7:24am. My alarm clock takes a second stab at jump-starting my heart, after the 7:14 call didn’t take. I roll over and find my 5-year-old son standing over my bed, silently watching.
It’s October 31. Halloween. The wife under the covers shows no sign of life. I’m thinking: this is that scene in every horror movie, right before the devil zombie child consumes its parents or starts to levitate and curse in Latin.
How long have you been standing there, I ask. Or did I just think it and not actually say it?
“I want to hang out with you guys for a while,” he says. Then he climbs into bed.
But I’m already out of bed, and I’m getting dressed and getting breakfast and getting ready for another eight hours at the office. There’s never time to live in the moment. That’s the trouble with earning a living.
Later, when the family picks me up from work, I find that my son has been replaced by a ninja turtle. My wife’s nostalgia for TMNT has rubbed off on him. But that’s not the only thing that’s rubbing off. He’s already losing the face makeup from touching it too much. He just wants to play with his friends, but we’re forcing him to participate in this inexplicable ritual where parents send their kids door-to-door like beggars to guilt strangers into giving them candy.
Widget1 doesn’t quite have the hang of it yet. The wife explains, “Just knock on the door, say trick-or-treat, then say thank you and goodbye.” But he keeps forgetting to say thank you. Then he starts asking for his preferred candies. One woman is actually guilted into going back into her house and looking for more chocolate after he gives her initial offering a less than enthusiastic reception. At another house, he won’t even go to the door. Then he tries to give me his candy bag. He doesn’t want to carry it anymore. It’s too heavy, he says. Yes, I am a slave drivers, forcing our child to carry candy around the neighborhood. I mean, it’s got to weigh at least…a tenth of a pound? THAT’S INSANE!
Half-way through the walk, he’s complaining he doesn’t want to trick-or-treat anymore. He just wants to play in the bounce house down the road. Going to the bounce house means having to make small talk with the nice neighbors who are offering the free entertainment. I say hi and introduce myself. And then they keep talking. And asking questions. And trying too hard to be my friend. It all just doesn’t feel right.
Then as we’re trying to leave, it happens. “Are you attending a church?”
Lightbulb! Now I know where this is headed. The awkward small talk was just a precursor to an awkward evangelism attempt.
I tell them the church we attend. They hand me a business card for a place called The Vine. They seem like nice people, but I hate feeling like everyone is always trying to sell me something – but I work in marketing, so I guess I deserve it.
Ah, the sacrifices we make for our zombie children.