October means pumpkin orange can be seen bursting out in Fall glory and the ca-chink of cash registers can be heard as we prepare for one our oddest of holidays, Halloween.
As we get older, isn't Halloween more industrial than celebratory? It's a concept strictly for wee-ones, on-the-make adults and the Halloween industry.
According to a recent Los Angeles Times story, we adults will spend $6.9 billion on this year -- an average of $74.34 for each of us.
Sure we adults get the latest scary movies, or images of Freddy, Jason as they Chainsaw their way down Elm Street. It's a mess of slashing and ooz-a-lating blood for us but what about the 3-8 year olds at home with the critical skills of chipmunks. Halloween can mean nightmares and imagined horrors lurking in bedroom closets and shadows. What do you do at 2 a.m. when they come padding into your room, scared out their wits because there's a creature in the closet? Your parental job description is well established here: calm their fears, get them and you back to sleep. This usually happens during your deepest REM sleep cycle, so the first choice is often, "Sweetie, there's no such things as witches," as you comfort them back to bed. But this is not their reality. There are witches. You must deal with their reality, not yours. The alternative is to let them crawl into your bed but this strategy has its detractors and you still haven't eliminated the witch-in-the-closet fear.
Here are two strategies that are most successful with parents who understand a simple concept: create fiction to combat a fiction or, in other words, lie to the little ones. Here's the first line of defense: Monster Spray. The only pre-requisite to this maneuver is that the child cannot read yet.
Step 1) Get a can of a common household air freshener spray like a Febreze or Airwick. Even though they can't read, it helps to tape a picture on the can of a goblin with a big slash mark through it.
Step 2) Explain to the child that this is special Monster Spray as you make a show of spritzing the offending area. If you have different monsters to deal with -- witches, goblins, creatures, you can assign specific odors for each one -- but this is only recommended for people who have no lives. Caution: do not claim the spray gets rid of monsters forever. Forever is way too ambiguous. Make it a one-night solution giving the little ones the power to call in the air-strike spray when needed. Oh, and you are the sole keeper of Monster Spray.
The second strategy is recommended when the Monster Spray ploy has run its course, or the child is reading. This is The Monster Hot-Line. All it requires is a phone and your imagination.
Step 1) This technique is employed just before bedtime. With the pajama-clad child listening to you only, dial up the Monster Hot-line.
Step 2) Your end of the call should sound something like, "Hi, is this the (fill in) Monster/Witch/Creature) Hotline?" Pause. "Good, I'm calling to get the witch forecast for our area. Are there are any witches predicted for tonight?" Longer pause as you put your best listening face on. You might even write something down. A few, "uhuhs, yes, uhuhs" helps. Throw in a "where?" "Great...Yes, well, thank you so much. Have a goodnight... you, too" This should be a toll-free call. Using a credit card is not recommended. Besides, the banks will send one to your children by third grade anyway, then they can pay for the call themselves.
Step 3) In order for the Monster Hotline to be effective, your report to the child must be plausible. When you tell them there are no witches in the neighborhood tonight, it is recommended that you add a touch of reality by telling them a flurry of witches -- refer to your notes -- is expected but they're far away, preferably on the other side of the country. Again, it's a one-time only call which is repeated only at the child's behest giving them some control in the whole charade.
If you believe that creating a fiction to combat a fiction is wrong, these strategies are not for you. But keep in mind that it's not always about what's real. It's about Halloween, the movies, or so-called Reality TV where perception is usually the reality. And isn't that the real scare about Haloween?