I’ve never seen anything like it. The Halloween Parade.

This Norman Rockwell village, a throwback to a nicer time in America–where neighbors bring each other pies and talk to new people in town–really knows how to throw a party.

We just had the Arts Festival, which, in a good year draws three hundred thousand people to our sleepy hollow. Who knew Halloween would bring our village to life once again, clogging the main traffic artery from Connecticut to Rhode Island–little witches and toddler-aged monsters creating more backup than an old person without fiber and the Presidential motorcade which was across our tiny state at the very same time.

Those are stats to brag about.

I’ve missed the Halloween Parade every year. When Declan was in Kindergarten, I was too new a parent to pay attention to notes and announcements in folders, “Activity this, night out that, parade…. Last year, I was in the hospital, grounded. I missed Halloween entirely.

So this year I had to go. I had no plausible deniability. The parade was posted everywhere from emails to a color flier.  Color fliers are really, really expensive–everyone in education knows that unless Jesus Christ announces his return on a purple cloud, nothing gets printed in color.

Color means, “Pay attention you lame parent who always forgets stuff.” Color means “mandatory.”

“Do you want to go to the parade, Declan?”

“Yeah!” I was trying to get him to skip traditional trick-or-treating.

The parade started “Promptly at 4:00PM.” We arrived promptly at 3:58, searching far and wide for a parking spot. Every blade of public grass had a car parked on it with little creatures of the night emerging.

Note to self: pick the boy up from school next year. I’d been too lazy to write the note so I could get him, so he had to take the bus home like normal. I told him he’d get off the bus, pee, and we’d go. He thinks my car won’t start if he hasn’t used the bathroom. I told him it had a sensor.

Lying is an effective chapter in the parenting handbook. By the time they learn we’ve been lying all along, it’s time for a new book altogether. I reached for my phone and pressed a couple screens. Declan believes I have apps and sensors for just about everything. He obeys like a dog trained to a high-pitch sound controlled by a remote.

Adults teach children not to lie while being full of lies ourselves.

We parked illegally, fixed our costumes, dropped off our canned food donation and joined a million other monsters, ghouls fairy princesses, butterflies, and families walking the block around the village.

There was a visible cloud of joy among the children, surrounded by a storm of “Get the #$%$ off the road” emanating from the mile of stopped cars trying to get from Rhode Island to Connecticut. Drivers were displeased to find their commute shut down by a thousand creatures strolling through town slower than a Little League parade.

For us, the parade had great meaning. Declan pointed out the house where his dad grew up.

“That’s was my Grandma’s house.” He showed his little friend. It was one of the oldest houses in the state. “That’s my dad’s mom. She’s dead. The house is haunted.”

“Oh.” said his little friend, holding out a severed head on a stick.

The parade ended. A civic organization gave the children pizza.

“Come on,” I said. I wanted to do something special with my son. “Let’s go to the graveyard.” I love graveyards. Turns out, Declan does too. We took pictures. We looked for the oldest stones.

“Why does this one have a flag?” he asked. I told him the people with the flags were soldiers. We traced the moss-covered dates with our fingers, and I talked a little about each war until Declan lost interest, running to the next stone.

When I was his age, I went to old Connecticut graveyards with my dad. We photographed the stones of the deceased. There are a lot of stories in old gravestones. I promised to take Declan to some of the really old graveyards in New England. In the meantime, I taught him why we don’t step on gravestones and how to respect the dead.

“They will not haunt me, Mom. Ghosts are fiction.” I said they’re not. “That’s what Scrooge thought, too.”

“Jacob Marley is fiction.”

“Maybe, but what if there are others….”

“There aren’t. Mommy, that’s fiction, not science.” He gave me a lecture about how science works and that ghosts aren’t logical.

I told him ghosts are real. He told to prove it. I may reach into my adult book of lies and create a haunting, but he’ll disprove it with science.

We left the graveyard. “Come on, Mom, let’s go trick or treating.”

“Didn’t you have enough fun at the parade?”

“Yes,” he said, “But there’s more candy. I have to get it.”

Get it, we did. Even though the bad mom in me hadn’t coordinated with a single other kid or hayride, he was happier than Scrooge counting money. He sorted the candy and snuck as many pieces as he could.

I waited for the “Okay, Mom, I want this for Christmas.” I didn’t hear it, so I put him to bed, waiting for the sugar coma to take over his soul before the Sugar Plum Fairy arrives.



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