Sunday, 31 October 2010

14. Halloween: One Toddler's Heaven is another's Hell

Magpie is cheered up by a hot dog bun at her first Halloween party

.....and she takes in the finer details of her Halloween monster plate
...while The Tank holds on to her plate like an avant-garde clutch bag
Halloween.  Hmm.  Never really been my thing.  And my father died on Halloween.  Four years ago today.  Four years?  Hard to believe he never met the divine (but often devilish) creatures that are his grandchildren.

I took the girls to their first Halloween party this week.

My friend and host has 3 year-old twins (a girl and a boy) and a 20 month-old toddler who has more hair than Cindy Crawford.  My friend is the most chilled mother on earth; she just does her own thing.  She doesn't do rice cakes (how does a mother survive without the Organix snack, whether plain, apple or bluberry-favoured?) but instead makes her own dried snacks.  Her 20 month-old still drinks milk out of a teat and bottle.

I was so worried about my girls looking liked big babies, I whisked their milk bottles away from them around their first birthday (but don't have the heart to ban them sleeping with dummies, as nobody sees that).  Perhaps that's the difference between me and my friend - I care what people think (because I don't really know what I'm doing) and mothering to her is just instinctive, and that's probably why she's trying for numero quattro and quite relaxed about the prospect of Four Under Four.  And yes, so far, she's done it all by herself (unless you count a smelly German au pair who lasted a couple of weeks, then forgot to hold my hostess's children's hands near the edge of a cliff). 

But I digress.

The Halloween Party.   The Tank shook off her coat, grabbed her witch's hat, nicked somebody else's toy broom and settled in the middle of the toddler throng as if she was hooking up with old friends.  Meanwhile, Magpie hung onto me like a baby chimp.  If I so much as moved her face crumpled.  It was like playing that game Grandmother's footsteps, with me trying to creep away, but of course Magpie's eyes weren't shut!

The Tank holds court whille looking thoughtful.  My host's divine daughter with an insane amount of dark hair is at the back, with pink sleeves held up to her face
 When food arrived (hot dogs, egg sandwiches, smoothies), The Tank grabbed everything in sight while Magpie remained firmly on my lap (I'd given up trying to escape).  Fortunately, a hot dog soon provided Magpie with enough comfort to give up on me, at least for a bit.  A toddler who had moved around too much and eaten too much was violently sick.  Another toddler pressed a few buttons on a stereo and hey presto the host's guilty secret: Abba. Magpie knows Abba.  I used to play it.  She started dancing in her satsuma-coloured witch's dress (her dance involves turning clockwise endlessly, until she falls over).  You'd think puking would be a great way of clearing a toddler dance floor.  But Magpie kept turning in circles.  Until I scooped her up and away from the puke bomb lying on the floor like a curdled eggy-bread mess.

'Who wants to go Trick or Treating?' said our hostess with complete calm, amidst the kiddie chaos and fumes of puke-banishing Dettol.

'Not me!' I groaned (to myself).

Now going Trick or Treating with two seventeen-month-olds is an interesting, nay, amibtious experience.

The Tank, blonde but in navy, is on the left in my host's arms; Magpie is on my lap in red (far right)
I gave The Tank to my hostess to drag along the road, while I carried Magpie.  Catering to the girls' different emotional needs (The Tank - independence, Magpie - safety) worked well.

The Tank joined our trick or treating gang at several shiny front doors (but inappropriately wearing a smart navy coat that disguised her lilac witch costume) and was clever enough to choose an Oreo over a Milky Way (the Oreo doesn't have a wrapper, so she could take a bite before I cruelly confiscated it).

The Tank (front right), loses ground climbing the step with less speed than the 2-3 year olds
When I put Magpie down, instead of walking up front gardens, she moaned and went on all fours (no, she wasn't immitating a werewolf).  Admitting defeat (it was past her bedtime), I strapped her in the car and continued to shadow The Tank, saving her from the sugary spell of another Oreo or three (there were lots of Americans on this street).

The Tank (front left) clutches her second-choice booty close to her mouth (the Oreo had already been confiscated)
If you have read my previous post Magpie, Bugs and the Basement of Doom, you will know that Magpie is not, I repeat not, short of bravery.  She will handle a big hairy spider with one hand but clearly is not so keen on the fakery and crazy commercialisation of Halloween.


  1. Blimey (explanation mark) it made me cry (a few more aexplanation marks) :-) Pics on there way.

  2. So nice to see you up here, even if anonymously! Thanks for sourcing the extra pics. Big Daddy cropped them for me to give The Tank more

  3. Like mother like daughter? Give her a few more years and there'll be no stopping her! (Sorry to hear about your Dad - mine passed away Christmas last year so know how you feel).
    Right, off to buy some balloons and a labrador;)

  4. I think Halloween is something that you can feel blase or indifferent about until kids arrive, like Easter egg hunts or Santa Claus. Can't wait until little T is older and I can dress her up! Great pics, by the way! Keep up the good work on this blog!

  5. Agreed! Look forward to seeing T at the playgroup on Monday. xx