Now that Halloween has come and gone, I can confess that the day always brings me back to when Kim was 12 years old.
Kim is my only child and she was also the only “only” child in her school from kindergarten to 12th grade. Most of her friends had an older sibling or two. My point is that Kim’s friends’ parents were not as strict with their children as I was with Kim. They had all been through it and had already loosened the reigns a bit when their second or third child arrived. Not so for me. Kim was my first child and was also still my baby. I worried about her safety all the time. That plus the fact that I come from a long line of Italian fatalists who believe that if something tragic can happen, it will, and that it will happen to us, our children and everything we hold near and dear.
I can still remember that when I was a child my grandparents were flying to California to visit family. My mom, dad and sisters and all my aunts, uncles and cousins drove them in a caravan to the airport to see them off. With tears in our eyes and some of us wailing, we hugged and kissed them good bye, each one of us certain that the plane would hit the side of a mountain and we would never see them again. With that kind of upbringing, I was doomed; but still, I tried my best not to be a “helicopter mom.”
So, at the age of 12, when Kim asked if she could go trick or treating with her friends, both male and female, on Halloween night, all the hairs on my body stood on end.
Realizing that she was getting older and I had to try to let go a bit, I said yes, but only if I went along as well.
“No Mom. Please. The kids will make fun of me and never let me forget it.”
“I know that! That’s why I’ll be dressed in a Halloween costume.” That was the deal and she had to take it or leave it. She took it.
I draped myself in an enormous white sheet with a few holes cut out for my eyes and arms. I also made sure I wore gloves to hide my 42 year old hands. “It’s all in the details,” I assured Kim. I was introduced to the gang as Kim’s shy younger cousin, and we hoped they were too involved with trick or treating to even bother with me.
Happily no one ever realized who I was and no one even talked to me. We actually got away with it; and I got a sack full of candy. It was the biggest haul of my life!
Fast forward to Kim’s senior year in high school and her entire class was going to Cancun for spring break. I had heard too many stories of drinking and all the awful things that go along with that, so my husband and I said,”No.” The compromise this time was that I promised to take her shopping and spend the same amount that it would have cost to go to Cancun. I explained to her that it was not about the money, but about keeping her safe.
A quick shout-out to my amazing daughter, Kim, who has with grace and not all that much fuss, put up with most of my antics and rules as she was growing up.