Thursday, November 03, 2005

The scary week behind us

The preface
Am I too late? All in all, it's been a rough week, but there's pictures to share and stories to tell. The stories have lost their luster — some bits were drafted before our cat difficulties, other bits are abbreviated. Forgive the incoherence. I'm tired.

The carving
Carving a pumpkin sounds like a lot of fun. The reality of it is a lot of work and a big mess. Helena chooses the design from a few I'd sketched — happy and starry-eyed over fierce and scary. Her enthusiasm wanes after one handful of goopy innards. Mommy is left to clean and carve the husk on her own.

Still, Helena beams at the finished product, and delights in placing her painted baby pumpkin inside the hollowed gourd.

(Photo of lit jack'o'lantern not taken. And now it's mouldy — no way I'm sticking my hand in there.)

A party
Saturday afternoon is the 3rd birthday party of one of Helena's classmates. Fun is had by all, including me. I entertain several catty thoughts about other parents, their parenting philosophies, and their children, but they have since all dissipated.

But I'm still in shock over how many toys and movies Rose has. No musical instruments though, which may explain why the keyboard we gave her was such a hit.

In the end, I was truly warmed by the birthday girl's delight in it all. And Helena's.

A nap

The sickness
J-F's mom and her de facto come for supper that evening. She insists on bringing the meal. I'm not quite sure what to make of this habit of hers, but I've come to accept it, so I'm slightly disappointed when she brings ingredients for me to assemble.

I awake Sunday to a screaming pain in my head, as if some clawed creature has hatched behind my eyes and is trying to scratch its way out. I throw up a few times and sleep. (In retrospect, I think I vomited from migraine-pain nausea, rather than anything gostrointestinally induced, though my body continues to complain of flu-like ache.) I drag myself out of bed to make Helena's hat a little more blue, and ensure her "robe" is cut and stitched to bear some semblance of sleeves.

The hat
Of which I am proud.

I give Helena the choice of donning her costume at home or putting it on at the daycare centre. She opts for the latter, but when the time comes, she is having none of it. She even tears off her turtleneck. I leave her whipping around in a spare t-shirt. I can only hope her mood improves in time for the kids' Halloween morning parade through the local shops and offices.

I have time for a coffee and a good long cry. I'd always thought the fun in dressing up came from the pride of conceptualizing something unique, being able to execute it oneself. But I may be wrong about this. I felt such embarassment trying to costume Helena that morning — her outfit looked so shabby beside the store-bought disguises of her classmates.

On top of which, it would seem that no one is familiar with Mickey Mouse's Sorceror's Apprentice. Lesson learned: never dress a child of limited communication skills in a costume that needs explaining. Even when it's of her own devising.


J-F and I rendezvous to see our daughter costumed — sans red cowl and white gloves, and hat backwards, but smiling and calm.

Worse tricks
When we get home, the cat, not well for a few days already, seems rather worse. A trip to the vet. We leave the cat there for x-rays. Pick up Helena. J-F will go to the follow-up appointment by himself.

Unless Helena absolutely insists, there will be no trick-or-treating. Fortunately, she had her fill that morning, and her pumpkin is already full.

On the phone with my mother, I start crying over the cat's likely fate. Helena notices. "Tue es sad?" She gives me a hug and makes faces.

J-F returns, without the cat, as we're preparing for bed. Helena asks where the cat is, and my instinct, before I know, but I already know, is to tell her the cat's staying with the doctor, because we can't take care of her properly at home. We save that conversation for the next day.

Additional treats
Although there is an elementary school at the end of our block, our stretch of street features mostly the backs of houses, so we had no ghoulish visitors. More candy for us.

Helena and I had spent our evening playing with face makeup crayons. That morning I had painted her a smile, a nose, some whiskers, to enhance the illusion (even though Mickey Mouse has no whiskers), but they were long gone.

Helena puts a spider on my left cheek. On the right, she paints a portrait of Blue's Clues' Joe (?!). For the record, in this photo, I am ghastly tired and not wearing my glasses, but I am sticking out my tongue (not shown).

For "dessert" this week, every day I let Helena choose two things from her basket. She tastes them and almost always sets them aside. We have learned that Helena does not like KitKat or Coffee Crisp (yay for me! except when she licks the chocolate off first). Nor does she like peanut butter. We knew this, but thought the candy bar factor might sway her. It has not (yay for J-F!). She likes only the outside of Tootsie Roll Pops. She does not like anything sour. She likes wine-gum-type candies, but, inexplicably, not red ones.

We all love Smarties, and we're learning to share.


Suzanne said...

Our first Isabella photo? Nice to "see" you!

Diana said...

I have time for a coffee and a good long cry. I'd always thought the fun in dressing up came from the pride of conceptualizing something unique, being able to execute it oneself. But I may be wrong about this. I felt such embarassment trying to costume Helena that morning — her outfit looked so shabby beside the store-bought disguises of her classmates.

I can so relate to this. My daughter is very artistic and loves to make things. For the first several years of school I encouraged her to make her own valentines for her classmates. She was the only one who ever did that. All the others were the icky store-bought kind. When she got her first wrinkled nose and snide remark about her gluey, lumpy valentines (this was 2nd grade), I had my good cry and the following year she brought the store-brought ones. My ideals and pride in her uniqueness had to give way to my concerns about she was treated by her peers. It's sad.

Then when my son was in first grade we had been listening to Huckleberry Finn read on tape and he was caught up in it. He dressed as Huck Finn for Halloween and he was so disappointed that not only did his classmates not know who he was, several adults didn't, either.

I just have this feeling that you're going to have many of these disillusioning moments as Helena grows up. Popular culture really dominates children's worlds and it's hard to fight that.

rachel said...

If it's any consolation, Isa, I cried about B's costume this year too. When he was first screaming bloody murder whenever we put the cape on him, and Scott (who sometimes does NOT have a way with words) proclaimed "Halloween is going to SUCK!" Gee, thanks, buddy! And I cried because I had spent more time and energy than I should have,and got shrieks in return.

Diana's comments gave me a chill -- I was always the kid with the homemade Valentines and costume, and I got a lot of grief for it. As a child I wished I could be like everyone else (why couldn't I? It seems like it should have been simple...); as an adult, I'm damn proud that I'm not. I am torn between wanting to save my child that grief, and wanting to make sure he's as unique and individual as he's capable of being. I don't know how one balances that.

Lizzie said...

Oh boy, homemade Halloween I have stories...nobody knows the trouble I've caused...errr....seen.

One incident that stands out: one year when Ian and Kristen (who are now 28 and 25, believe it or not...) were just this side of being little tots, I decided that I couldn't bear to see them in the cheesy Woolco (it WAS Woolco then, remember?) costumes but I wasn't really very talented with a needle and thread. So I improvised.

I bought them the rubber masks from Woolco (probably) but instead of clever capes, I ensconsed them in, are you ready? Garbage bags!

Hey, they seemed really cool and slippery and scary and shiny and black and...humiliating for my children who had to take their rubber masks and garbage bags to school for dress up and be laughed at...but hey, I was original...

Yeah, original all right. Me and Idi Amin.