Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Tale of the Lame Fairy, Bouncing Ballerina, Timid Princess, and Greedy Tiger

Why do I feel compelled to dress my children in costumes and drag them around the block, collecting bags of candy, each fall. Is it just that it's a cultural norm? Is it because they look so cute in those costumes? Is it because I have happy memories of dressing up and hording candy as a child? Is it because the neighbors invited us to go with them, and my children and Matt and I all need the socialization? Or is it that I feel my children are already deprived of so much that is "normal" in childhood because of their health conditions, so I want to give them any of the experiences that their peers have if I possibly can. They do need to have happy memories of more than doctors and ultrasounds and biopsies. Or maybe I just like raiding the candy stash afterward.

I do not like the roots of the "Halloween" celebration. I do not agree with the celebration of that which is evil, grotesque, and morbid, but I know that for the vast majority of families out there it is simply a night to dress children in cute costumes and hand out candy. So, probably for some combination of the above reasons, I spent yesterday helping the girls go through our dress-up clothes and pick out suitable costumes. We enjoyed a dinner with the neighbors (with our own gluten-free food of course) then began pulling on layers of tights and shirts and sparkly skirts. Just after 5:00 we headed down the street in the amazingly mild fall sunshine.

Our neighborhood must be the favored trick-or-treating neighborhood for the entire county. The streets were filled with a menagerie of ballerinas and lady-bugs, goblins and ghouls, all frantically hurrying from house to house. The neighbor kids we were following were older and faster than mine. Naomi and Hannah ran after them giggling, but Emma resisted being rushed, and Toby had much more to explore than the next house's front-door. Matt carried Toby from house to house as I pulled Emma's arm. She stared wide-eyed at the freakish faces passing us, and whined at having to walk so quickly.

"Now just take one,"a kind, naive lady sweetly advised Toby, holding out a large bowl of candy. Toby took one, placed it in his bag, then took another and reached for a third. "Mommy," Naomi whined, half-way down our street, "my knee's hurting. Can you carry me?" Most of Naomi's joint pain has vanished since going gluten-free, but it occasionally resurfaces, and it struck her nearly lame last night. I ended up carrying Toby and dragging Emma while Matt carried Naomi. "Why didn't we bring the wagon?" Matt called back to me over the crowd. "I don't know, remind me next year," I yelled back, nearly panting for breath. We decided that one trip up and down the street was more than enough this year.

Today I set up the "Candy Trade-in Shop" and went through all the kids' candy piece-by-piece, searching for gluten and dairy. Any piece found to contain gluten went into a pile to donate to Uncle Phil. Any piece containing dairy Naomi and Toby had to trade in, but Hannah and Emma could keep. I had a stash of gluten-free, dairy free candy that the kids chose from each time I confiscated one of their hard-earned treasures. In the end, each child has a Ziploc bag full diet-approved treats and, hopefully, a mind full of happy memories. They better.

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