Somewhere today between the 37th subsequent pretend game of “Fire Rescue” and nearly being stabbed in the eye as N spun around the kitchen wielding a pumpkin-carving knife and a sugar-induced adrenaline rush, I lost it. It might have been when N jumped from the couch onto my back as I was sneaking in a quick song with Baby K, or maybe when Joe announced he wasn’t feeling good and was going to bed with very inconvenient timing, leaving me to cook for two hungry, tired kids, feed said hungry, tired kids, and then force everyone to enjoy some pumpkin carving.
Whatever it was that did me in, I was done. Cooked. Completely over all of it. Which sucked, because I love carving pumpkins. Love it. I don’t go all fancy with printed-out patterns or exciting tools that help me etch Starry Night into a giant gourd. No, I just stick with faces and maybe a bat or two. But, damn do I like slopping those disgusting seeds onto the floor and sawing out a creation some punk is just going to smash in the street the next night. It’s worth it for the minute we light the candles inside the jack-o-lanterns and turn out the porch light to watch them glow while we sing “Jack-o-lantern, Jack-o-lantern” to them.
Usually, I love it. Not tonight. This is how tonight’s pumpkin carving went:
We (N and I, since Joe was in bed and I had secured Baby K in a bouncy chair to keep him from choking on pumpkin guts) lay out the newspaper and put the pumpkins on the floor.
N jumps onto his footstool to reach the counter: “Mama, I’m going to get some candy.” Me: “No, you’re not. You’ve had two cupcakes and more candy than you could possibly need today.” N begins to pout.
Me, with the great redirect: “Which pumpkin should we start with?” N: ‘The baby one. But you need to give him a scary face.” Fitting, considering N’s current feelings about his too-cute brother.
N, in his teasing voice, back on the effing stool: “I’m going to get some caaandy…” Me: “If you get one more piece of candy off the counter, you’re going to bed. Get back over to your pumpkin and scoop its guts out.” And have fun while you do it.
This negotiation goes on annoyingly for five minutes, finally escalating to threats of cancelling Halloween.
Me (as you will see, I’ve lost it at this point): “if you get on that stool one more time to try to reach that candy, we’re not trick-or-treating tomorrow and I’ll give your costume away.”
Right, like that is going to happen. For one, I spent four hours ironing purple stripes onto a sweatsuit for his cat costume and my back still hurts from leaning over the ironing board. Plus, I’m not actually a terrible witch, I just play one most evenings.
So, after the near-miss with the pumpkin knife, a few tears and some screaming (both from me), and an eventual realization that I was going to be carving pumpkins all alone for the first time in my life, I gave up. We took two hastily-finished jack-o-lanterns outside and I mustered the patience to sing to them in the dark because, well, they need it to fully function as jack-o-lanterns, I’m fairly sure.
Then, in what is more of a routine than I’d like to admit, I tuck N into bed along with my guilt over losing control of our house once again, apologize for yelling and tell him he’s a good boy. To which he responds, “I know I am, Mama. I just act naughty sometimes, but I still love you.” And as I’m walking from the room empty of my earlier frustration, he shouts, “I’m gonna get some candy after I sleep all night. For breakfast. Lots of it.” Sigh. Next year I’m telling him he’s allergic to sugar.