Life Lessons for Trick-or-Treat
Life Lessons are tough. They are unpredictable and often present themselves at inopportune times. This was one of those times.
Monday, 24 October – Mid walked into my bedroom at approximately 4:30am, scaring the living hell out of me. He was standing over me, breathing heavily and smelled terrible. “I threw up”, he muttered, “Can I sleep with you?” I jumped out of bed, woke JB (on accident, I swear), and got Mid cleaned up. I proceeded into his bedroom and assess the damage to the bed, carpet and bathroom. It was minimal, so I cleaned everything and returned to my bedroom to find him fast asleep in my bed. I woke him to be sure that he knows where I have placed the puke bucket. Mid stayed home from school that day, obviously, and by mid-afternoon he was smarting off to me, letting me know that he was on the mend.
Wednesday, 26 October – I received a call from school that Apprentice was complaining of a tummy ache. Due to Monday morning’s sickness in the house, I naturally went to school to pick him up. He came home, said he wanted to try to eat something, pooped, took a nap and was right back to normal. Whew!
Monday, 31 October – I received a call from school that Apprentice was complaining of a really bad tummy ache. I talked with him and asked if he had pooped yet that day. “No”, he replied, “can you come and get me? I don’t feel good.” I went to school to pick him up. On the way home I explained to him that if he is too sick to be in school he is definitely too sick to go out begging for food trick-or-treating that evening. He begged, pleading with me to let him rest and then he would be fine to go out. I refused, giving him a “Fred” speech. (A “Fred” speech is one that I received from my father during my youth that I like to regurgitate every now and again. And he thought I wasn’t listening.) I explained that everyone has a job. His dad goes to an office every day, I work at our house every day and he, along with his sister and brother, go to school every day. As a child, school is your job, I told him. And when you are too sick to do your job, you are also too sick to play. We compromised that he could put on his Halloween costume for the evening, but I was not relenting on the trick-or –treat. Upon our arrival home he asked for a snack as I was checking out his lunch bag. I noticed that he had not eaten his raisins, so I gave him the raisins with some warm water. The warm water makes my kids poop; I don’t know why, my mom told me to do it once. Anyway, 15 minutes later he returned from the bathroom a new man. His tummy ache was gone and he was ready to roam the neighborhood. I reminded him that he was too sick for school and therefore too sick for trick-or-treat. He pouted.
As the witching hour approached, JB arrived home to much fanfare and applause. The kids knew that he would be taking them out trick-or-treating and were pleased to see him arrive home early. Except the Apprentice. He let his siblings and dad know about my talk with him and let them know that he would not be going out. He was going to hand out candy at our house with me. Clearly, I had made my point. I was pleased with myself and knew that my dad would be proud. You would think this is where it ends, but it is not.
The Girl and Mid starting strategizing how they would take turns carrying their brother’s bag and explain the situation to the neighbors. Surely they would understand and fill his bag as well. They were not about to let their brother go without candy and other assorted junk treats on our first Halloween in a new country. They informed Apprentice of their plans and with his approval, shared the plan with JB and me. We shared a look. All had eaten a good dinner and clearly Apprentice was not sick. Truth was that he just cramped up and had trouble with the #2 that morning. When he told his teacher why he had been in the bathroom so much she took him to the office and advised him to call home. As the kids worked out their little plan, JB called me aside to speak outside the kids’ earshot. He reasoned that we should allow Apprentice to go out. It was, after all, their first Halloween in a new country and a few years from now, how did I want them remember it? He was going to meet up with some neighborhood buddies. He clearly understood my stump speech from earlier.
I caved. I told Apprentice that I could tell he was not really sick and had changed my mind. He could go out trick-or-treating with his dad, brother and sister. I was going to stay home and hand out the candy alone. He thought for a moment, asked if I would be Okay and assured me that he would not eat any candy that evening. I responded that I would be just fine; he should go have fun, but not too much.
This post was to be about the life lesson that I taught my son and the emotional scarring personal growth that followed (too sick for school = too sick for trick-or-treat). In the end, I learned a life lesson that I need to listen to my own speech about being flexible and taking things as they come. A few years from now I want them to remember their first time trick-or-treating in Canada as a common sibling experience, not one where one of them was left behind. I am glad I caved was smart enough to realize that I could change my mind. And the extra candy is nice as well..