Halloween! Candy lessonscostumes and cowering under larger-than-life plastic pumpkins with suspiciously-smirking expressions in the grocery store. Huh? Yes… it’s one of my most fond memories with my older girl.

I remember well from last year: At first I didn’t know what was going on. I had both my girls in the shopping cart in line at the checkout and my (then) two year old suddenly started panicking, squirming and begging to go outside. She’s having a toddler moment, I thought. Just as I was starting to ignore her I realized this was not one of her “usual toddler moments.” She was FREAKING OUT. She was scared. She was practically hyperventilating and tears were welling up.

“What is it sweetheart?” I tried to investigate as I loaded my produce onto the conveyor belt. More panicking. Then squealing. Now she was physically trying to climb out of the shopping cart. I started exchanging confused expressions with the checkout guy, who offered her a balloon to calm her down (it didn’t work). I looked around. Then I looked up: there was a giant blow-up Jack-o-Lantern grinning down at us from above the checkout, and his smile teetered somewhere between saying “Happy Candy Day” and “I’ll Get You My Pretty” (although this same pumpkinhead didn’t seem to phase my seven month old who was sitting in the same cart). “Outside! Outside!” my toddler was screaming and crying, pointing to the door. I swiped my credit card, nabbed our receipt and pushed us all out of the store.

Flashback. The horror... the horror.

Flashback. The horror… the horror.

She instantly calmed down. “Did that bad pumpkin make you mad?” I questioned as I rolled my girls to our car. “Uh-huh,” she replied, “Mad pumpkin!” she cried with the little corners of her mouth folded down and a little dap of snot dripping out of her nose. And then I got mad. HOW. DARE. THAT. PUMPKIN. My parenting kicked in. This was a teaching moment (maybe it wasn’t, but I was inexplicably motivated to turn it into one that day).

Sure, she’s only two, but now’s as good as time as ever for her to learn to handle situations and make herself feel better when life calls. I was here to cuddle and comfort her now, and I’ll be here for the rest of my life to do so, but learning how to be strong is one of the most valuable traits that a woman can posses (in my humble opinion, anyways). And Halloween can get kinda scary for a little kid sometimes. I’ll always remember her frightened little face from that day.

So I gave her a hug, assured her everything was okay, and then leaned down and told her this right there in the parking lot (with my then-baby watching us):

“Next time we see that pumpkin, and next time that pumpkin makes us scared, we’re gonna be brave and say: GO-AWAY-PUMPKIN!” Yes, I yelled that last part at the top of my lungs and dramatically waved my finger around right then and there. Passers-by turned and looked. She started laughing.

“So what are we going to say next time?”

“GO-WAY-PUNKIN!!” She giggled while waving her tiny finger in the air. And then we went home… shouting that phrase in our car all the way. It’s one of my most tender Halloween memories with my girls. My only question is: Will we remember to say it again this year?

DO YOU HAVE A FUNNY HALLOWEEN MEMORY WITH YOUR TODDLERS?

 

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