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Posted: October 26, 2011 12:30 a.m.

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Halloween tricks and treats

Halloween is still five days away, but it’s already been a pretty scary October around here. I’m talking rusty pitchforks and trails of blood, towers of toppling trash and assault by a grizzled old geezer. The actual holiday is going to feel like a vacation compared to how October’s been so far.

We’re letting the kids have a Halloween party and that has involved massive amounts of cleaning and organizing. I always say that the only way to motivate my cleaning crew is to plan a party. So there you have it friends: I don’t host parties to display my mad Martha Stewart skills. The hidden agenda behind every event is to make my kids do lots of chores, however temporary the resulting cleanliness might be. 

Anyhow, for this party, we want to keep the activity mostly outdoors, which involves removing a ton of clutter from our carport. And speaking of carports, I’d like to smack the genius who chose to build a wide-open, door-less parking area instead of taking that one extra step to make a garage with a door. How I miss having something to close over all the stuff that accumulates after years of parenting! But, it’s a good excuse for a thorough cleansing purge — even if during the process, the carport looks like a couple episodes of “Hoarders” all mixed together.

The person my oldest son had an encounter with last week seems like the sort featured on “Hoarders.” Or maybe “The Hairy Bikers.” Except it would be “The Scary Hairy Bikers.” My kids exhibit an over-developed sense of fairness at times, and my oldest took it upon himself to serve a little verbal vigilante justice to a neighborhood kid who is constantly giving my boys’ friends a hard time at school. That kid’s grandfather, Scary Hairy, cursed in my son’s face, yanked his bike away and pushed him. 

Yeah, an older man physically assaulted my child. To say that Mama Bear was not happy is an understatement. I don’t think the authorities were happy to get dragged into this, either, because Scary Hairy claimed he didn’t do anything when we called him on it. Unfortunately, there were no witnesses except the grandson and another little boy who was too frightened to speak to the cops. That poor kid is probably having nightmares about hairy gray monsters chasing him on motorcycles.

It’s ironic that I’d just had a talk with my boy about how sometimes the wisest thing is to keep out of certain situations. And then he goes all Robin Hood, Dirty Harry, Green Hornet on me the very next day.

And in another stunning example of children ignoring their parents, my middle boy, Eli, stabbed himself in the foot with a rusty pitchfork Sunday. My husband and boys did some heavy yard work Saturday afternoon, during which they broke the pitchfork’s handle. Eli thought it great fun to throw the head of it into the side of a hill. His father made him stop, but Sunday afternoon, when Dad was conveniently not home, Eli picked it up again.

I saw him through the window, yelled for him to come inside, and he replied, “Just a minute, Mom.” Famous last words. Thirty seconds later, he screamed like I’d never heard before and I just knew what he had done. 

I’m not usually creeped out by blood, but oh — the blood that child trailed through the house! It completely wigged me out. I just knew he’d lopped off a toe or something. I grabbed paper towels and applied pressure, feeling sick as the blood oozed through the thick layers of paper. Fortunately, it wasn’t as bad as it seemed, with just one toe requiring five stitches. I hope the twice-daily, nasty-tasting antibiotic is helping to drive home the lesson that parents usually have very good reasons for telling their children “No” to something.

I saw a quote this morning that said, “Instead of looking back on your past and asking, ‘What was I thinking?’ ask ‘What was I learning?’” This October was definitely an educational month. I hope my kids learned that it pays to obey their parents. And I’ve learned once again that having a party is still the best way to achieve a clean house.



Kari may be reached at

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