Friday, November 1, 2013
Yep. It's true. I'm a Halloween curmudgeon. Thanks Lucy Calkins for introducing me to this word because it suits me perfectly every October 31st AND November 1st.
As a child I remember loving Halloween. My favorite costume was a homemade roller skating waitress get up. The best part of the costume was the Coca-Cola tray that had two glasses glued to the bottom. A real do-it-yourself special. During the parade I wore my roller skates (not roller blades - man, I'm old) and just loved holding my tray and swishing around the parade circle. The only other distinct Halloween memory I have was when I was much younger and my parents would not let us go trick or treating until we all finished a bowl of split pea soup. Gross. It was a torturous meal that eventually led to candy, but I am forever scarred. Never serve me split pea soup - it's too traumatizing.
If I loved Halloween as a child, how did I become a Halloween curmudgeon? It's really quite simple. I became a teacher. Every Halloween students flock to school carrying their costumes, anxious to share their creations bursting out of their skin. Of course, we try to run the school day as usual - math, reading, recess. "Let's settle down class. I know you are excited, but we have work to do!" How many times is that said across the world on October 31st? Nothing is usual about Halloween day at school. The kids are amped up to levels that would be profitable if only the energy could be bottled. Some years I have also had the pleasure of contending with well intended parents who share the same enthusiasm as their students and insist on decorating the room, providing cupcakes and goody bags and even craft making. Calgon - take me away!!
At some point in the day - it's time. "You may now change into your costumes." The flood gates open and that last little bit of self-control flies out the window as sheets, masks, wands and boots are pulled out of bags and put on. Don't forget the tears for the child that left their mask at home, or the anger of a child at their parent because they aren't in the classroom on time to help put the glasses on just right.
Once the kids are dressed we get to go to the parade. I have to admit, it's very sweet to see the kids so proud of their ensembles. I especially love seeing the Pre-K and Kinder students. Students wave at their friends and parents as they travel from one end of the blacktop to the other. The parade is a kid friendly red carpet affair! Papparazzi parents snap photo after photo and wave frantically at their child hoping to make eye contact. We all feel good on the inside, even me.
But then the parade ends and the kids file back into the classroom. They are mentally and physically ready to trick or treat. But alas, they must suffer through a class party. Mostly it's me suffering through - the kids thoroughly enjoy themselves. By the time the students are dismissed, I'm done. Exhausted. The energy I have to use throughout the day is tremendous and by the end of the day, I'm fried. I don't know how teachers who have their own kids manage this day. At least I just get to go home and relax and unwind with some "juice". But teachers then get to take their own kids trick or treating. It's almost cruel and unusual punishment. (Do you hear the curmudgeon in my voice yet?)
I was so fried this year, that I went home and sat in a dark house so I wouldn't have to answer the door and hand out candy. Terrible. But, admitting that I'm a curmudgeon is the first step in overcoming my cranky attitude, right?
I think I would like Halloween a lot better if it was on a Friday. It is CRUEL to have school the day after Halloween. The students come in zombie like, full of sugar, tired from late night adventures and so not ready to be productive.
Halloween should just be celebrated the last Friday of October - no need to keep it on the 31st. This might be the answer to curmudgeon behaviors. Who's with me???