Friday, November 1, 2013

Help Yourself

Portland, a city not known for its great weather, has had a breathtaking fall. Let's go back, spring was great, too, and so was summer. Three seasons of beauty, with every reason to believe our winter will be spectacular, too. The forecast was for rain on Halloween, and I was hoping the forecast was wrong, and we could hold onto our streak for one more day, just so all the kids could enjoy a dry night of trick-or-treating. The forecast was indeed wrong-ish, it sprinkled a little in the morning, and the evening was dry and warm!

Wil, having eschewed trick-or-treating for 17 years, announced in early September that he was going to be a monkey. We ordered his costume and it sat in his closet, until it finally occurred to me we should take it out and try it on, just to make sure it was going to fit. The thing was one size fits "most" and nobody every accused that boy of being "most."

"It'll be fine," he said, and so it came to be that he put the outfit on in a mad dash before school on Thursday, for the very first time. Usually, our mornings are anything but mad dashes, we have way too much time because he wakes up so early, and takes very little time to actually get ready, but he needs a built-in period of lying around with the iPad, listening to iHeart Radio, before he's ready to really launch the day. It's his coffee. I went for a very early walk Thursday, and when I got back, he was still asleep, plus he had an early morning Peer Mentors meeting, hence, the mad dash.

The monkey costume came with monkey hand gloves and a big head, with the the face totally open, so I thought there was a slim chance he'd wear it, at least for a picture. No dice. And the tail. I did not factor in what having a very long tail would do to him. Let's just say that that tail became a belt more quickly than you can say, no-way-in-Hell. The "belt" cinched his pants way too high, and he was left with high waters. Basically, the only possible way of knowing he was a monkey, was if he told you he was. He mostly looked like a tall kid that had grown out of his brown pants, and happened to have a brown top on, too.

Happy as a clam that "monkey" was, to plan his first real trick-or-treating outing. In early October he'd already arranged with his friend, Tim, to go out for the evening, a plan that was going to work for both of them, because neither wanted to go long or far, and both wanted to get to bed at pretty much their usual time. But then it mushroomed. Each day Wil came home from school with a more elevated plan for the evening. I did some of my best letting go and letting God, you ever did see. I didn't call mothers. I didn't check with the boys themselves. Nary an e-mail or text was sent.

I did have the foresight to buy extra beer (for me) and two take-and-back pizzas for the crowd. All were consumed. It turned out that five boys from the program he's in at school, sat around our barely-used dining room table, and had themselves a dinner party. STM, Tim's mom, Kim, and I sat in another room, sipped on our adult beverages, and marveled at the day we thought would never come.

"Has enough been made that Wil's having a dinner party?" I must have said ten times.

The doorbell started ringing, and the boys hopped up and answered it, giving us more time to celebrate their awesomeness. When it was finally dark enough for them to go, they put on their makeshift costumes, stood briefly for a picture, and were out the door. Kim and I went to the front porch with our glasses and huge cauldron of candy, and STM stayed inside to clean up the mess. He'd pop out to refill our glasses and the candy and see how it was all going, then go back inside.

Because by this time I was so "relaxed" from all the celebrating, I opted to just put the cauldron down in front of us, rather than holding it and selecting the candy for each kid, and putting it in their bags from them. Kim and I had fun seeing the reactions when we'd say, "Help yourself!"

There were the diggers, the ones that wanted to crouch down and search for just the right piece. There were the easy-to-pleasers, the ones that just grabbed the first piece their fingers came upon. By and large, most took one piece, said thank you, and were on their way.

But not all.

One girl looked right at us, dead in the eye, after we told her to help herself, and she said, as though to dare us to argue with her, "I'll take two!"

Some would ask, "How many can I take?" To which we'd reply, "How many would you like?" Most would answer, "Two." "Have at it," we'd say, and their faces would light up with the magnitude of their haul.

One little girl, about seven, with dazzling light-blue eyes and blond hair, answered, "FIVE!" when we asked her how many she'd like. Her side kick lit up, and the two of them got down in there and foraged until they'd found just the perfect five.

They came back 20 minutes later and marched themselves right to the front of the line, and without even going through all the formalities, began their hunt all over again.

Kim is a second grade teacher, and we had a ball talking about the kind of adults these different personality types, would grow up to be. We don't need a long-term, costly research study to tell us this, the ones that know from an early age, that you've gotta ask for what you want, unapologetically, with charisma and strength, are going to be just fine. I, myself, would have taken the one on top, only one, never forgetting to say, "Trick-or-treat," and always remembering to say, "Thank you!" It's only at age 50 that I can finally stand with my hands on my hips, look someone right in the eye, smile and say, "I'll take TWO!"


kario said...

Sounds like a lovely evening for everyone. I love that Kim was in on the 'help yourself' idea, too.

Tanya Savko said...

NEHBM about Wil's party. Truly.

Angel The Alien said...

LOL! I was answering the trick-or-treat door and we had a bowl of variety pack of mini candybars, so I was just holding the bowl out and letting them choose. Most of the kids just took one and said thankyou... but I had to laugh at one little girl, about five years old, who stuck her hand in the bowl and took as many candies as she could possibly fit in her tiny little hand!