Rain, rain, Trick-or-Treat, and rain

Last year we had light snow for Trick-or-Treating. This year, it rained, not so lightly. Less cold; more wet. But Halloween is not for the faint of heart, nor the dry of clothes, so we took it as it came.

This year, we had a large group to Trick-or-Treat, including other parents to manage the marauding hordes. My wife, who is in charge of manning the home base, handing out candy, and pouring the wine, asked me to heat up some cider in a crock pot before our crew set out foraging. It was a good idea. A warm beverage would hit the spot when we got back from our raiding in the rain.

Big Man got just a taste of Trick-or-Treating before the weather encouraged me to take him home. Buster, and most of the other kids, got a moderate dose of Halloween and a moderate dose of wet before they, influenced heavily by parents, called it a night.

Big Brother, two of his friends, myself, and another father got good and wet, as we went back out to brave the storm after dropping the others off at home.

I'll always remember you this way, Batman: when you were still warm and dry.

I’ll always remember you this way, Batman: when you were still warm and dry.

Those last three kids will always remember this as the Halloween everybody stepped in a mud puddle. Nobody stepped in the same mud puddle, and some of us stepped in multiple puddles. None of our costumes included waterproof footwear.

A surprising number of people were out, considering the weather. Most had umbrellas, devices we rarely use and have never considered on Halloween. I began seeing more and more adults carrying paper coffee cups. It was like there was a Starbucks in the middle of our neighborhood suddenly.

The kids wanted to keep going; I couldn’t stop them, because, soaked as I was, I admired their tenacity. A little rain on their heads wasn’t going to stop them. A lot of rain on their candy might, though. Only when they noticed their candy getting wet did they entertain ideas of going home. Wet, cold skin is one thing, but children must keep their candy safe.

Eventually they agreed it would be irresponsible to risk the candy they already had to get a little more. We made our way home, not overlooking lit up houses on the way.

We got home, chilled and wet, but deserving the candy we’d collected, and most certainly a hot cup of cider. I went to the crock pot. Empty.

“Where did all the cider go?”

“Oh,” my wife replied. “I’ve been giving it out to the parents of Trick-or-Treaters.”

Welcome to the community Starbucks.

“People really liked it,” she added to sooth my disappointment. “One lady took five cups.” I wasn’t as soothed as she thought I’d be by the success of her Halloween largess. “We’ve got more cold cider in the fridge,” she concluded.

We poured more into the crock pot. While we waited, the other cold dad and I enjoyed a glass of scotch. That was better than crying over the spilled milk of human kindness.

Who invited Batman?

For his birthday, Buster wanted a Batman-themed party. The great thing about three-year-olds’ parties is you don’t have to rent out a hall to satisfy them. As long as you have cupcakes, pizza, and few of his closest friends, you can spend two hours in your own living room, hosting the best party he’s ever had.

The great thing about three-year-olds is that their closest friends are whichever few kids they happen to be playing with. There’s no need to look up his old army buddies.

Batman cupcakes and a few Batman party favors meant this party was about 10% of the cost of the party he’ll require in three years. With some of the windfall savings, my wife picked up an adult Batman costume, because what little kid wouldn’t love a surprise visit from a masked man?

I am Batman cupcakes

I would have preferred chocolate cupcakes with whipped frosting, but after my wife pointed out that they weren’t for me, I gave her a classic Batman “whatever” shrug.

She wanted someone none of the children would recognize to wear the costume. It’s not as easy as you might think to get an affirmative reply to, “Hey, how would you like to show up to a children’s party in a Batman outfit this Saturday?”

As Saturday neared, she got more desperate. I think she was hoping the UPS guy would deliver something so she could sound him out about whether he liked playing make-believe. But since we didn’t have any mail order scotch in transit, the UPS guy didn’t show. I convinced her I should be Batman. Yes, I’d be recognized, but the boys would always remember the time Daddy played Batman for them.

I don’t know much about Batman, outside of the Adam West TV show. I can’t imagine how he changed into costume sliding down the pole to the Bat Cave because I had trouble getting into costume sitting on my bed. Batman’s outfit doubles as an evening gown, I discovered as I texted my wife to come zip me up.

The suit was designed for a pectorally endowed man. “You have concave nipples,” my wife informed me as I turned my rubber chest to her. A plump pillow fixed that.

I snuck out and rang the doorbell. My wife herded the children to the door and had Buster open it. I crossed the threshold; he hid behind his big brother. I knelt down to talk to him; he fled to the back room and closed the door.

And we were worried that I would just be Daddy in a cape.

Why can't you give Batman a chance?

Fear turns to contempt as Batman resorts to pleading.

I took some pictures with, and punches from, the other children, but Buster would not enter the same frame with me. I cut my losses and made my exit, reappearing as just Daddy.

They had cupcakes and Buster opened presents. That creepy Batman faded in memory.

After the party, I had some errands. “Okay, I’m leaving,” I announced, as a man does when he’s about to leave his wife alone with three sugar-laced children.

Buster looked up from his new toys. “Don’t go to Batman, Daddy,” he pleaded. “I don’t like it.”

Sometimes Daddy’s best as boring, safe, reliable Daddy.

Baby’s first television theme song

Our one-year-old loves music. He’ll ride in the car and sing along to the radio in his baby way. You can’t understand any of what he’s saying, but you get the idea that he’s attempting to express himself musically. To my 45-year-old ears, that makes it a lot like Hip-Hop.

Music has been useful in soothing both of our children. When he was a baby, the big boy used to respond well to the soulful blues of Luther Allison. Somehow, my wife supplanted Luther with Robin Thicke this time around. I’m not thrilled at this development, but if it keeps the baby happy, so be it. The Wiggles will probably take precedence over everything in a few months anyway.

Babies are geniuses at mimicry. This explains why the baby loves to sing. I mentioned previously that we have a new cuckoo clock. They baby loves to mimic this too. He points at the clock and says, “Uh-oh, uh-oh,” which is not exactly “cuc-koo, cuc-koo,” but he has the inflection down perfectly. The baby’s impersonation is that of a cuckoo who has spilled his juice all over the carpet precisely at two o’clock. “Uh-oh, uh-oh!”

Uh-oh, uh-oh.

“Oh no, I spilled my juice! By the way, it’s two o’clock, if anybody cares.”

Mimicking simple sounds is standard fare for babies. When they put enough sounds together, it can blow your mind. The other day, the baby was sitting on the floor playing with some toy, or maybe it was a strand of cat fur – who can tell with babies? What mattered was that he was quiet and content.

I was working on the computer. From somewhere behind me came the soft melody of the theme to the 1960s Batman TV show. I turned very slowly as my mind ruled out possible sources of this music: the TV was off; the big boy and his mother were out; the cuckoo only knows two notes, and he was nailed to the wall in the other room anyway; and the cat can’t carry a tune to save his life.

I steeled myself to face a cheesy-TV-show-loving housebreaker, but there was no one there. There was no one except an unusually self-contented 14-month-old. The baby looked up at me and crooned, “Soba soba soba soba sot, YAN YAN!”

Okay, the vocals weren’t all that discernible, but he’s a child of his musical era. The melody was dead on.

Batman gets his goat

Just imagine how many evil-doing goats he’d be able to apprehend, now that he has a baby brother to sing his theme song.

His big brother likes to watch old Batman reruns on Saturday nights, so it’s not a mystery where he got the tune. The thing that blew my mind was that we had missed the last couple of Saturdays. It had been nearly three weeks since we’d heard that theme. The baby sat on those notes all that time so he could pull them out of his diaper weeks later and give Daddy a good shock.

Since then, we constantly goad him into singing the Batman theme for the amusement and amazement of our friends and acquaintances, because, to the best of our knowledge, that’s how parents are supposed to garner attention by exploiting the talents of their children.

If you give a skunk a candy bar

My son wants to be a skunk for Halloween. He’s been fascinated with skunks for the past several months. Skunks are cool because they can spray animals and people who attack them, scold them for being naughty, or tell them it is time for bed. Getting sprayed by a skunk is nasty business; the animals that attack skunks, and the people who send them to bed, should learn to cease such provocative behaviors.

skunk in the wild

Nobody dares try to make this bad boy go to bed when he’s not even tired. That alone makes him the coolest animal in the world. (Image: C.J. Henry/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The only creature that could possibly be cooler than a skunk would an animal that carries a BB gun, or maybe one that holds down its adversaries and farts on them. It’s hard to get the better of a skunk. To a four-year-old, constrained by household rules and vulnerable to attack from monsters and other predators, the feisty little polecat is naturally an admirable animal. Skunks take guff from nobody.

The boy has made it clear that he wants his skunk costume to have spraying capabilities. He has discussed this with his mother already. She has provided numerous suggestions about how this effect could be engineered. The only thing she couldn’t tell me was how the skunk costume itself was to be produced. She thought she might leave that one, inconsequential detail to me.

Further to the logistics of a successful trick-or-treat, the boy wants to know who is going to say “Trick-or-Treat” when the neighbors answer their doors on Halloween, because it will not be him. “I’ll ring the doorbell,” he conceded, “but I’m not saying Trick-or-Treat.”

Last year, he went trick-or-treating with his friend. His friend was eager to say “Trick-or-Treat” at every house. This relieved my son of the burden of having to do it, while teaching him a dubious lesson. Now he knows that the kid next to the kid who says “Trick-or-Treat” gets just as much candy without doing any of the work. This is unless you count ringing the bell as work, which it isn’t, because they argued at every house over who got the ring the bell.

batman standing under giant cat

Last year it was Batman who wouldn’t say “Trick or Treat.” People gave him candy anyway, probably out of gratitude for his commitment to keeping the citizens safe from crime. That skunk had better start building up the good will pretty quickly.

This Halloween, if you open your door to find a mute, 44-inch-tall skunk standing next to the kid who says “Trick-or-Treat,” there are some things you might consider. First, stand back. We’re not yet sure of the direction in which the costume will spray. Nor can we tell precisely what it will spray. Secondly, don’t insist that this child say “Trick-or-Treat.” He’s a strong-willed skunk with a hair-trigger sprayer. It’s probably best if you don’t even make eye contact.

If you want to teach that little skunk a lesson about being a trick-or-treat freeloader, locate the bespectacled, balding man who is waiting for the children at the curb. Toss the skunk’s candy to him, because he likes candy too. Then, leap back into your home and slam the door shut, before anybody has time to line you up in their spray sights. That will teach that little skunk.