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Take a deep breath. Blow it out. Good. Now take another.
That’s what I’ve been doing since returning from trick or treating: reminding myself to live in the moment and breathe. It’s remarkably hard to make myself do this – I tend to get caught up in the details when I ought to be focusing on the big picture.
Last night, instead of enjoying what is likely to be my last trick or treating adventure with Large (he’ll be choosing friends over family all too soon), I was obsessed with Small.
“Did you say, ‘Thank you’?”
“Slow down. Wait for the rest of our group!”
“Freeze means don’t move a muscle. It does not mean walk slower!”
“Stay on the sidewalk!”
“You don’t always have to be first.”
“Wait for your cousins!”
“Have we lost your sister?”
“I didn’t hear a ‘Thank you.'”
I was already teetering on the brink of sanity by the time Large tattled on Small: “Mom, Henry got a granola bar at that house and he said, ‘What the heck is this?’ instead of, you know, ‘Thanks.'”
When the kindling is dry, it doesn’t take much.
I pulled Small aside and scolded him. He was sullen, as most people are in the face of direct criticism and a strongly worded reprimand. I kept him back from two houses and under the pressure of my scowl, he promised to do better.
He’s excited, I told myself as he ran off. Don’t ruin his Halloween.
He bounced back, remembering to thank a whopping 60% of the candy distributors at the rest of the houses we hit and refraining from running over his younger cousins. But I didn’t. My grump cloaked me as thoroughly as Medium’s vampire cape. I couldn’t wait to get home.
My heart hurts at my own idiocy. Why do I let the little things bother me so much? Why can’t I enjoy the moment more?
I’ve got a year to redeem myself. You’ll remind me, won’t you?
Our family’s been hit with the viral swine but we seem to be on the mend. Even if it’s the calm before the storm, I’ll take it. I need a breather. Medium missed trick or treating this year–her fever was too high for comfort. She was stalwart about her infirmity, however, and solemnly tracked her brothers’ progress from her perch next to the window until they were swallowed up by the night.
When the boys returned, they were generous with their sister, voluntarily spilling their loot onto the floor and divvying it into thirds. Their shared ebullience recalled the last candy-soaked holiday.
It was Easter Sunday. After being hounded most of the afternoon, I relented. “Go ahead. Eat as much chocolate as you want.” Four pairs of eyes stared at me incredulously. Three pairs gleamed with what seemed close to religious fervor. “YOU get to put them to bed tonight,” was my sage husband’s only comment.
Two seconds later, all three kids were in the midst of gorging themselves with Easter basket bounty at the counter. Two minutes later, I overheard Nora say to Henry, “I think he’s sad that he’s eating a bunny.” I looked up from my book. Liam was absent.
By now, many of you know that we are a carnivorous family. Liam’s favorite foods are bacon, hamburgers and more bacon. Last fall, he was thrilled to try venison. So this was a new one. I flashed back to my youth; the echoes of an apology whispered into a chocolate ear lapped at my memory. I asked Liam to sit with me.
“Are you okay?”
“Did you feel a little funny about eating the rabbit?”
Embarrassed, Liam looked away. “Yeah,” he mumbled.
I looked over at the counter where contented gnawing continued unabated and then back at my sensitive son. “Don’t worry about it, buddy. They aren’t real. You don’t have to feel bad about eating them but I understand if you still feel that way.”
He gave a sigh and hugged me tightly.
My not-yet-five year old daughter caught my eye over his shoulder and smiled. She raised the bunny to her mouth, paused, and took a dainty little bite. “EEEP!” she said quietly. “Eeeeep, oh eeeep.” She shook her head and chuckled.
“She’s mocking me!” Liam was indignant.
I was laughing too hard to comfort him. That’s my girl.