The Halloween Miracle

How old is too old to trick-o-treat?

My boys are still in elementary school. My oldest is in the 5th grade and is quickly becoming a young man. At least he thinks he is. He is at that age where you want to start to lean towards grown-up behavior (being more conscientious of your appearance and how you are perceived by others) and losing his childhood innocence.

I thought he would trick-o-treat throughout elementary school. Imagine my surprise when I asked him in early October what he wanted to be for Halloween and his response was, “Oh, I’m not going trick-o-treating this year. I think I’m getting to old for it.” Instead of accepting what he said, I immediately tried to get him to change his mind. “Are you sure? There aren’t many more years you’ll want to go trick-o-treating.” “You love trick-o-treating why wouldn’t you want to do it this year?” “Aren’t your friends and classmates dressing up?” And finally, “I’ll level with you, there are only a few precious years where Mom and Dad get to do kid things with you, trick-o-treating is one of them, let us take you trick-o-treating, you don’t even have to dress up.” Oh, it was pathetic. I was a bit disappointed in myself for how close I had gotten to almost begging my son to let us experience this with him one more year. If he doesn’t want to do it, I need to respect that and not try to manipulate him into doing it one more time. I decided to back off–kind of.

A week went by. “Have you changed your mind by chance about trick-o-treating this year?” I asked. “Nope, not going to do it,” he replied. Drats I thought.

And another. “Are you sure you don’t want a costume?” I tried again. “No. I already told you. I’m not going trick-o-treating” he reminded me. Okay, okay, I just need to accept this whether I like it or not I concluded. I didn’t bring it up again.

Then it happened. After several days following my last attempt, my son came home. “How was your day?” I asked. “It was okay,” he shared then continued, “Mom, remember how I said I wasn’t going to dress up for Halloween? Well, I changed my mind. I think I want to be an Army soldier.” It was hard for me to hide my joy (not to mention my relief — I would get one more year of this tradition. Yes!). “Of course!” I told him. He smiled. And while it would be easy to say I got what I wanted, I think we both did. He gets to pretend to be a soldier (something he’s currently interested in) and I get my little (okay, not so little) boy for my one year.

This was a miracle, a Halloween miracle, and I am ever so grateful for it.

How do you handle your child outgrowing a treasured tradition?

 

Grab a Blanket and Snuggle Up — its Time for Favorite Fall Traditions

What part of Fall do you love the most?

There is a reason so many of us love this time of year. There is a nostalgia for me around Fall’s of old and the warmth and comfort that goes along with the season. I hope my kids are developing similar memories.

One of our favorite traditions is going to the pumpkin patch. We go each year with family and enjoy all the pumpkin patch has to offer: hot cider, Halloween decorations, pumpkins (of course) and fields upon fields of farmland to explore. Our boys love running through the fields with us or their cousins to find the perfect pumpkin or explore the corn maze.

Another is watching the leaves change color. From green to a bright yellow, fire orange or deep red–the leaves changing invokes such an appreciation inside for the beauty around me–even when it is getting colder and a little drearier outside. I point the change in color to my boys each morning when we are outside. I hope they are appreciating this magical change as much as I am.

Hot apple cider or hot chocolate. A cup of one provides a warmth beyond what the beverage is providing. When I take a sip I experience a memory of being loved and safe. Those of pretty powerful things to feel from such a simple drink. My boys love the drinks, but prefer their drinks not-so-hot. With these drinks being much easier to get year round than when I was growing up, I wonder if they will enjoy them as much as I do, or if they will ever have the same effect.

Decorations. Each year our kids eagerly await getting the decorations out. We don’t have many, but that ones we do have we all treasure. Haunted Houses that light up. An animatronic haunted tree that sings a spooky song, and a lamp that casts jack-o-lantern faces on the wall. The kids love them all, and so do my husband and I.

Pumpkin Carving. This is a tradition my sister started. Instead of carving our pumpkins at home, she gathers friends and family together to carve our pumpkins together. There is a house full of people, with plenty of food and good conversation to go around. It’s fun to be creative and inspire each other in what we carve and watch our kids go from observers to expert carvers over the years.

The Fall hold so many wonderful memories for me–its like wrapping yourself in a warm, soft blanket–comforting and joyous.

What are you and your family’s favorite Fall traditions? What do you love the most about the season?

Stormy Weather

Does your child get upset by thunder and lightning?

When I was a child, I hated it and would run to my parents room whenever thunder clapped or lightning flashed. The loud noises scared me and I coveted the safety of my parents arms. I just wanted to know everything was going to be okay.

This weekend in the Pacific NW they are forecasting stormy weather–high winds, power outages and lots of rain. My boys are anxious about what the weekend weather will bring, but instead of waiting for the storm to approach and wanting my husband and I to comfort them, they are proactively preparing for it. Our youngest instructed us to keep everything plugged in that we needed battery power for, in case we do lose power. Our oldest made sure we have enough food to hold us over for a few days, I filled up the car with gas and my husband cleared the storm drains as precautions. The kids have even come up with ideas for ways to pass the time should we need to stay indoors without electricity: watch a movie on the DVD player, play board games, or tell each other stories. While I’d prefer to not lose power, there is a part of me that is looking forward to wreathing the storm together as a family.

Stormy weather can be unsettling, unpredictable and scary. While the thought of volatile weather isn’t fun to think about, I feel like my family is as prepared as we can be. It’s comforting to know we’ll weather whatever the storm brings together.

How does your child handle stormy weather? How does your family weather the storm?

Pokémon Go Will Save Us?

Are you competitive? Is your child?

I learned about competition when I joined my neighborhood swim team when I was in elementary school. It only took one meet for me to recognize that if I was going to enjoy being on the team I needed to be competitive. The transition from not being aware of the benefits of being competitive to understanding them was quick. By the next meet, I was in it to win it. I was going to swim my fastest, I wanted to win!

My oldest son has also embraced his competitive side. He enjoys sports and is always looking to try something new to test his skills and capabilities. He is passionate about winning and struggles with defeat.  I have questioned why we place such a high value on competition based on seeing the highs and lows my son has experienced, and I have in competitive situations.

I came across the documentary, I Am, several years ago thanks to Oprah.  Tom Shadyac was exploring happiness after experiencing great success (winning!) but not feeling happy. He invited scientists and other subject matter experts to explore the topic with him and the output was the documentary. One idea that emerged was that the long-term survival of species (ants, for example) depended largely on cooperation. In these species cooperation is highly valued and competition has low/no value. Being a competitive ant doesn’t serve the colony well. It would in fact, be counter to a colony’s survival. Humans still have a ways to go. Our children aspire to be elite athletics, movie starts, singer or someone ‘famous.’ Competition to be number 1 is still fierce, but what if cooperation became more highly valued and easy (or easier) to achieve?

My oldest son loves Pokémon Go. It’s become something he and I have connected over. We take walks together so he can play, and I play Pokémon Go when I travel so he and I can stay connected. He asked me to take him to a local park that is known for having lots of Pokémon. When we got to the park, I was amazed. There were literally hundreds of people–mainly kids but also teens and adults, of all shapes and sizes, colors and creeds–all working together to catch Pokémon. Pokémon present themselves to you on your device, if you and other Pokémon players are in the same location, it presents the same Pokémon to all, not a select few. So instead of people fighting over who is going to catch the Pokémon, everyone has an equal chance. It then becomes a matter of what technique you use (candy, great ball, ultimate ball, etc.) to catch the Pokémon. In the park, not only were the players sharing information about where the Pokémon were that they were finding, but what techniques they were using to catch the Pokémon so others could catch them to. It was cooperation at it’s finest. Observing everyone working together was really inspiring. While I was reluctant to embrace Pokémon Go when it first launched based on some of the initial press the game was getting, I’ve become a fan. And after seeing what I did at the park, I’m an even bigger fan. If something like this game can bring people together, just think of the possibilities for the human race.

Where have you seen people working together in an unexpected place? Where have you, or your child, found cooperation outdo competition?

Cast Away

Has your child ever tried out for something–position on a sport, part in a play, chair in the band, part in the choir –and wished they had tried for another later?

My youngest son has been in his school’s play every year since kindergarten. Each year, the students in grades K-2 are given support roles, for the most part, they are background characters that participate in small, but meaningful ways — singing songs or milling about as if they are part of a larger crowd.  The older kids, in grades 3-5, get priority for the roles with speaking parts with the highest grade getting highest priority.

My son, who is in the third grade decided to try out for a speaking part, but was clear he didn’t want to be a main character in this year’s production of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He and I practiced the lines he was given. He put extra effort into playing a convincing Mr. Bucket (Charlie’s dad) for his audition, but when the cast list came out he learned he would play the part of an Oompa Loompa. He was very disappointed. I asked him ‘why?’ He gave me a look that said ‘give-me-a-break-mom-you-know-why.’ After I stayed quiet for a few moments he said, “It’s embarrassing. I’ll barely have any lines.”  “But I didn’t think you wanted many lines?” I said. “I said I didn’t want to be a main main character like Charlie or Willy Wonka,” he shared. “Okay, well, we’ll have to let the director know that next year so she knows you’re interested in a role with more lines,” I finished.

Our exchange reminded me of times in my life when I held myself back from really going for something — trying for a top position/seat on a team, or singing a solo at church to name a few. I often regretted not going for it afterwards. While there was some relief in knowing I wouldn’t be embarrassed if I failed, I was disappointed I didn’t push myself to try harder and show the talent I really had — not so others would understand my potential, but that I would.

My son will have another opportunity next year to try out for a part in the play, and I will encourage him to really go for it and see what he can accomplish. I’ll be able to remind him of what happens when you hold yourself back — you just don’t know what you’re capable of.

What do you do when your child tries to ‘cast’ off really going for a tough role or part? How do you encourage them to work through their reluctance so they can see their full potential?