The worst Halloween ever (or, the night a girl and her mom stole my candy)

When I was 5, my parents took me trick-or-treating. It was drizzling, and I had a nasty cold, but I didn’t want to miss Halloween.

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Florida Memory/public domain

I don’t remember my costume, but I remember my bag. It was a paper, with paper-cord handles. This is important. It was a paper bag.

I got a lot of candy, but there were a few duds. One woman was giving out pieces of popcorn — loose, not bagged, just reaching in a bowl and dropping a few into the paper bag — and there was a doctor up the street who gave out pennies.

So, there I am, sick, sniffling, coughing, with a slight fever, walking down the street in a drizzling rain, and I say, “Mom, my bag feels lighter.”

She says, “Oh, you’re just getting used to the weight.”

I stop and look at my bag and say, “No, it broke!”

The bottom had dropped out of my damp paper sack, and all my candy had fallen out.

We looked up the sidewalk and there, maybe 20 feet behind us, a girl and her mother were scooping up my candy and putting it in the girl’s bag.

I looked at Mom. She looked at the girl and mother stealing my candy and sighed. “OK,” she said. “Let’s go to a few more houses, then.”

We did, but we’d already hit most of the houses on the street, and I didn’t get enough candy to make up for the candy the girl and her mother stole.

A few years ago, my parents and I were talking about the kids’ costumes and about Halloween when I was a kid — like the time our neighbor’s big black dog chased me down the street, or the many times teenagers blew up our pumpkins with M-80s — and I asked Mom why she hadn’t tried to stop the woman from taking the candy.

Mom said she knew the woman, or knew of her. I’m from a really small town in eastern Kentucky where everybody knows everybody else, including their family histories and their family’s criminal history. “That woman was mean,” my mom said.

I understood. It would be a waste of time to get into an argument with an idiot over a couple bucks worth of chocolate. I imagine she would have claimed it was hers under the widely held legal principle of “finders keepers.”

So, this Halloween I’ll carve a pumpkin (yuck) and take the kids out trick-or-treating and, because they asked, I’ll wear a costume — Indiana Jones, because I have a jacket and a hat that would work — and if I see a kid spill some candy on the sidewalk, you can bet Things 1 and 2 and I will help him pick it up.

I should remember to forget my camera more often

Yesterday was Parents’ Day at our daughter’s YMCA day camp. Usually, she takes the camp bus, but I drove her, and we went canoeing.

It was a cool, sunny morning. The camp is next to a lake, and there were probably 100 other parents on the beach, noshing on bagels and pastries and waiting with their kids for a turn on the water.

While we stood barefoot in the sand, my 11-year-old pointed out girls she knew, and I thought: I forgot my camera.

It was a bad feeling. I thought, here we are, having this little adventure, and we won’t have any pictures.

Then, I remembered something I’d told my mom years ago, when Thing 1 was a baby and Mom wouldn’t stop taking pictures of her:

This isn’t a photo-op. Put down the camera and just enjoy yourself.

If our house was on fire, and I could save one thing, I’d save our pictures and videos. I forget how fast our kids are growing up until I see an old picture, or not even one that’s particularly old. Pictures from last summer or even Christmas remind me how much they’ve changed.

There aren’t any pictures to prove it, but we had a good time. We were on the water for maybe 5 minutes. Thing 1 insisted on steering. We made a wide circle and, miraculously, didn’t capsize or crash into any other parents. When it was over, I gave her a quick hug and kiss — nothing too embarrassing — and went to work.

Walking back to the car, I thought, I should remember to forget my camera more often.

A quick lesson in sportsmanship

Photo by Skoch3 via Wikipedia

Thing 2 (the 5-year-old) is playing coach-pitch baseball.

This is where the coach pitches, and after 5, 6 or 7 strikes (the rules aren’t fixed), the batter uses a tee. They play 3 innings. No one is ever called out, and an inning lasts until everyone hits the ball and circles the bases. They don’t keep score, but if they did, each side’s score would be the number of players who showed up, multiplied by 3. It’s a practice league. They’re learning the fundamentals, and that’s about it.

Thing 2, though, has also learned something about sportsmanship.

Max Patkin

He was playing 2nd base the other night, and he didn’t have a lot to do besides watch the game and think of funny ways to wear his baseball cap (he settled on wearing it sideways, kind of like Max Patkin).

Midway through the 2nd inning, Thing 2 started high-fiving the kids on the other team as they jogged from 1st to 2nd.

He didn’t care that the kids were on the other team, and he didn’t care that they might be “winning.” He knows how hard it is to hit the ball, and he thought he ought to congratulate them for doing it.

I know he’ll eventually outgrow that kind of enthusiasm, but I kind of hope he doesn’t.