Halloween Hangover – Part 2

No, I didn’t make my costume. I made the simple ghost one.

In last Friday’s blog post, Halloween Hangover – Part 1, I pontificated on how Halloween changes from a carnal event when you’re childless, back to being all about fun size Kit-Kats and make-shift hobo costumes once you pop out a few kids. After my two little gremlins came along I somehow got it in my head that everything about Halloween had to be crafted from my lovingly maternal hands. Never mind that I was about as crafty as a dirt clod.

So to help you feel better about your lack of homemade Halloween prowess, here is that list I promised you of stupid Halloween domesticity stunts I pulled when my kids were little.

Made My Kids’ Halloween Costumes

Oh good lord, what was I thinking? I had a sewing machine that I used strictly for making throw pillows and hemming curtains. Now I was going to outfit our entire family as if we were the cast of Sweeney Todd. One year I made pumpkin costumes for my toddler son, my husband, and me, complete with hats that had green curly stems. We looked like the trailer trash offspring of the Jolly Green Giant. And this was BEFORE I had the October baby. I spent more time making those damn costumes than I did doing our taxes. We wore them once. In public. Enough said.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Do you know how hard it is to separate a pumpkin seed from pumpkin goo? I had an easier time giving birth. Both newborns and pumpkin seeds are about a slippery as a Wall Street banker, but with pumpkin seeds there’s like 10,000 of them to wrangle.

Quinn’s artwork. Obviously I was unable to rescue these seeds in time.

Then after you clean, dry and roast them, and set them out for all to admire, one of two things happens:

  1. Certain persons under five feet tall proclaim loudly, “Eww, those are icky. I don’t like them!” or
  2. Any teenagers within a block consume them in a matter of seconds.

And when you ask the latter if they liked your labor-intensive roasted pumpkin seeds, all you get is a stoic, “Yeah, they were okay.”

Either way, it just makes you want to slit your wrists.

Made the House Even Scarier

Because Quinn, my Halloween baby, turned out to be a horrormeister, we did have Halloween themed birthday parties, complete with homemade haunted houses. At first we “haunted” a few rooms in the house, then the whole house, then we graduated to turning the entire garage into a haunted maze. But with each upgrade the hauntings got scarier, to the point that kids who came to the parties wouldn’t go through the mazes anymore. I think the turning point came when we started chasing them around with a chainsaw. (Which, by the way, was oddly therapeutic.)

Went to Haunted Houses and Corn Mazes

To avoid having to have the neighborhood kids sign liability waivers when they came to Quinn’s birthday parties, we moved the annual event to commercial haunted houses and mazes when Quinn was about 11. In the Salt Lake area (where we live) there are a lot of options, but we settled on the Haunted Corn Maze at Cornbelly’s at Thanksgiving Point and Nightmare on 13th in Salt Lake.

The reason behind the therapy most of Quinn’s friends will need as adults

Kids would enthusiastically come to the party, talking big about how they would stand up to any monsters that dared to get in their way. Then I’d pay for all to go in, but at the last minute at least half the kids would chicken out. Of course there were no refunds, so I basically paid for these yellow-bellied, pint-sized, trash-talkers to ride 30-plus miles in my car for no apparent reason. How thrilling.

Attrition eventually took over and as of last year, only one kid, Patrick, would come to Quinn’s birthday party, because the rest knew what they were in for. We took Quinn, his brother Derrick, and Patrick to dinner at the California Pizza Kitchen and then to Nightmare on 13th afterward. It was a lot of fun and certainly more manageable than comforting 10 crying kids who were traumatized as a result of being chased by a hockey-masked psycho running wild in a haunted corn maze.

I’ll say this, having a kid who makes Harold in the movie Harold and Maude look like a preschool teacher sure saves you a lot on children’s birthday parties.

Bought Back the Halloween Candy

I still do this, because my teenagers still insist on trick-or-treating. Thus bringing more junky candy into this house than Willy Wonka on sugar bender.

After they return from their pillaging with sacks full of teeth-rotting goodness, I offer to buy the candy back. I start the bidding at $10 for entire bag. When they were younger, they’d take this deal, but since then they’ve figured out you get more if you negotiate by the pound. I also give them the best deal if they sell it back that night. I offer $5 per pound (a bag of candy from trick-or-treating is usually three to four pounds) just to throw the whole sugary mess out as soon as they get home. But then the price goes down one dollar per day for everyday they don’t sell it back. After day four I just take it, toss it, and they get nada in terms of money. I love my dentist as friend, but hate paying him to have my kids’ teeth drilled and filled. Especially after I’ve already paid the orthodontist big bucks to have those buck teeth (also known as big bucks teeth) straightened.

Needless to say, now that my kids are 17 and 14 Halloween is not the squeal-with-excitement event it used to be. They still like to dress up and go out that night, but being that they’re teenagers that’s scarier than any haunted house or maze we’ve ever done. Hopefully, anyone dressed as a cop who shows up on my doorstep on Halloween is there just to get a stale Tootsie Roll.


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Stacy Dymalski is an award winning keynote speaker and stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.

For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her hilarious book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in paperback and on Kindle on Amazon.com.