Interestingly enough, Halloween presents a challenge for many island kids, or more accurately, for many island parents. The challenge is where exactly to go trick-or-treating. Islands tend to include high percentages of second-home owners, so many of the houses, especially when Halloween falls on a weeknight, are empty. In addition, some islands have small gated communities or communities with limited access, and there tends to arise all sorts of questions about whether or not the gates will be open Halloween night and whether or not the residents will even be expecting trick-or-treaters. We’ve done a number of things over the years with the small people, including community events, business-sponsored trick-or-treats, and going over to nearby friends’ houses who live in areas that are more conducive to trick-or-treating.
This year, we were faced with the new island/new customs dilemma. I heard mixed answers from the first couple of people I spoke with about where to go, so when I was at the boys’ school yesterday, I made a general nuisance of myself and asked around. I got a couple of good suggestions that were confirmed by multiple people, so armed with that information, we donned our costumes at dinnertime and headed out.
LCB is our resident pumpkin carver. Typically, he picks the biggest pumpkin we have, carves and guts it, and saves the seeds to cook afterward. I have been most happy with this tacit arrangement, I must confess.
This year our pumpkins were all of similar size, so when the time came to pick the pumpkin to be carved, my younger son requested that LCB use his pumpkin (the one my son picked at the pumpkin patch) to carve. All was well until baby-girl decided, midway through LCB’s carving of the chosen pumpkin, that she wanted hers carved too.
Then, out of the blue, my oldest son turned to me and said, “C’mon, Mom. You gotta make things fun for Dad, and give him some real competition. Keep it interesting.”
Where did we grow this kid?
I’m not asking rhetorically, either.
He went on to explain how his life was less full because his younger brother refused to compete with him on most things. I bit my tongue and did not speak truth in this moment, which is that his brother usually opts out of competing with him because he is, in fact, a competitive freak, a force during game time few wish to reckon with. No, I was good. Instead, I said something like, “Hghhhhhhh,” and grabbed a carving knife.
I think I lucked out in the end, because LCB, who can be freakishly competitive in his own right, was more concerned about gleaning enough seeds so that he could fry one batch and bake another for a little taste-testing. So he said little (relatively speaking, of course) and was preoccupied with the seed extraction.
My younger son proclaimed his pumpkin the winner the minute LCB finished, assuming the victory was his personally simply because it was his pumpkin. His assessment came a little premature, however, since I wasn’t even halfway done with his sister’s pumpkin.
Ignoring his brother, my older son dubbed himself the judge, reasoning that he didn’t have a dog in this fight like his two siblings. He had predetermined that his pumpkin would not be carved, but instead be the recipient of various Sharpie-facilitated messages, like the following:
After I finished mine and we put them side by side out on the deck, however, with great sagacity, the judge proclaimed it a tie.