I learned a huge lesson this Halloween! Have you ever done something with your children you wish you hadn’t done? When you were finished doing what you deeply regretted did the thought of “I’d rather pluck out my nose hairs than repeat that experience again” cross your mind? Well, that is the exact thought that crossed my mind the night before Halloween. Now that I look back on my mistake I can laugh about it, but I definitely wasn’t laughing when it happened.
It was a Friday night and we had already promised our four children (Chad Jr., Grace, Abigail, and Joseph) that we would take them to our small town’s haunted house. They were all ecstatic except for my son Joseph. He was scared and crying before we even left the house! He will be six soon and he has a knack for freaking out. I assured him that if he was too scared that I would sit with him in the truck. By the time we arrived the crying had stopped and he wouldn’t hear of sitting in the truck. “Men don’t sit in the truck Mom” he insisted. Now I was the one with an uneasy feeling about him going in. My mother’s intuition has become quite fine tuned over my service of parenthood, but I wanted to be supportive and let him make the decision. We were freezing while waiting in line outside and this kid came running out dressed like a monster dawning a roaring chainsaw, and along came “Mommy carry me”! He isn’t a large child, in fact he’s quite small for his age, but I’m a five foot one inch and ninety four pound woman with an awful back! What did I go and do? Me, trying to being the super mom that I am, picked him up and out went my back. Chad, being the sweet man that he is, took Joseph because he was still insisting on going in. Finally, it was our turn to go inside, my back was killing me, and I’m thinking dumb, dumb, and dumb. Poor Chad didn’t get Joseph ten feet in the door and Jo was already not enjoying his experience. The crying was back. Let me add that these ghoulish creatures with scary tools and instruments were high school students with a sick sense of humor. Chad Jr. was wrestling around with some of the monsters in the front of the line (who were all friends of his) which slowed the process down considerably! I had two little girls (ages nine and seven) attached to my arm and leg as they were pushing and shoving me through the place while screaming, and at the same time I’m irritatingly saying hello to all of the spooky creatures. Chad and Joseph were in front of us a ways and I could hear Joseph as the crying turned into a terrified wailing of “go back”. The high school monsters were absolutely loving my son’s terrifying experience and were making it much worse. We finally got to this room and they had us sit down and I was thinking “cool it’s over”. Boy was I wrong! The wailing had gone back to crying, but Joseph wasn’t about to let go of Chad. After we sat for a minute they led us to some stairs with strobe lights going wild at the bottom and the reality of doom hit me. We were only half-way through, and I realized just then that it was only going to get worse. Poor Chad was trying to reassure Joey that he wasn’t going to die while Grace and Abigail were trying to shove him down the stairs! We made it to the bottom of the stairs, alive, when I decided that it was a great idea to haul butt out of there before permanent damage was done to Joseph’s mental health and to Chad’s hearing. I was back to saying hello to the ghouls, and then they noticed they wouldn’t have any fun with me and preceded to move on to the wailing five year old boy and the screaming seven year old girl. By that time Joseph’s wailing had turned into a traumatized shrieking while he was screaming “get me out of here”. Chad’s reply to that was “Oh buddy we are going!” Joseph was pleading for Chad to “go back, go back” while Chad was trying to make Joey realize that he couldn’t do that. Then it got worse, because in the midst of me trying to greet terrifying monsters while the girls were climbing up my legs and arms like possessed monkeys and shoving at me, I was trying to get Joseph to release his death grip on Chad and hide his face in Chad’s neck. Meanwhile at that very second Chad could tell that something had popped up behind him, because Joseph grew rigid like a board and let out a scream that I didn’t think could come out of such a tiny body. Chad turned around and there was a six foot four kid dressed out of a terror movie standing behind him amidst the blindingly bright flashing strobe lights. Two minutes later we finally made it out of there, once again alive, with Chad Jr. laughing, the girls yakking about how much they loved it, Chad deaf in one ear, Joseph was crying and saying “I don’t ever want to go back there”, and “Don’t make me do that again”, while I was walking like a ninety year old woman in desperate need of a walker. On our way to the truck I told Chad that I didn’t think my back and arms would ever be the same again. His response to that was “I don’t think my ears will ever be the same”. As we got into the truck I overheard Chad say “You weren’t scared at all were you Joseph?” “Yes I was!” Joseph replied.
There are a few lessons I learned from my experience. Number one; always follow the little voice in your head when it’s warning you. Number two; if you choose to ignore number one when kids are involved, take some pain killers, muscle relaxers, Xanex if available at least thirty minutes before you leave, bring earplugs, and give Dramamine to any finicky children. Number three; bring child sized earplugs and a night mask just incase. Number four; if you aren’t sure your child is ready Do Everyone a Favor and see lesson number one. Of course I was joking about drugging up my child, but sometimes it would be tempting, huh?