Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween

Our first three kids were the happiest, lovingest, most outgoing balls of chubby sunshine you could ever hope to meet. Liz actually smiled SO much at people that we wondered if she was simple and didn't understand that she was supposed to play strange.

Eva hates everything.

When we had our fourth child, we assumed that she would be similar in temperament to the other three, as they, in turn, are similar in temperament to us.

Not so. When Eva was 4 months old, she realized that not everyone who was holding her was me. Being an equal opportunity hater, this gave everyone in our family and circle of friends who was NOT me an opportunity to not hold her when she cried. I got screwed in the deal, as, being me, I was the only person who could make her stop. I would have paid someone to be me, but no one wanted the job.

Eva was a stellar baby. From birth right up to the age of 4 months, she almost literally NEVER cried. We went an entire 10 day camping trip without hearing her cry (and not because we lost her). Then, suddenly, she realized what she had been missing.

To be fair, she had bowel issues. For some reason or another, Eva didn't poo. The turning point was that camping trip. In the same 10 days that she didn't cry, she also went 17 days without pooping. I don't know about you, but if I didn't poop for 2 weeks, I would start crying nonstop, too. The problem was, after 3 months dealing with her bowel issues, the nonstop crying had become a habit. Once the bowel issues were resolved, the crying continued.

Eventually, Eva decided to branch out. There are so many things in this life to hate, that to limit yourself to one or two seems like a waste. So from hating everyone who wasn't me, she moved on to hating all foods, toys, most clothing, diapers, and the outdoors.

We knew Halloween was going to be a challenge.

I run a dayhome, so I got to have a pre-trick-or-treat practice run. I got the other 4 kids in the dayhome dressed in their costumes in record time (including the 14 month old, who looked adorable in her kitty cat suit), and then I started with Eva.

Liz and I had picked out a bumblebee costume for her, with black bodysuit, tutu, antenna, buzzing wand, and wings. As I threw the black bodysuit onto her, the screeching started- Apparently, the feathery edging got in her mouth and bothered her. Note- wet it and smooth it down before we leave tonight. Check. The tutu was too stiff, so we rubbed it with a Bounce sheet and that seemed to solve the problem. Her wand annoyed her, so she threw it at her brother and we left it behind, and the antennae and fuzzy shoe decorations were, frankly, beyond my capabilities.

She screamed. The dayhome party started at 2, and from 1:45 till almost 2:30, while I got everyone else set up and organized, she screamed. She screamed so hard she forgot how to swallow her spit and it ran in rivers down the front of her outfit. She screamed at the other kids. She screamed at me. She sceamed until I took her out of the costume, sat her in her highchair, and gave her fruit snacks to keep her quiet. (Fruit snacks ALWAYS work. Something about the lack of any appreciable nutrient does that for a kid).

Jason walked in the door, and while I gave him a quick rundown of how this evening was going to go, we fed the kids a spinach salad to appease my guilt about all the candy they were about to consume. Jason distracted Eva with more fruit snacks while we got her dressed, and we were off. (After we mixed our 'coffee' in our travel mugs- we needed to fortify ourselves with liquor).

I don't even know if Squid knew Eva was upset. He was so wired at the THOUGHT of chocolate that we had to peel him off the ceiling just to get him out door. Even handing out the candy was an event to be written home about (Mom! WE just had TWO CUSTOMERS! And they were vampires! And I gave them Mars Bars AND Twixes!!!)

(Note to all those who came by our house while we were trick-or-treating: We save the real candy for when we're there to hand it out. If you leave a bag of chocolate outside while you're gone, with a sign that says 'Please Take One', they won't. Hence the crappy freezies. If you're super chuffed about it, stop by tomorrow. There may be some left. My 'coffee' is making me too sleepy to unwrap the Snickers.....)

We met some friends at the neighborhood hot dog & hot chocolate Halloween warmup before going trick or treating, and it seemed like we had it nailed. Eva was contented, ate her hotdog like a champ, and smiled at all the volunteers. We were so mistaken.

Turns out her main joy in trick-or-treating stems from having the freedom to walk down the sidewalk with her brother and her friends. Normally she's in a stroller, so this kind of latitude went straight to her head. This meant that every time the other kids turned up a sidewalk to collect some candy, she lost it. After three or four houses, the adults picked up on what she was doing, and we and our friends started to simply walk ahead with her (Kim- you rule!!!), and she dialed the anger down to a constant low-grade sob. It was a good compromise, right up till she got cold and we had to put her in the stroller. Jason wrapped her up in a blanket, and tried to give her her sippy cup of milk and her soother, and Eva's mood went from mildly disgruntled to the kind of rage displayed by an angry bull shark on a three month starvation diet. Anyone in biting range was fair game.

I couldn't take anymore. I looked at my watch, to see how long we had been out- it had to have been hours. It had been twenty-three minutes. Not including the ten spent chowing down on hot chocolate and tubes of floor meat. Seriously? I hadn't even finished my first 'coffee'!

Sometimes, you have epiphanies. Mine came tonight. Some things just aren't worth the agony. This was one of them. Jason and Squid continued onwards on their quest to collect Squid's body weight in chocolate, and Eva and I went home. I wrapped her in a blanket, finished my 'coffee' while I cuddled her, and put her to bed.

Maybe next year, we can try again. She seems to be growing out of this anger thing. Only a few weeks ago, at Thanksgiving, my cousin remarked how Eva had just smiled at him for the first time, and wanted to know if we had given her a thimbleful of rum (to which I replied ''No- a bucketful of Prozac''). Maybe there's hope.

But I'm eating her candy. She owes me.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

(Quick note: Isaiah and Liz just came home from their separate evenings with pillowcases FULL of candy. I can't believe people gave my teenagers candy!!! Unless, being faced with a 6 foot tall man-eating clown or a 5 foot 6 woman in a full body morphsuit, people gave them chocolate because they were worried that the alternative was even worse???)

(I'm eating their candy, too.)

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