Friday, 5 November 2010

Write of Passage number fourteen: do I get my medal yet?

Conversation doesn't come easily to younger daughter. I spend two hours each day with her on the bus, but very few words are exchanged and if I try to introduce a topic, I'm usually met with an impatient "I know! I know that, Mum!" even if she doesn't know, because the underlying message is Please stop talking; I'm getting overwhelmed.

So the days when she does initiate a conversation are special indeed, and terrifying, because it means the topic is of vital importance and my answer can make or break her heart.

About a week before Hallowe'en, she sees something out the bus window which makes her shudder with delight.

"Hallowe'en is coming really soon!"
I agree.
She reaches across and touches my arm with one mitten. It's black and has reflective skeletal hand bones over the back. (Uh-oh. She's touching me to make sure I'm paying attention. This must be paramount. She rarely does this.)

"I do want to go trick-or-treating this year..."
"Really?" I say, gently quizzical. "Aren't you fourteen?"
"I know I'm fourteen, Mum!" She retreats back to her window and I watch her internal struggle throughout the long bus ride, punctuated by rebellious murmurs and flat declarations such as:
"Fine! I won't go trick-or-treating!"
Minutes pass, more muttering.
Finally: "I've changed my mind! I won't watch Meet Me in St Louis tonight!"
Meet Me in St Louis features a long segment about Hallowe'en. The previous evening, she watched ET which is set in the days around Hallowe'en.

As we get off the bus, she is clearly unhappy and strides ahead of me. I follow her sadly, considering the issue. The Resident Fan Boy and I both gave up trick-or-treating when we became teenagers. Things were a little more delineated then. At thirteen in British Columbia, you used to leave elementary school and enter junior high. These days, middle schools muddy the waters between childhood and adolescence. They can begin as early as Grade Six in some provinces. Furthermore in our long-vanished childhoods, there was considerable social pressure to stop trick-or=treating when one got older. One lady was so adamant that she refused treats to any kid who appeared to her to be over ten. Her windows got soaped and egged quite a bit...

When we came to Ottawa ten years ago, I was quite startled to see great hulking teenagers outnumber the little tikes who appeared on my porch with pillowcases at the ready. Nevertheless, older daughter decided on her own (with several veerings in the days before the festival) to stay home when she turned thirteen.

Near younger daughter's school, she falls back into step with me. (Another once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence.)

"I'll watch Enchanted tonight. I was just kidding about trick-or-treating."
My heart melts. "Some teenagers do trick-or-treating, but Daddy and I stopped when we were thirteen. So did your sister. Why don't you ask at school if they still trick-or-treat?"
Short silence.
"I think I will go trick-or-treating, but this will be the last time."
"That sounds like a good plan," I say gravely.
"And next year, I'll just stay home."
"Well, you can still wear a costume to school and we will still carve a pumpkin and you can hand out the treats."
"Yes. 'Cause I'm not a little kid."
"And the good thing about handing out the treats is that you can still eat them!"
"Good. I might get hungry on Hallowe'en."


JoeinVegas said...

So.what did she end up doing?

Persephone said...

Exactly what she said she'd do. She decided to be a devil, we got a costume and she trick-or-treated for a little less than an hour. It was bloody cold....

Peter AJ said...

In case nobody else says it - you're an angel.

Persephone said...

Well, thank heavens for that, Peter! It might balance out the devil factor in our household....