Gettin’ Wiggly

When I say, “I’m takin’ my kids to The Wiggles,” I mean I’m literally taking my kids to The Wiggles.

Story to come. Daddy be illin’. Hang tight. Story here.

(And, yes, my daughter went all shy on us. That is what happens with 4-year-olds. She actually was very excited, and has now spent the past three days saying “I should have smiled!”)

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Grave situation

Have I mentioned that I love Halloween? OK, just checking.

Meanwhile, this picture reminds me that I still need to pull down the cobwebs, remove the giant spider and spiderweb, and put away the full-size coffin replica that remain strewn about the front yard. (Yeah, I’m that neighbor.)

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Be afraid. Be very afraid (that I’m allowed to raise children, that is).

The Crow ... again

Is it possible that this man’s children could ever grow up to be normal? Because I’m hopeful, but not very optimistic.

I’ve already documented how nuts I get on Halloween, but the photo above really demonstrates the extent of my Halloween-induced insanity.

I paint my face. Like The Crow. For no apparent reason. You know, other than the fact that it’s just what I do on Halloween. Because, when it comes to Halloween, I’m a freak. (Actually, when it comes to most things, I’m a freak … but particularly when it comes to Halloween.)

Perhaps the most glaring bit of evidence that speaks to just how freakish is my decision to paint my face like this is the fact that, thanks to my whole geeked-out rig of remote-controlled Halloween mayhem, the Trick-or-Treaters never even see me. I’m hidden inside the house. So, basically, I do it just to get in the mood. It’s like Halloween-geek lingerie.

Of course, this year was a bit different … because, as if pulling together my entire Disneyworld-esque Halloween extravaganza isn’t enough of a herculean task, Wonder Woman decided to kick things up a notch by allowing the kids to have a pre-Trick-or-Treating party inside our house. So, basically, what went down was, we had, like, a dozen super-amped-up, costume-clad kids and their parents cavorting through our home, all of them wondering who the freakazoid in the white-and-black face paint was, and why he was setting up a microphone, and a remote-controlled fog machine and flood lamp and strobe light and spooky-sound-emitting boombox, and a video monitor that surveilled the front yard (all the while swilling down Sam Adams). The fact that no one seems to have reported me to Child Protective Services is a relief (and, simultaneously, extremely disconcerting).

Zan — who has seen his father do this for six of the seven Halloweens during which he’s been alive — put his friends at ease.

“Oh, that’s just my Dad,” he informed them. “He’s The Crow … again.” Zan thinks I should come up with a new costume … but the sheer simplicity of wearing black and painting my face has not yet lost its allure, for the spontaneity it affords me is unparalleled. To wit: after contemplating not donning a costume this year, I decided 15 minutes before the Halloween party began that I would stick with tradition … and, thankfully, had just barely enough makeup left to pull it off.

The party culminated in the ceremonial waking of Mr. Bones, which Zan had been anxiously awaiting for the entire month of October. He had, in fact, busted out the Bones for a test run weeks in advance, and had lobbied to man the microphone when the official Waking of The Bones took place.

So Wonder Woman and the other parents ushered the kids outside and had them surround Mr. Bones’ pseudo-coffin while Zan and I huddled around the video monitor, him clutching the microphone in his white-gloved hand. Wonder Woman then guided the children through the script Zan had devised.

“Mommy,” he had instructed her earlier in the day, “the first time you have the kids say ‘Wake up, Mr. Bones!,’ I won’t do anything; the second time, I’ll make him yawn; the third time, I’ll make him wake up.”

True to his word, Zan did just that, and earned big laughs for the yawn.

From there, the kiddos went off to loot and pillage …

Halloween '09

… while I commenced to putting on the Mr. Bones show …

Halloween '09

… aided by my mother and brother-in-law …

Halloween '09

… (the latter of whom instigated several cardiac episodes by standing stock-still and fooling people into believing he was a scarecrow, then suddenly moving and causing those people to drop several years off their lives).

Also coming through with the assist was my mother-in-law, who traveled all the way from Philadelphia to be part of this freakshow:

Halloween '09

Now, I have to admit, when it finally came time to call it a night and tear down the whole production, I felt, for the first time that I can recall, like all of the work required to pull this off might be more than I can continue to justify. The thought of toning it down next year came to mind.

Halloween '09

A few days later, I’m still sort of on the fence … but, if I was a betting man, I’d bet that the wackadoo pictured at the beginning of this entry will be back at it again next Halloween. Because that’s just what I do.

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One big blur of Halloween fun

Zan’s class had its Halloween parade today, and his Mario costume was a huge hit. Amazingly, in a group of three kindergarten classes and three 1st-grade classes, he was the only kid dressed as the ever-popular Italian video-game character … and when his class marched past the formation of 2nd-through-5th graders who were camped alongside the parade route, there was a robust chorus of excited “Mario!” cheers. Yeah, my kid’s the cool one. Go figure.

At the end of the parade, Zan’s teacher grouped all the kids together so that the press pool — I mean, the parents — could snap some pix. Many of the parents were calling their respective children’s names, which resulted in kids looking all over the place, willy nilly. Chaos reigned.

When there was a brief second of silence, I pounced.

“HEY EVERYBODY LOOK AT ME!”

Snap. Perfect picture. Every single kid looking right at my camera, no one blinking, no one’s face hidden. Best of all: Zan’s not old enough yet to get overly embarrassed by, or super pissed at, me for being the loud, dorky parent.

The picture was so good, I wanted to use it for Photo of the Day. Only problem was, I couldn’t really go and plaster everyone else’s kids up for all of the Internet to see, now, could I?

And then it occurred to me that I could use this opportunity to get jiggy with my new copy of Photoshop CS4. (The “Magnetic Lasso Tool”? They should have named it “The Coolest-Thing-Ever Tool.”)

Voila! Problem solved.

Which reminds me: I’m thinking about posting the occasional Photoshop tutorial. Anyone interested?

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There’s a small chance that you don’t totally suck at parenting, and you occasionally might even see evidence that supports that theory

[NOTE: If you followed a link over here from The Pioneer Woman’s article about layer masks, I was referencing the color-on-B&W photos contained in the entry below, so feel free to scroll on down if you’d rather skip the story and just view the pictures.]

There are those of you, I’m sure, who think that this blog is nothing more than one big digital shrine where I can stroke my overinflated ego for all the world to see … and if you are among those who think that, all I can say to you, my woefully cynical friend, is … well … um … yeah, you may have a point.

BUT!

That’s not all it is. Oh no, it’s more … much, much more.

For example, it’s also a place where both new and prospective parents can come to get highly valuable insight and advice about some of the lesser-known things that parenthood has in store for them. Insight and advice that I offer freely and without the expectation of anything return … you know, other than your continued patronage so that I can one day leverage my audience for some serious advertising dollars and a lucrative book deal … but, other than that? Free of charge.

Because I give. That’s what I do. I’m a giver.

So gather ’round, ye new and prospective parents (and anyone else in the highly desirable demographic of those ages 25-45 with an annual household income of $100,000 or more, particularly those likely to purchase a big-ticket item sometime in the next 3-6 months) as I regale ye with a tale steeped in the harsh reality of parenting … with a little dash of hope thrown in for good measure.

One day, your child will be in preschool … and one day that preschool will have a Halloween event during which all the children will model their costumes for the many parents to see. And you will think to yourself, “Oh, this is going to be so fun and adorable! I can’t wait to see my little girl wearing her costume while smiling and laughing and marching happily by with all of her little friends!” And you will go to the preschool armed with your various photo- and video-taking equipment while dancing in your head are the visions of the many priceless images you believe you’re going to capture. Images like this:

Halloween parade, 10.29.09

And this:

Halloween parade, 10.29.09

Doesn’t she make a lovely Snow White? What’s that? You can’t tell she’s supposed to be Snow White? What are you, blind?

Look closely:

Halloween parade, 10.29.09

See? Clearly a beloved and charming Disney character. Yes, I know: the fun and excitement and joy she emotes are kind of overwhelming, aren’t they?

And maybe you’ll bring with you to the parade your mother-in-law, whom your child hasn’t seen in three months, and who will call out to your child, thereby causing her to momentarily come out from behind the protective shield she has created around herself …

Halloween parade, 10.29.09

… until she realizes you’re still pointing the camera at her …

Halloween parade, 10.29.09

… at which point she will again retreat into her fortress of solitude …

Halloween parade, 10.29.09

And you might try to convince yourself that perhaps she’s just far too enamored with her shoes to do anything other than look down …

Halloween parade, 10.29.09

… but that’s probably not it. No, most likely, the problem is that you’re a shitty parent and you’ve done a horrible job of raising her. Yes, it’s all your fault. You’re an asshole. Nice going.

And if the child in question is your first child? Well, hell, you’ll probably believe that previous paragraph.

But don’t fret, parents and potential parents, because a child who reacts like this …

Zan's Halloween parade, 10.31.06

… to his first preschool parade, then bursts into tears, breaks from the pack and runs into Mommy’s arms (yes, that’s what happened) can go on to look like this …

Halloween parade, 10.30.09

Halloween parade, 10.30.09

… when his first-grade Halloween parade takes place.

And it’s also entirely possible that your preschooler — who, at the beginning of her parade, somehow collapsed her entire body in on itself so that she practically disappeared — could, by parade’s end, creep out of her shell.

Halloween parade '09

Halloween parade, 10.29.09

So maybe you’re not the world’s shittiest parent after all. Don’t count on it … but maybe.

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