Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Guilt

Mommy raced to get the kids home after work. After finishing up some grading and organizing at school, going to the bank to withdraw babysitter money, and going through a drive through for some much needed caffeine, Mommy finally reached Lil Buddy at 4:30. She was off schedule. She was supposed to get him at 4, then Sweet Potata at 4:15, so they could be home by 4:40, out the door for trick or treating at 4:50. Her plan was to walk two blocks into the adjoining, really nice neighborhood; the one with the pretty houses. The one with no graffiti. The one with a Starbucks and a college campus. That’s where they would trick or treat. Just 5 or 6 houses until Lil Buddy grew tired. Maybe more. It would be perfect.

But Mommy was really late. She got Lil Buddy at 4:30, then Sweet Potata at 4:45. And Sweet Potata needed extra time to get her coat and shoes on over her chubby ladybug costume. Her striped black and red legs kicked wildly as mommy carried her to the car. She squealed with delight. Mommy looked down at Lil Buddy and a tiny train conductor smiled up at her “Happy Halloween Mommy,” he said. With a CTA patch on his shoulder and hat, and a mass transit map in his pocket, he looked like a very small city official. Mommy wanted to scoop him up too.

Lil Buddy turned in circles on the lawn as Mommy buckled Sweet Potata into her car seat. The seat belt was tight over the lady bug stuffing. Sweet Potata didn’t complain though, she just looked at mommy with big eyes.

In the car, Lil Buddy said, “I’m tired. I wanna go home.”

“But we’re gonna go trick or treating,” said Mommy. “You want to go get candy and treats,right?

“Umm, okay,” said Lil Buddy. Mommy was a little surprised, but then again, this was the time of day that they usually headed home. Lil buddy would take off his shoes and then curl up on the couch. He was exhausted by 5 everyday.

Mommy cringed with working mom guilt. She should have just left school at 3, gone right to Lil Buddy, and then Sweet Potata. Everyone would be more awake, but Sweet Potata would have had to wait until later for dinner. She held onto hope that the kids would make it through a few houses. This was the first official year that Mommy took Lil Buddy trick or treating. In the past, they went to Lincoln Square for a Halloween party and trick or treating on the Saturday close to Halloween. That was enough. But Lil Buddy was 5, and Mommy was certain that he should officially trick or treat on Halloween night. Mommy was determined to make that happen, even after a very long day at work.

Mommy parked, and then took her “minute.” She always took a minute or two to gather herself and find the energy to haul the kids and all of their collective stuff out of the car. To decide what should stay. This time, though, her minute was only 30 seconds. She opened the back door and unwrapped and pulled Sweet Potata from her seat. She held her 20 pound Sweet Potata on her left side and opened the passenger door with her right. She reached down and grabbed her bag and through it over the right shoulder. She closed the door and opened Lil Buddy’s door. She carefully bent down with baby and bag, to un latch his seat belt. She helped Lil Buddy out with her free right hand. She watched for cars with one finger on Lil Buddy’s hood. She closed the door. The whole gang carefully crossed the street and went into the house.

Mommy put bags down, and passed the baby into another hand as she unlocked doors and mailboxes. Mommy’s legs burned as she carried baby and bags up to the second floor. Inside the door, Lil Buddy took off his shoes and coat and lay on the couch. Mommy wanted to do that too.

“No, honey,” said Mommy, “We are going out, remember? Trick or Treating!”

“Rookayyyyyy,” said Lil Buddy.

Mommy summoned her last energy reserve to unload stuff, bundle herself and the kids for the cold, and find Lil buddy’s plastic pumpkin. She saved some energy for the stroller.

Back at the car, Mommy did what she thought would be her final heroic physical act of the day. She unlocked the trunk and pulled the giant Jeep “beep beep” stroller from the car, with Sweet Potata in her other arm. The she unlatched it so it could unfold by doing this graceful side bending/pair skating move with the baby. She squatted with baby and adjusted the recline on the seat. Sweet potato squealed with happiness. Thank goodness she loved riding in the beep beep. Mommy’s left shoulder was about to go numb. She plopped Sweet potato in, strapped her down, blanketed her feet, and put the steering wheel attachment on so she could push buttons and make music. She popped the front wheel on to the lawn and then heaved the whole thing up to the side walk where Lil Buddy was waiting.

“I’m sooo tired!” he said.

“Oh honey!” said Mommy, “this is going to be fun! Think of all the candy you’ll collect!”

“I don’t want candy, Mommy! Just treats.”

“umm, okay.” And they headed down the block, turning left to cut across to the college campus and take a short cut to the Nice Neighborhood.

“My tummy hurts my tummy hurts, my tummy hurts,” Lil Buddy cried out. He clutched his tummy and bent forward. He did his fake whimper. Mommy new that despite the amped drama, he either did have a hurt tummy, or he was just really really tired. Mommy was way off schedule and Lil Buddy was way past his tired point. She cringed with guilt again.

“Do you need a little snack?” asked Mommy, pulling  a bag of bunny grahams from her pocket.

“no!” said Lil Buddy. But Sweet Potata reached for them so Mommy gave her a few.

“Do you need to go potty?”

“No! my tummy hurts!”

“What do you want to do honey?”

“I want to go home and rest on the couch.”

“Are you sure? You don’t want to trick or treat?”

“No! Rest on the couch!”


“Okay,” said Mommy. “let’s go.” And she steered the beep beep back toward home. The walk was long! Lil Buddy was miserable. “Roh!” he moaned.

She rubbed his back with her free hand. “Almost there,” she said.

As they rounded the corner, she realized she didn’t have a plan for the stroller. Daddy was supposed to meet them while they were out, but he wouldn’t be home just yet. She was not about to fold the stroller and put it back in the car with one hand. She decided to bring it in the front door.

She let Lil Buddy in, then pulled Sweet potato out. Baby was miserable that her ride was over so soon. She yelped and yelped.

She moved the stroller to the side and quickly took the kids up to their apartment. She let them in. She put Sweet Potata down on the floor and took off her coat and hat. She helped lil buddy out of his coat and hat and shoes and he went straight to his bed.

“do you want water? Some crackers?”

“no, no, no. I want to rest,” he said. Mommy shut the door and ran down the stairs to the stroller. She looked at it and thought for a moment. Then she dragged that thing up two flights of stairs to the apartment. She wheeled it in and Sweet Potata squealed. She picked her up and put her back in it. Sweet Potata played with the steering wheel and buttons. She was delighted. Mommy wheeled her into the kitchen and started dinner.

At this point, she hoped Lil Buddy would just fall asleep from his long day. Sure enough he did.

Mommy felt some guilt but she knew that Lil Buddy had all the candy and fun he needed on Halloween. Next year she would get it right.

She turned on the oven and then reached for her phone to text Daddy:

Plz gt wine


  1. Great Halloween story.
    Trick or treating, among other things, is sometimes more about us feeling like we made it happen for them, than what they really want.

  2. So true Keesha. It's also about me buying those little bags of M and Ms for the scores of children who never come to our building. Ahhh, what to do with those now?