Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Love and candy

This was Pete's first real Hallowe'en--the first time he was able
to anticipate the event, to know what he was going to be, to leave the

He was Tigger. We got a great costume from a consignment store in
Davenport. Pete loved the idea and had been willing to roar and bounce
for weeks. When I picked him up from school yesterday, he was all set
to get into the holiday mood.

Then, a setback. We wanted to have a quick dinner before heading
out, but Pete was unwilling to eat. This would be normal for many
preschoolers, but it's very strange for him. It was the first sign
that he was uncertain about the whole business. But all went well when
first trick-or-treater--the older daughter of the family next
door--arrived at our house dressed as Carmen (as in Bizet). Pete came
with us to talk to her and seemed to like doing so.

Then, a big setback. The younger neighbor girl, Ryn, arrived in a
ghost mask. Nothing fancy, but Pete was truly spooked. He hopped into
my arms and hung on HARD. Fortunately, Ryn is very sweet and was in no
hurry, so she stayed for a few minutes, mask off, and talked to Pete.
Pete seemed able to separate his fear of the mask from his affection
for Ryn--he cheerfully waved and said, "Bye, Ryn!" between
bouts of cowering--but he wasn't getting over the fright anytime soon.

Back to dinner, with Pete now uncertain about the whole costume
business. The highlight of this time was not directly Hallowe'eny.
Pete and I were sitting at the table.

Pete: Mama's a sgurrial.
Erik: Mama's a squirrel?
Pete: Mama's a guirrel.
Erik: Mama's a girl?
Pete: Uh-huh! I love girls!

This is an instance of Pete's very recent tendency to declare his
loves. As far as I know, the first such declaration came last weekend
in Kansas City, during one of Pete's rare exposure's to cable TV--in
this case, the Food Network.

Pete: What's her name?
Erik, seeing Rachel Ray on the screen: That's Rachel.
Pete: I love her!

Talk about screen presence. No wonder Rachel Ray is a very wealthy

Anyway, we eventually coaxed Pete into the Tigger costume because
his fear of other costumes was temporarily conquered by his hope that
he himself would be scary.

We went around the neighborhood trick-or-treating, a process that
consisted mostly of our carrying a mildly anxious Pete to the doors of
people we knew. Another child in a mask caused another mild panic, but
everything went pretty well overall, and Pete gained confidence as he
went along. At most places, he was willing to bounce (like Tigger) or
roar or say "trick or treat"--sometimes before, sometimes
after lunging for the candy bowl. He did pretty well with saying thank
you and being generally sweet.

After trick-or-treating, it was clear that we had to work through
the frights. Pete talked about the scary masks many times, and then,
in his bath, he pretended to put on a scary mask himself. We would act
properly scared, then he would take it off, and we would express our
relief that the scary creature was just Pete. He repeated this perhaps
a dozen times.

By morning, however, the masks had largely faded from memory. Pete
is now, emphatically, all about the candy.

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