I like Halloween far more as an adult than I ever did as a child. At least that is how it feels now. Witnessing the excitement this year around casa Swanson has been a hoot. Not all easy though. Like I have mentioned before, holidays come with all sorts of novel stresses that our children experience differently. Then mix in a whole bunch of costumes and candy and…imagine.

On Friday, our little O had a mega-tantrum at the preschool parade. So loud, so ornery, so insistent that he never donned the costume and never got near walking in the parade. The tantrum ended only after arriving at home. I was feeling entirely terrible already as I was out of town and unable to make it to the parade, but when the husband called me at the airport and told me it was better that I wasn’t there after all, I felt even worse. The Mama-ache reached new heights. Although I mentioned that day one of preschool was a heroic moment, days 2 through 25 have been (typically) different.

Tantrums are wicked-scary-terribleness sometimes. The public grimaces, and then points and whispers and stares and judges. Our children’s friends and peers run the other way. And we parents look like out-of-control-bats. Tantrums can be very Halloween, actually. A post on the New York Times Motherlode blog yesterday couldn’t have come at a better time. Writer Jenny Anderson speaks to thinking of tantrums as signals of distress, not just flares of defiance. Her words and concept helped me. I usually work very hard to provide love and support (amidst ignoring them) when the tantrums come, but I still am longing for the perfect parenting response. The NYT post helped me find another reservoir of patience and insight I need. Focusing on nurturing self-regulation for our tantruming children makes a lot of sense. See my comment at the end of her post.

So we’ll see how Halloween goes tonight. I’ll be walking around with a rootbeer bottle and a fireman, a flashlight and reflectors, and my sweet husband. And I’ll be hoping that the wicked-scary-tantrums hide out. If they don’t, we’ll wait it out, like we always do, and welcome our sweet boy back when he returns from wicked-scary-Halloween.

A note about Halloween safety

  • On Halloween I worry most about injuries for children while walking around (getting hit by a car, tripping on a costume, or falling down), not razor blades in apples. Children are injured more as pedestrians on Halloween than from anything else. When you set out with (or without) your children tonight, think about maximizing their safety on the sidewalk, amidst their costume, and on the street. Remind your kids never to believe that they are the right of way on the street. Yielding has great power and protection.
  • Read this AAP list for Halloween safety or watch this video by Dr Tony Woodward (an ER doctor) for more.