Today is my Birthday. I'm starting out the day on the couch with the kids - trying to decide what to make for breakfast - wishing I'd pulled some bacon out to thaw yesterday. I have big plans (for me and for a Monday - I get out of the house about once every other week without kids and usually it is to go to the supermarket for some solo grocery shopping). I'm going to my first yoga class since last winter, followed by lunch with a girlfriend, (we are going to a sushi restaurant that I just discovered this weekend with D, and haven't stopped thinking about since). Gonna follow that up with a bit of fun shopping- birthday money- clothes for myself. This evening we are heading out to my folks for local steaks, non-local green salad and wine. The kids will have a blast running around at my folks and fall asleep on the way home, which should leave a little time at the end of the night for some couch- movie time with me hubby. I do like Birthdays. I like to focus on celebrating our lives and accomplishments rather than focusing on being a year older and whatever age we are turning. That being said, I am thirty-one today...and at one point in my life I thought that twenty-one was going to be the climax of my life, ha ha.
We had a fun filled weekend already, so it feels like the party is never ending. This past weekend has been in the making for a few weeks now, and not because we are big on Halloween. We have some close friends that had suggested we take turns watching our kids this weekend as they wanted to go out together, and D and I have been wanting to go out together, it kind of just worked out that it was Halloween weekend - not the most romantic weekend to go out. So on Friday night we watched their daughter, who is three, and gets along really well with the kids, I was surprised at how great she did, spending the night away from her home and folks. Saturday we had kid parties all day. Then that night our friends came over and watched our kids and spent the night here so we could go out to dinner and to "our" bar (where all of our close friend were, either working or having a good time). I enjoyed seeing everyone dressed up, it was more entertaining than I thought. We were some of the only couples not dressed up, but everyone was excited to see us out together that we were easily forgiven.
Halloween is a tricky Holiday for me when it comes to the kids and what we tell them. For the most part the kids are still in the dark about what goes on, they don't know about trick or treating yet. They do know that people celebrate by dressing up for fun. I try to protect them from scary things, or subjects that are challenging to explain, how to explain where witches and ghosts come from, and why people use these images to celebrate this day. I think dressing up year round is a fun thing for small children, so we were all about stalking up on some costumes. Avery got a bee outfit, a ballerina and a fairy costume. Noah has a knight outfit, a pirate and a dragon costume. They have been having fun dressing up for a couple weeks now. We went to two kid parties, and both I regarded as appropriate for small children; homemade food: pumpkin soup, sandwiches, fruit salad, cake decorated with raspberries, pumpkin muffins, (no food coloring - no candy). The kids don't know to expect candy yet, and why should they when they are excited about fruit leather, pomegranate seeds and clementines.
Both parties were decorated with cob webs which Noah asked about. I tried to explain how some people like to decorate with scary things and they think of old houses as scary-and old houses have cobwebs. Earlier in the week we talked a little about All Hallows Eve and All Saints Day, and the history behind the two Holidays, but drawing the connection between that and all the gore, vampires and blood and ghosts we see today is a stretch. I don't think Noah gets it, or is impressed at all. There was a kid dressed as a ghost, and one as a vampire, but Noah didn't ask about what they were suppose to be. I think he thought his costume was way better, after all he had a sword (knight). How do you explain ghosts and witches to a four year old. We stay away from scary stories, scary movies. I don't want them worrying about death, or monsters, or having bad dreams.
My children are fairly well grounded in reality. When they ask me questions, I try to give them honest but simple answers. My son asked me why I don't like witches. I told him that by dressing up we kind of glorify them, or make them something to joke about, or feel comfortable with, and that is not ok. We talked a little about the history of witches, and how some people don't think they exist and that is probably why they can joke about them. We talked about herbalists and healers being called witches. I left out the dark magic, and burning and drowning people thought to be witches. I tried to leave him with the idea that I didn't think they were appropriate for kids, just as I don't think anything scary is, and they also are not something to be played with or pretended about because we shouldn't feel comfortable with them.
Last year the topic of ghosts came up. An adult was surprised that my son did not know about ghosts. What I had a hard time explaining was that telling my three year old that ghosts are white blobs that say "boo!", is not going to cut it. Broaching the subject of ghosts demands a much more thorough explanation, that I don't think a small child is ready for. We have talked about death and what different people believe. Noah knows that some people believe that when our bodies die we are buried and we provide nutrients for animals and plants and continue the cycle of life. Many people believe that we leave our bodies behind, and our spirits go to heaven, and we've talked about heaven. And some people believe that we are reborn as other animals or people. I told Noah that some people believe that ghosts are people's spirits that are here without their bodies, but I didn't say that they are something to be feared. He had asked about ghosts last Halloween, and hasn't brought it up since so I don't know if he even remembers. I don't remember the conversation leaving much of an impression on him. I tried to state things very matter of factly, and not make it into a big deal.
I want my kids to know all the facts, to know what different people believe. I want them to feel comfortable with the natural cycle of life and death. I take the spiritual and supernatural world seriously, and I want the kids to drive that area of learning and those conversations when they are ready. Halloween is very much in our face. It is pretty much inescapable. I think we made it through this Halloween fairly well. We should be able to celebrate whichever aspect of a Holiday we deem appropriate. Dressing up and being silly is about as much as my two and four year old need. Whew, it is going to be a lot simpler to talk about Christmas and the birth of Jesus.