersey – to make up for her wrongdoing. You see, she hates to see a kid cry.

I don’t know much else about her. She could be a twenty-something, granola chick with a dark side who is traveling the world to find herself…and come Halloween, storing up candy for her next year’s trek. She could be hundreds of years old but roam only in Colorado – which might explain my ignorance – because travel by broomstick is tough on her aging butt and back.

I wonder if she’s received travel tips from Santa. Maybe she is his delinquent sister, or the Easter Bunny’s cousin on the lam. Maybe she’s the forgotten daughter of the Wicked Witch of the West with a warped vision of right and wrong. Or Robin Hood’s grand-niece.

I’d like to send her an invitation to our house next Halloween.

Dear Switch Witch,

Please feel free to come by our house the first week of November for years to come. We will leave our candy out and keep the dog in the crate at night. (She’s friendly, but she jumps, and if you are short or elderly, I worry she will knock you over).

We are a family of three boys who love to trick-or-treat, and our neighbors are generous to a fault when it comes to sweets. You will like our house. And the boys won’t cry if you make the Switch Witch switch.

We usually eat all the Reeses on Halloween night anyway.

With respect,
Our Family

Invisible Hands

“Mommy, do know what’s in my brain?”


“Something I am trying to remember,” my five year old said, wearing his Halloween costume in the car on the way to school.

“But it keeps trying to get out. And invisible hands have to reach out of my head every time and put it back in.”

“Do you want me to help you remember something?”

“No, I remember now. I’m a crusader.”

Great Picture Books for October

I went into our bookshelves to pull out all of our Halloween books and start reading them to my kids again. And frankly…we have a strange number of books about bats. Not only do we have five beautiful picture books that feature friendly, cute bats, but we also have a number of factual books due to a report my nine year old did a few years ago on tent bats living in the Amazon.

So my October-themed books include both Halloween and those strange nocturnal creatures with which my boys seem so enamored:

Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White
The Graves Family by Patricia Polacco
Zen Ghosts by John Muth
We’re Off to Find the Witch’s House by Mr. Kreib and R.W. Alley
Night Song by Ari Berk and Loren Long
Bats at the Library, Bats at the Beach, and Bats at the Ballgame by Brian Lies
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams and Megan Lloyd
Which Witch’s Wand Works by Poly Bernatene

I am always on the lookout for a great picture book about Halloween, though my kids will soon grow out of them. So while they still love to hear me read to them at night, I would love your suggestions.