I worked pretty hard to teach my little ladybug to say "trick or treat." I got "trick." I even got "treat peez," but try as I might, I couldn't get her to string them together.
I figured "treat peez" would be enough to melt the hearts of any candy distributor, so we went on our merry way two adults, a lady bug with a saggy butt and red lipstick smeared on her nose and a baby gorilla whose leg snaps wouldn't stay closed, but whose black nose was still perfect.
We got to our first stop and the lady bug froze.
She didn't get out a word.
Even after she discovered that candy was the reward, she didn't utter a sound. Sure, she blew kisses when we said "say goodbye," but those all-important, knock-'em-over-with-cuteness words just wouldn't come.
We practiced again in the car as we made our way to the next stop and again she had "treat peez" down.
Not once did she use it in its correct form.
The first Halloween, like the first birthday, is always for the parents. The kids don't care, nor do they really even understand at this point in their lives.
I mean, the candy is always good, but the process of getting it, I think, baffles them.
Halloween night marked a change in my relationship with my daughters.
Katie, who not very long ago would have attached herself to a group of little goblins and took off down the street, attached herself to me like glue. Not even in familiar surroundings would she loosen her grip, nor would she allow her father to handle some of the burden.
That makes two.
For months, Nikki has been more attached than I could have imagined. She can be happily playing on the floor and break into sobs if I walk past and don't respond to her full-faced, gap-toothed smile by picking her up and toting her along with me.
Miss Independent Katie has never been like that. She's got her own agenda and is going to chase it no matter who's chasing her.
I guess I got what I asked for.
Before the girls came, our family consisted of me, my husband and his two boys.
Now these two boys absolutely idolize their father. I used to laugh at him because they were his leeches. If he was sitting in the recliner watching television, two boys were piled in his lap. If he was playing a game on the computer, it was with one on his lap and the other in a chair pulled tightly to his.
He even had company in the bathroom.
When the girls came, it didn't change, it just added more weight.
We're not sure the recliner will survive the assault.
I complained. I admit it. I wanted to be the focus every now and then.
I mean, the boys even fought over who got to sit behind their father in the car!
Well, be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it.
I did. In spades
Don't get me wrong. I love the fact that only I can make their hurts better and that it's me they want to cuddle with to fall asleep.
But all the time?
I know, I know. There's no such thing as just being satisfied.
When they're teen-agers, I will again be lamenting the fact that they never want to spend time with me, but this is now, and now I want to load the dishwasher with both hands, take a bath all alone and not have the baby burst into tears because Uncle Bill hunkered down and said "Hi sweetie."
Then again, I think of grandparents and know they're such wonderful people because they've been there. They know how fast it goes and how easy it is to get distracted by a job, the laundry, dinner that needs to be fixed.
People seem to have to live through it once before they understand what they've missed.
I'm trying to take a page out of their books. I'm learning there's nothing more important than spending time with those little ones for as long as they will consent to spend time with me.
So the dishes aren't done and the pile of dirty clothes is growing. So the yard's out of control and the car needs its oil changed. I'll have the rest of my life to catch up on neglected chores.
There's no reliving childhood as a child or as a parent.
It's hard to see cracker crumbs on the carpet and know it might be days before they get vacuumed up, but the monster is getting better at just stepping over them as she chases the ladybug into the tickle corner.
That's a trick. And a treat.