What could be better than to be eight years old, out at dark, running with friends, getting candy door to door. Not much. Except, perhaps, being five years old and permitted to tag along. Or being their mother, trailing with glass of wine in hand.
Halloween did not disappoint. At first I goofed. Forgot my cup. But a friend at one house on our rounds handed me the glass of wine out of her hand. I took it, not so much because I needed wine on this sweet night, but because I needed to know if the rumours were true. And knowing this friend, it was bound to be good wine. She did not disappoint.
Barely thirty minutes into the candy march, our boys surprised us by telling us they were done. Done? I asked. Done, they answered: their bags were too heavy; they had enough candy; they had had enough of it all. They wanted to go home. Proof, as though I needed more, that they are not me.
Their father was delighted. The World Series was on. Phillies vs. Yankees. Father vs. Sons. The boys poured their candy on the floor and straddled their bounty as the Phillies struggled. They arranged, sorted, counted, traded, and consumed. They put away a few lonely rejects. They graced their parents’ palms with one or two good ones. Such good boys. The one with a tummy ache and heavy eyelids went upstairs for a bath, while his father and older brother watched baseball and monitored the doorbell.
Different treats awaited upstairs: a heated bathroom, oversized plush towels, clean brushed teeth, feet pajamas. But then a protest, “I’m not going to bed until Aaron does.” I picked up those fifty pounds of my baby, entered his bedroom though his hands grabbed the doorframe, and sat with him in the rocking chair. I offered a memory as a distraction, “Did you know that when you were a baby, we used to sit in this chair, and I would rock you and sing you songs and you would fall asleep?” He was listening still, so I kept rocking and began to sing.
Twinkle twinkle little star, How I wonder what you are . . . Shelter us beneath your wings, oh Lord on high . . . Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly . . . If you want to sing out sing out, and if you want to be free be free . . . I could have stayed there all night, singing my wishes for him. I stayed longer than I needed to. Then I pulled his blankets back with my outstretched toes, and slipped him onto his bed.
Downstairs, they continued to monitor baseball and trick or treaters. The eight year old treated “God Bless America” and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” with as much reverence as he did the pitches, hits and outs. Maybe more. He sang along, stopping to comment to his father about the operatic singer in military uniform,“He has a beautiful voice.” I was surprised he would notice. They sang together, “For its root root root for the Phillies,” and I was caught off guard again; could he be rooting for his father’s home team at last? “No,” he explained. “It’s a Phillies home game. I always sing the home team’s name.”
The singing ended, the baseball resumed, the doorbell rang. He ran to get it. “39 Dad!” he exclaimed running back to the game. He was counting the number of kids coming to our door, hoping for 40.
It was a magical night. Candy, friends, a Yankees win. And 47 kids seeking sweets at our door. He got more than he wished for.