Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Haunted Halloween

Oh, goody! Riley won. A fish. Great.
At the Boys & Girls Club Halloween party, Riley won a fish. I'd squeaked by this once before a few years ago at the school fair. They'd run out of live fish and were giving out coupons to go to the store to redeem for the fish (again, Riley was the winner). I told the girls we couldn't get it because of our cat, and then something shiny caught their attention and the fish was forgotten.
Last week, Riley was handed a fish in a bag. Wonderful.
It's Halloween! I'm supposed to go buy a fish bowl, fish food, figure out where to put this fish sometime between dinner, trick-or-treating and celebrating Sylvia's birthday? And then there was the issue of me being broke. Not happening.
Riley actually took it well, the dear girl. But while I was explaining the myriad of reasons why this fish would be happier somewhere else, Sylvia was trying her luck at the same booth. She comes up to us, crying hysterically that she didn't win, and when she heard Riley had given her fish back, somehow manages to find the strength and tears to cry even harder. On her birthday. In the middle of a gymnasium where the sounds of children shouting, music blasting and the feet pounding echo all around.
Then, today, I read a post in a forum about a woman who was WAY nicer than me and had let her child keep the prized fish. She even went and bought another fish to keep it company. Then that fish died. Now she's trying to figure out whether or not to buy yet another fish.
Why, oh why, do these places insist on giving our children these fish, and torturing us parents with these type of dilemmas?
Riley saw Sylvia crying, and then went off on me for making Sylvia cry on her birthday. Still in the middle of said oh-so-quiet gymnasium. GET ME OUT OF HERE!!! So I said, that's it. We're going home.
Sylvia went off to get her stuff, and Riley tried to run away to another booth. I go after Riley, Sylvia comes back, and starts crying again because I'm not still in the exact position I was when she'd left. She now thinks I abandoned her on her birthday.
Halloween has turned me into the Wicked Witch of the West.
I manage to pull it together enough to take a good long look at my just-turned-10-year-old. The cacophony of sounds still around me, it hits me the type of day she's had.
We had awakened early so that Sylvia would have time to open her presents before school. Then there was the excitement of getting dressed up in costume. Then, of course, going to school and seeing everyone else's costumes. Plus, as an Ambassador at KIPP, she had an interview with a local radio station. They ended instruction a couple of hours early to have a Halloween party. Once that was over, it was off to the Boys & Girls Club for their party. And I never had the stomach to ask just how much sugar she'd consumed thus far.
I came down to her level and said, "you're just overwhelmed right now, aren't you? This has been a very big day." She starts crying fresh, stammering "yyyessss" and bawling all over again. I held her as she sobbed and said, "let's get out of here." She nodded, sharing my sensory overload.
Prior to her birth 10 years ago, Halloween had never been a favorite holiday of mine. This year reminded me of all the reasons why.
Once we left the madness of the gymnasium, Sylvia calmed down almost immediately and was quick to tell me I was right about the fish. Thank goodness for small favors!

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