Autumn is my favorite season. I love the leaves, the way the light looks golden, the crisp mornings. I have fond memories of being a little kid and tromping around the neighborhood with Mom or Dad on Halloween night, in a costume Mom usually made (except the year I begged to be B-list cartoon star Lady Lovelylocks and they caved, shelling out probably far too much for a plastic tie-over-your-clothes bib dress and garish mask that somehow didn't scare the crap out of my little brother), getting far too much candy and talking to the neighbors.
Needless to say, having little kids has brought out the Halloween excitement in me. I have three girls who can all walk, and my mind was running rampant with various "theme" costume ideas. Two years ago Mary and Anna were Glinda and Dorothy and they were so cute. This year my ideas ranged from the funny (rock, paper, scissors) to the uber-nerdy (five of us, five original alien races from Stargate!) to the adorable (Busytown Mysteries featuring Lily as Lowly!). Then I remembered I had this cute plush chicken costume that Mary wore when she was Lily's age, and started planning a farm theme. I had visions of Mary as a cute little farm girl riding her bike "tractor" around the block, Anna as a cute pink pig or a pony.
I approached the kids.
"So Halloween is coming," I started.
"I'm going to be a PINK FAIRY!" Mary yelled excitedly.
"I wanna be a blue puppy with floppy ears," Anna said. Lily started, mute.
"Really?" I said. "What about-"
"And my fairy will have GLITTERY WINGS, and SHOES, and-"
"My puppy will be soft," Anna smiled.
I gave up. I enlisted some costuming help from my mother in law and consoled myself with the idea that there's always next year, since Lily probably won't be awake for trick or treating anyway this time around.
Weeks passed and the girls started reading Trick or Treat and Halloween themed books in their respective schools. Mary reminded me of the importance of bringing a flashlight and only visiting houses we knew. Anna reminded me about candy. A lot.
Tim and I were sitting on the couch, fall scented candles burning, when I realized that only one of us could take the girls. Someone had to be home to pass out candy. And I knew which job both of us wanted.
"Girls," I said, "who is going to go with you trick or treating?"
"Mary," said Anna.
"Anna and Lily," said Mary.
"No, I mean, Mommy or Daddy?"
"Daddy!" said Mary.
"Mommy," said Anna. Across the couch I saw Tim's gaze drop in disappointment. I knew he'd give in. I also knew his childhood featured fond memories of the neighborhood fathers bringing scads of kids up and down the street (and can neither confirm nor deny that beer may have been involved on the parental side).
"Which do you want?" he asked me.
"You take them," I said. "I'll hand out the candy." He brightened.
"Okay, Daddy," Anna said.
"Yay!" Mary exclaimed. Then she sobered up.
"Daddy," she said very seriously, "I know it's your first day. But don't worry. I'll help you know what to do."
I certainly hope he's up to it.