expectation vs reality

Subtitle: A Holiday Fable I am Doomed to Repeat Forever and Ever

If you have a kid, every goddamn month there is an obligation. When I was little, (latch key swinging around my neck, thick stack of Babysitter’s Club books wedged under my bed), we did birthdays and Christmas up big. Two holidays. Spoiled and beautiful and the smell of freshly blown out candles and cats shitting out tinsel. Perfect.

Simplicity is no more. January: you’re making some calendar together with feathers and freshly fallen out baby teeth; February is some heart stamp made from chicken blood sponged onto homemade paper created with an indoor firepit, hot leather and sticky curdled yogurt. You get the point. Every month, every time, it is excessive and sucky and, worst of all, I now buy into it whole hog because I don’t want Stella to "miss out." (Working Mom guilt is deep and sharp and eats the part of your brain that used to make sense.)

The one thing I forget, every single time, is that SHE DOESN’T GIVE TWO SHITS. She’ll break into interpretive dance and smile with her whole face when we push play for the 7,000th time on Toy Story 2, but a holiday, with presents and/or glitter, food, stickers and gravy – she Hulks off her tiny cardigan to reveal a freshly inked tattoo reading MEH.

And yet, I try. Now, it’s October. First, a brief history of the month.

Halloween 2010. She was one month old. I wasn’t going to be the dick trick or treating with a barely alive human strapped to my chest. You laugh, but I saw that couple. I really really did. I guess their costumes that year were cheap shitbags with HUGE balls.

Halloween 2011. Looking over at my husband, “Will she remember this?" "Nah, we got another year.”

Halloween 2012. We jammed her flailing body into what essentially was cozy jammies with an owl face on the hood and did a Punky Brewster-style Halloween. That consisted of knocking on a few doors on our own floor and then calling it a night with some home-made caramel apples. We didn’t even go outside. That’s some next level non-parenting.

Halloween 2013. Stella is now three. She’s not going to be at the water cooler comparing candy hauls, but I felt like, this year for SURE, she would at least be a willing participant. So, following the rules of Facebook that say in October if you have a child you are supposed to take them to a pumpkin patch and get all Anne Geddes and shit, I took her to a pumpkin patch this last weekend.

Facts I now know about pumpkin patches.

~They aren’t romantic, mist-filled dewy fields of wonder.

~They are nowhere near Gastown where I live.

~Men who work on farms that have pumpkin patches get a little BITCHY if you leave a tap running for 7 seconds too long while trying to wash bunny dander off your 3 year old’s fingers.

~October is when things on farms ROT and they are not afraid to smell like rotting.

~Crows are NOT welcome. To ensure they get that message loud and clear, this farm killed and strung up three of them in an amazingly terrible tableau and then positioned it directly on the route of the hay rides. My Mom, with her ace eyes, even called attention to it as we drew closer, all “Oooh, hey Stella what is ----------" (Sour cries dying in her throat.)

I laughed and yanked her head away, imagining if the kid on the tractor pulling us was narrating this shitty tour, “And on the left you’ll see some excellent fodder for your children’s future night terrors.” That kid driving – his jeans were held up by a rope belt. It wasn’t a costume. I am a city bitch and I’m sorry but that little detail made me so sad. And then I almost slid in revenge crow shit, because there were ZERO crows, but every second pumpkin was plastered in shit, so, touche crows.  

So to recap: She hated the bunnies, the pigs were fucking in a corner, the weird pupppet hybrid man/pig strumming a banjo was scary, she didn’t want to feed the goats, she didn’t want to touch or do or choose or pose with anything. The only time she wasn’t mewing in my ears, getting mud all over my jacket because fuck no to walking, was the 12 minutes it took to eat an ice cream cone (the HIGHLIGHT of a trip to a PUMPKIN PATCH), and when I put her on my shoulders from the exit to our car.

Slamming home after leaving her with Grandma for the night, I reported back to my husband what I always do after these exhausting and ultimately parentally soul crushing disappointments. All told, with drive time, I spent about 5 hours trying to make her love something she instead shit on with the fury of a thousand vengeance-seeking crows.

Happy Hallowe’en Everyone!