Swimming Upstream

November 1, 2012 § 3 Comments

We decided long ago that candy has no place in our home. I’m sure some will disagree,but this seems to me an entirely reasonable position, given the nutritive properties of the average Skittle. The boys have been remarkably receptive to this rule, in no small part because we (well, ok, Penny) have endeavored to provide occasional treats comprised of actual food over the years. According to Fin and Rye, who are not at all opposed to rampant whining over perceived deprivations, they do not feel deprived by the lack of candy in their life.

Ah, but Halloween. I must admit that for a few years we struggled. And there were times when I actually felt a little sad for the boys, whose excitement for designing and donning costumes, carving pumpkins, and huddling around a bonfire eating homemade “soul cakes” whilst all their friends went begging for Nestle’s finest was so unrestrained and pure it almost bordered on pathos. My goodness, I would think, my kids are total rubes (which should come as no surprise, because of course what am I but a total rube?).

But something has shifted over the past couple of years, perhaps in part because we have made an annual tradition of joining in neighboring town’s street parade: Think impromptu brass band, waving torches, and a hundred or so fellow rubes dressed in costumes of their own creation. The boys march with zeal, often banging on something or another in questionable time to the music. This year, we went to a friend’s house for soup, pumpkin pie, and firecrackers before the parade, and although these friends would be going trick-or-treating later and we would not, and although they spoke with wide-eyed fondness of sweets to be consumed, Fin and Rye expressed little more than curiosity. Later, in the car, they peppered us with questions about how the trick-or-treat transaction actually happens, and about what sort of costumes Penny and I wore as children, and what sort of candy we liked best. But when we asked them if they’d like to go trick-or-treating, they demurred. “The parade is better,” said Rye. “Yeah,” said Fin, from between the ridiculous toilet-paper-tube elf ears he’d fashioned, “I like the parade.”

There are so many moments that I question the wisdom of swimming against convention, which we do in so many aspects of our life. And my questioning never seems more poignant than when it relates to the boys; in full honesty, there are times when I can’t help but think we risk irreparable harm by so flagrantly thumbing our nose at cultural norms.

And then there are times when I see how damn happy they are just to make a pair of elf ears and a paper mache raccoon mask, eat a bowl of soup and a piece of pumpkin pie with friends, and stomp around the darkened streets of a small Vermont town on a cool October evening. And in these too-rare moments, I think one thing and one thing only:

Screw convention.  

§ 3 Responses to Swimming Upstream

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