Trick or treat, or sick and beat?

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Five-year-old Nikki had no idea what she wanted to be for Halloween. She settled on the second costume she saw -- an Indian -- and no amount of cajoling changed her mind.

Six-year-old Katie knew exactly what she wanted to be for Halloween. She was born knowing. It took her about 40 minutes to choose a costume.

My Katie was born to be a princess. There's absolutely no doubt about that. The problem is -- just what kind of princess? Dress after dress after dress; she'd look, say "ahhh." Just when I'd get my hopes up, she'd say "not that one."

I despaired ever finding THE ONE.

But alas, just about the time I was ready to make the choice for her, she it upon exactly what she wanted -- a dress, wings and wand that would make her a fairy princess.

Thank you, God.

From that moment on, when Katie wasn't at school, she wore her wings and brandished her wand. I managed to hide the rest before she could completely outfit herself.

The countdown to Halloween began. For the girls, who figured costumes equals time to go, the wait was interminable (December is going to be a nightmare).

The big day approached and sniffles turned into fevers and aches into infections. Viruses were running rampant at the Currie house, jumping from body to body and firmly in control. Just as we were on the mend, they would renew their attack, creating a new form of misery.

I knew one thing would prevail over any ache, over any pain -- for Nikki, it was the promise of candy. For Katie, it was the costume.

Oct. 31 dawned clear and sunny. Nikki jumped out of bed to suit up. Katie did the same thing, and was really not happy when she found out she wasn't allowed to wear her costume to school. She had to wait until the afternoon before decking herself in purple lace. There was some lingering un-wellness, but nothing that a shot of Motrin didn't mask.

Life was good.

At 1 p.m., just as I was heading out the door with Katie's costume in hand, the phone rang. Katie had made it through the entire day of learning, but as party time approached, she lost her hold.

She was ready to go home. As the school day paused for students and teachers to dress up, Katie was lying in the nurse's office -- her only change a sweater, left behind by some other child, she was using to ward off the chills.

Even the tantalizing picture of an array of costumes, brightly decorated cupcakes and bags of candy couldn't convince her to stay.

The magic of Motrin kicked in long enough for them to partially fill their buckets.

Now, two days later and gaining ground on the waves of sickness, the girls are realizing just what they missed.

They're also seeing what they gained.

"Mom, can I get my candy?"

"No."

"I won't eat it, I promise. I just want to count it."

Well, that's a new one.

And count it they did. Then, they lost interest long enough for the dog to enjoy the spoils of their effort.

For some, trick or treat was more like sick and beat.

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