I’m a bit bah-humbug about Halloween. I hate it really. All the costumes, the face-painting, the shrieking when the face-paint has to be washed off, and the sugar. Oh God, the sugar. All those lurid colours and weird shapes. The fake eyeballs and severed fingers. The plastic spiders and other yukky things. Shudder.
Well, we discovered at the start of September that Halloween is a huge deal over here. They have special Halloween shops. The staff in shops everywhere dress up in costumes every day for nearly two months. They have a special day just before Halloween where you can bring in your dressed-up pet to have its photo taken. Seriously. The houses are decorated within an inch of their lives, and one place had turned their front garden into a graveyard, complete with headstones, zombies, witches, cobwebbed trees and all kinds of scary stuff.
So I adopted the ostrich syndrome for a while in the hope that the kids wouldn’t be bothered about Halloween. The day before, I had to pull my head out of the sand fairly quickly and organise costumes for the Halloween party in school the next day. Rebecca wanted to be a princess with wings, which was easy enough, and Isabel was a fabulous witch with a satin hat, a green face, plenty of warts and wicked red lips. The boys were all Ninjas, decked out in their karate suits and armed to the teeth with daggers etc. Rebecca insisted on make-up, so I painted her cheeks and lips pink. Then I left the make-up unattended, and found her 20 minutes later looking like something out of the Texan Chainsaw Massacre. How did the human race ever survive before baby wipes?
The Mall at Lawson Heights does trick-or-treating for a couple of hours on Halloween night, so we headed up there at 4pm to join in the fun. I’m using that term cautiously, as the fun really applied to the children, while the adults fought their way through hundreds of costumed, hyperactive, over-excited and over-sugared kids, looking frantically for their own little Spiderman/Barbie/Ninja/Ghost etc. It was hell. All the participating shops had orange signs up, and staff standing outside doling out the candy. The kids charged from shop to shop, wielding their pillowcases and shrieking “Trick or Treat” at the tops of their voices. Rebecca’s pillowcase got lower and lower to the ground, till she was heaving it along and checking every 20 seconds or so that all the goodies were still intact. We stopped for a break on a bench, and it was alarming to see all the heads bury themselves into the pillowcases, like horses into their nose-bags We worked our way down the opposite side of the Mall, and finally exited into the freezing dark, ready to continue the trick-or-treating around our estate.
June and Kelly came back to the house and helped me with the Big Cull. All lollipops and any candy that was hideous in any way were put into one box, all chocolate and bags of jellies etc, into another, and all that Kelly and June fancied, into their mouths/pockets. Off we set again, knocking on the various houses. Halfway around, Rebecca realised that her hands were freezing and painful, so she descended into sobs and was carted home over my shoulder, crown slipping, lipstick askew, still clutching her pillowcase of bounty. The next round of treasure was culled, and Michael brought one box to work the next morning. Another box was doled out at the door, and he other was put aside for us to keep. When I weighed it the next morning out of curiosity, it came to the grand total of 3.8kg. Mad stuff.
The next day was beyond hideous. The kids all whined about having to get up, fought before school, fought at lunchtime and were generally unbearable. Benjamin’s teacher rang me for a “chat” after Benjamin was asked to leave a class being given by another teacher. It all descended into an argument about “stupid” school, and my beloved son dug his heels in as usual. His teacher has endless patience, considering this followed a stand-off last week about the need to take out a book from the school library. The teacher won both times. Nicholas had been reprimanded the day before for “spying” over the tops of the toilet cubicles. “Everyone else was doing it” was his excuse, but he was the only one that was caught twice. Twit. Isabel jumped into the pool during training and landed on top of another child, so she had hysterics all the way home. Christopher answered me back every time I addressed him, and Rebecca had a 90 minute tantrum at lunchtime, which mainly involved her lying face-down on the ground, drumming her heels and screaming “I WANT MORE CANDY!!!!” over and over again. I was a basket case by 7pm. I’m sticking by my original thought here. I hate Halloween. And the aftermath. The chocolate is grand, but you can keep the rest of it.