The Amazing Race – The Family Edition

Remember that post where I confided that I would never do the Amazing Race because it would likely result in my or Tex’s death? Well I ate my words because shortly after that we embarked on the challenge WITH OUR SON. Only not exactly, because Phil Keoghan wasn’t there to stand at the finish saying “Man, you guys made it just under the wire and phwwwwooooar what is that smell? Unwashed, you know you can bathe at the rest stops, they allow time for that.”

The justification for this endless trip was that Tex had a conference in Newfoundland therefore we should explore the province. The wrench in the works was that a nonstop flight from here to Newfoundland was EIGHT HOURS. I’m going to retype that so you can picture the bloody carnage from stuffing me into a small space for that long. EIGHT HOURS.

Tex would have been able to poop from at least five new places on his body from being ripped so many new @#&holes had we chosen to fly for eight hours straight. My son would start talking like he worked on an oil rig after hearing me use so many curse words; “Mother of &!#$, grilled &%$#?% cheese again? Aw hell.” After three hours on a plane, I become a rabid caged animal with a filthy vocabulary. This necessitated a stopover in the throbbing metropolis where my family lives. Thus the Amazing Race the Family Edition began

The Race : To and from Canada’s Most Eastern Province In Search of Adventure and The Best Places To Pee In A Bush

The Team :

Unwashed, whose hygiene habits make her the ideal candidate for not showering for days while traveling from place to place.

Tex, whose patience and problem solving skills will be tested during this competition. Mostly by his wife.

Mini-Tex has the ability to sleep anywhere; this quality will be exploited by his adventuring parents.

The First Leg : Location – Toronto             Duration : 8 Days

Challenge – Ride a combination of six trains, a bus, a subway and two streetcars to have coffee, dinner and a chess game with twenty-seven separate people. Mini Challenge for Mini-Tex – Terrorize his grandmother’s cat.

Commentary : Unwashed bravely took on this leg by herself. It was a marvel the way she refrained from punching cars in anger when Torontites cut in front of her stroller in the rain. Likewise Mini-Tex handled his challenge with aplomb using a combination of yelling “Cat! CAT!!!” and playing a one sided game of catch with the feline using a dodge ball.

Second Leg : St. John’s                  Duration : 5 Days

Challenge – Keep ahold of the stroller on enormously steep hills and consume the contestants’ body weight in fish following hiking up three thousand stairs. Also look somewhat professional for Tex’s conference.

Commentary : There were a couple of anxiety filled moments with the stroller where it was a millisecond away from careening out of control but the couple showcased their fitness and speed through their reaction times. Mini-Tex once again proved that he is the world’s best sleeper by snoozing through the 684,000 steps down Signal Hill and the 1,239,000 steps back up Signal Hill. Supposedly there are an equal number of steps down as up, but contestants always report that going up is twice as hard particularly with an unconscious toddler on your back. Unwashed received a standing ovation when she made it through the entire conference without tucking her skirt into her tights.

 

Third Leg : Traytown- Grand Falls – Woody’s Point                        Duration : 8 Hours

Challenge – Keep all contestants happy and alive while driving across the second smallest province in Canada

Commentary – The contestants almost narrowly failed this challenge when they chose to stop at the gas station/restaurant/karaoke bar/convenience-store/church for supper. In general, the greater the number of slashes in a restaurant’s name, the greater the likelihood of walking away with food poisoning. Luckily what the contestants were served could not be categorized as food, so they were saved.

Fourth Leg : Woody’s Point                         Duration : 5 Days

Challenge – Hike until the contestants’ legs fall off or until one of them is discovered frozen in a snow bank.

Commentary – All three contestants made a valiant effort towards the goal. Most notably hiking along cliffs, up an 800ft waterfall and attempting to scale Gros Morne. They got points for skirting avalanche areas but alas no one was discovered in a snow bank.

Woody Point Sub Challenge – Locate, kill and eat a softshell crab

Commentary – Not surprisingly for those who have read Cowboy Cookin’, Unwashed was the weakest link during this challenge, refusing at first to touch the sea creatures and then showing hesitation about pulling their legs off. Mini-Tex stepped right up to the plate, removing legs with abandon and zooming the legless crab body around the dinner table like a NASCAR.

Fifth Leg : Cornerbrook                                 Duration : 2 Days

Challenge – Meet a childhood friend and terrorize yet another cat.

Commentary – Once again Mini-Tex readily met his challenge with gusto, chasing Unwashed’s friend’s cat around the house and then perching on the stairs yelling “CAT! CAT!” when the irritated feline retreated to the basement.

Sixth Leg : Cornerbrook – Grand Falls – Traytown                      Duration : 10 Hours

Challenge – Listen to the Frozen soundtrack on repeat until everyone begins making plans to assassinate Olaf.

Commentary – The crew achieved their goal and was rewarded with a hearty meal of stuffed squid when they arrived in Glovertown although none of them ever want to build a snowman again.

Seventh Leg : St. John’s – Take Two                                            Duration : 4 Days

Challenge – Eat each contestant’s weight in seal.

Commentary – This challenge demonstrated the extent of Tex’s selflessness; upon discovering that seal meat tastes like wet dog fur, both Mini-Tex and Unwashed refused more than one bite. Tex took it upon himself to consume seal flipper pie, seal flipper stew, seal flipper soup and seal flipper sausage. Mini-Tex and Unwashed took to the playground while this was occurring so Tex could eat the goods(?) and then air out the smelly apartment afterwards.

Eighth Leg : Toronto then London, Ont                                    Duration : 3 Days

Challenge – Visit with Grandpa, see real dinosaurs, jet off to London and baptize Mini-Tex in front of a confused congregation.

Commentary – Real dinosaurs were seen with ease, and Ferris wheels were ridden multiple times. Generally children are baptized in front of parishioners who know them. Given that Tex, Unwashed and Mini-Tex are nomads, this becomes challenging.

Ninth Leg : Toronto to Winnipeg                                               Duration : 3 hours

Challenge – Unwashed needs to survive the flight without a working television (Damnit West Jet) while flying alone with a toddler and refrain from sinking her teeth into the arm of a fellow passenger in frustration.

Commentary – There were a couple of close calls with the fellow passengers especially the woman who wore vanilla scented perfume but the contestants survived.

 

So there it is, four and a bit weeks away from home. I won’t be repeating that. Although that’s what I said last time.

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Please Don’t Read This. Go Watch The Canadian Version of C-Span Which Is 50% More Boring Than The American One. That Sounds Like More Fun For A Good Time Than This Blog Post

I don’t know why people like reading these stories. They’re kind of akin to reading a boring person’s diary – “Ate a banana today. Was mushy. Should have made muffins instead.” But here it is, back by head-scratchingly popular demand, an account of our holidays.

Also, for all those who are like “Christmas? You’re writing about Christmas?” Please keep in mind, I have a newborn. All of you will be LUCKY to receive those cards I send out with the reindeer on the front wishing you a “Happy Holiday” in June.

One of the benefits of going to Winnipeg for two weeks last December was Santa. Our town has a Santa. Sort of. He meets once a week for two hours after dinner. And he’s…….. Well he’s….. Our Santa tries . . . .

I don’t know how to put this tactfully because invariably someone from town will read this and be all “Hey that’s my brother/cousin/son-in-law/Dad you’re talking about.” And that is not my intent. I know that the Santa is a volunteer, or more likely was voluntold, but at the same time. . .

Ok, something to remember is, I used to work for Disney. Meaning that I know all about the business we call show. I was not the greatest performer, but I stayed in character, I played the part and I took pride in my appearance and costume. There were countless other performers who were better than me; I watched them, I aspired to be like them and failed miserably. So really, I live in a glass house and am throwing stones. So I encourage you all to chuck boulders in my direction. Aim for the squishy bits- there are lots, did I mention I just had a baby?

Aside from the fact that our town’s Santa’s beard was fake, and that he didn’t have a moustache and didn’t bother to whiten his eyebrows. Aside from all of that, his hairy ankles stuck out of the costume. It wasn’t his fault, but I probably would have borrowed big boots to play the part. He also had trouble staying in character. That and last year, our town’s Santa was totally over eager about inviting our gorgeous au pair to sit on his lap. She declined in case you were wondering.

After that experience last year, I decided that Mini-Tex was going to have a proper meeting with Santa. In October before Christmas, I started Googling places in Winnipeg to meet Santa. Reading this, you’d think that I was one of those super organized mothers. I’m not. I routinely show up late and my son often wears his previous meal on his face in public. And then kisses people. Because he’s a toddler. For serious, someone give me a Parenting Razzie please.

Anyway, I discovered that you can prearrange a meeting with Santa in Winnipeg, meaning that you can skip the giant line. Amazing. Except I couldn’t make the site work. This meant that two days before we were supposed to leave for Winnipeg, when Tex asked me what time we were supposed to meet Santa, I said we didn’t have a time. Remember what I said about being disorganized? Cue my husband logging into the site, making the internet work and arranging a meeting. Only not a good time slot because there weren’t any left.  It was in the afternoon, thus Tex would be working.

Fast forward a week to when I am picking up our little boy from daycare. I explained in the car that he would walk up to meet Santa and the jolly old man would lift Mini-Tex onto his lap. Our almost three year old was good with this. Because you know he treats strangers like jungle gyms and climbs on them all the time. Not actually.

Then I told him that Santa would ask what he wanted for Christmas. Mini-Tex listened with all the focus and intent of someone trying to translate Sanskrit. I had to prompt my almost three year old again to get some semblance of answer about what he wanted for Christmas. Finally he said Mickey. Having been a performer doing meet and greets, I know that the key to a good interaction, is preparation and talking so that nuances of the character can come out.  I was hoping this discussion would lead to a memorable visit with St. Nick.

We get to the mall and Mini-Tex is still wearing yogurt and melted cheese from breakfast. I sent him to daycare like that because I enjoy sharing our son’s meals with the daycare’s dog. So I change him in the family washroom and then slooooooooooowly make our way towards Santa. We are desperately early for our appointment. Absurdly early. The kind of early that I know will result in a wait even though we have an appointment. So even with all of my dawdling, and demonstrating how twenty different snow globes work in the Carlton Cards, we still roll up to Santa’s workshop with twenty minutes to spare.

There isn’t a person in sight. I was shocked.

That’s a lie. There was a lone baby who was finishing up his visit with Santa. I couldn’t believe my luck- I didn’t even have time to take off my coat! So Mini-Tex bravely walks up to this giant bearded stranger and Santa hauls him onto his lap.

The interaction went better than last year. The only reason our son sat on Santa’s lap last year was because our au pair was perched on the chair next to him holding out her arms. So our toddler was all like “Ok, Janey, I guess. But only because I love you like crazy, normally I prefer not to sit next to strange men whose hairy ankles are erupting out of their pants.” And then for the picture Mini-Tex had this look of panic mixed with uncertainty. His face said “Janey, please remove me from this man’s lap. I am very uncomfortable and am 99% certain that this is unsafe. Like I’m not going to call Child and Family Services on you or anything but for Pete’s sake GET ME OUT OF HERE!” His eyes were actually screaming.

This year, Mini-Tex wanted to be on Santa’s lap. Ish. He liked the concept of Santa but was not loving the big man whose red velvet legs he was sitting on. Meeting Santa was important, he was sure about that, the smiling and enjoying the experience part? Well, that wasn’t going awesome. It took a lot of effort on both the photographer, Santa’s and my part to coax a smile out of my ambivalent boy.

In the end Santa gave him the largest candy cane that Mini-Tex had ever seen. (It was a normal sized candy cane but my toddler has only ever received the miniature ones, so this candy cane was extremely exciting.) So my three year old deemed Santa to be pretty neat. That said, unlike the PVC ig-aa-loooo across town, he has not asked to meet Santa again.

I Followed The Advice Of Dr. Instagram And Other Proof That I Am Bad At Life

My name is Unwashed, and I recently developed an unfortunate case of idiocy. I’ve always made poor choices, but this week I decided to ramp it up a notch or eight thousand. Case and point-

I Followed a Medical Recommendation on Instagram

When I die, and my life flashes before my eyes, I have no doubt that this decision will haunt me but the unfortunate part is; I’d probably do it again. There’s nothing quite like being 39 weeks pregnant and hearing your healthcare provider repeat the words “induction” over and over, to make a person listen to the snake oil salesman and say “Sorry? You want me to snort this? Of course! That sounds like a marvelous idea!”

This was how I found myself drinking a “Labor-Inducing Mixture” last Thursday afternoon. Ok not exactly a mixture because our town didn’t have two of the four ingredients required. It was basically just castor oil.

Supposedly castor oil is a laxative. This is not true. Prunes are a laxative. If Elon Musk figured out a way to power a spaceship using poop, people would be orbiting the planet formerly known as Pluto right now on the power of castor oil.

Castorx

Clearly I had a hand in designing the laxative rocket with Elon because Tex claims that the red cap is not aerodynamic.

For serious, dear readers, it was bad. Really bad, but on the plus side, I won’t need to go until May. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all of this newfound free time- take up an instrument perhaps? Or spend it with my new baby. One of the two. Tragically the idiocy didn’t stop there.

I Sent My Husband Away While In Labor

Funny enough, the snake oil worked. But I didn’t believe it because, if a pregnant woman becomes dehydrated, she will experience intense Braxton Hicks. So after trying to send myself to the moon on just biofuels and poor choices, I concluded that I wasn’t in labor and told my husband to go teach German to the kids down the street. Tex for his part knew I was in labor but figured he had five to eight hours and that there wasn’t much he could do aside from standing outside the bathroom door asking whether I wanted to take medical advice from Jenny McCarthy or Tom Cruise next.

I Feel Dead Baseball Player Drugs = Fabulous

After calling my husband back and getting our son to a friend’s, we rolled up to the hospital and I asked for pain meds. “We can give you Fentanyl” replied the nurse. To which I responded “Excellent, the drug that killed all the fat baseball players in the nineties.”

In case you’re wondering, that was ephedrine. Fentanyl is what’s killing the junkies of today. I’m sure that drug also would have been fabulous. Not that I would know, because my labor had progressed too far to take anything, which is unfortunate because this was my only opportunity to wobble around like a tripped out attendee of Burning Man.

I Equate Teenage Lead Quarterbacks with Doctors

The only time I swore during this entire process was when I was informed that a friend’s husband was the obstetrician on call, at which point I dropped a loud F-bomb. He’s a nice man and a good doctor, it’s just flashing your cootch at another girl’s guy is the kind of behavior that can lose you a peer group in high school. It would seem I have zero concept of professionalism.

In the end it didn’t matter, as someone else was on call, and also because

I DIDN’T LEAVE ENOUGH TIME

Like most people, I spend about five to seven percent of my day wondering about women who have toilet babies. Did they not know they were in labor? How did this happen? Well I have the answer- they’re the same women who follow the medical regimens posted by randoms on social media. And I’m now one of them.

Though I didn’t have a baby in the bathroom, there wasn’t enough time for the obstetrician to be called, which is how I found myself looking over my knees at a thoroughly unimpressed anesthetist. I looked at him and thought “Sir, this isn’t what I do for kicks and giggles either”. Only I didn’t say that aloud because he was helping me. Also it would have alarmed the thirteen year old resident huddled in the corner.

Luckily, the on-call obstetrician’s other car is the Millenium Falcon. Or some other such vehicle that moves at the speed of light, because minutes later, she walked in and took over, much to everyone’s relief.

star-wars-millennium-falcon-220300-1280x0

This is a picture of the obstetrician en route to deliver my baby. Only instead of a stoned Harrison Ford at the helm, insert an exceedingly warm, blonde lady. (Photo Credit : comicbook.com)

I Didn’t Pack Food

I woke up in the middle of the night and briefly considered gnawing on Tex’s arm like a rabid wolverine because I was starving. Fortunately my husband must have anticipated this and moved from the hospital bed to the chair, out of my reach. I’m a bit like an alligator that way- hungry, but terribly lazy too.

I Talked Up The Disposable Mesh Hospital Underpants WAAAAAAAAY Too Much

Tex was dispatched to procure feminine products. Being a thoughtful man, instead of purchasing what I requested, he decided to do one better- buy me my own disposable underpants. So if you’re wondering why my butt is making crinkling sounds when I move, it’s because I’m wearing enormous incontinence briefs meant for ninety year olds.

 

Addendum: Tex informs me the resident is NOT thirteen. He just celebrated a birthday- he’s fourteen. My apologies. As a person who once was asked by a gruff French hotel proprietor whether my parents knew what I was doing when I reserved a room for Tex and myself, I probably shouldn’t insult people who appear younger than they are.

I Want To Regret This. I Want To Feel Bad About This Story Because, You Know, I Caused It. But It Still Makes Me Giggle.

In case you missed it, it’s mind-numbingly dull content month here at The Great Unwashed. None of you should be reading this unless you share a minimum of 12% of my DNA. Even then, I’m sure my family has better things to do- don’t you people have children? Or pets?

Anyway, this is another anecdote that happened during our time in Winnipeg. In the St. Vital shopping center, there are these cars you can rent, if you didn’t bring a stroller. No biggie, most places have them. Not our town, but we just got a Dairy Queen, so I can’t complain too much. But St. Vital, they upped the ante- for seven dollars you can rent a double-decker fire engine, which is approximately the size of an actual fire engine, to pilot your kid around the commercial center.

Tex would NEVER spend that kind of money on something so frivolous, even I, who spent half a week’s grocery budget on Santa pictures last December, had a tough time stomaching that cost. This is where grandparents come in, with their spoiling and saying “yes” to every request. Upon hearing about these fire engines, my Dad insisted that we return to the shopping center and rent one- his treat. (Thanks Dad!)

However wide I thought the fire engine was going to be, it was wider. And the cart was so long that I had no concept of where it began so I kept ramming things. Tex kept asking if he could drive it but I wanted the joy of pushing what was in essence a moving playground. And then I’d smack into a display case directly after replying to my husband’s question. If our van is like driving a boat, this was like piloting the world’s largest yacht. We made a thirty second video of me attempting to carefully turn a corner then knocking over a display of items anyway.

It was seven dollars well spent. Mini-Tex was elated and wanted to sit in the high seat. We took it to the play area of the mall after I got a Cardamom French Toast tea latte from David’s Tea. It only occurred to me after the barista had made the beverage to ask whether it had caffeine. It did, hence why I’m typing this at ten o’clock at night instead of sleeping.

Anyway, so I walk out of the store with my tea, and I can see Mini-Tex and Tex playing on the big bridge. As I walk up to the play area, this little Chinese girl spots the abandoned fire engine. Did I mention how fun this thing looks? And so she climbs in. Mom flips and tries to drag her out but the girl is six years old, verging on too big for the seat and nearly impossible to remove. Especially because she wanted to continue sitting in the fire engine.

Mom finally succeeds in dragging the little girl out of the cart, and starts to pull her away from it. The little girl breaks loose of her mother’s grasp and climbs back in. At this point Mom loses it -starts yelling in Cantonese at the little girl. (I assume it was Cantonese because my friend Chastity speaks Mandarin and it didn’t sound like how Chastity talks but then again I’ve never heard my friend shouting hysterically in Mandarin either.) Then the Dad appears down the hall and the Mom starts shouting at him.

The following is what I think their conversation was. For the record Tex (and everybody else nearby) watched this all go down. Tex of course felt absolutely horrible and guilty. Whereas I was simultaneously thinking “It’s ok Mama, I’ve been there too” and “This is comedic GOLD!”

Angry mother to the girl – “You get out of that truck this instant- we raised you to pay for your vehicles not steal them!”

Angry mother bellowing down the hall at Dad – “Your daughter has become a lowly criminal; this is all your fault for needing to use the bathroom. You must come help me now.”

Baffled Dad who was happy a second ago having just emptied his overly full bladder – “Huh? I don’t understand?”

Angry Mother – “You never help me! Hurry! She’s going to drive away with the truck and be arrested and have a police record before she enters elementary school!”

Baffled Dad, who is now indignant and also angry, instructs the girl- “We do not steal vehicles.” Then Dad wrestles the kid out of the fire engine. The couple continues shouting at each other all the way down the mall accusing the other person of being the reason why their daughter is a petty car thief.

As soon as the first girl was forcefully vacated from the fire engine, a two year old girl climbed in. Her parents had two other children and recognized that the fire engine was THE BEST TOY IN THE WORLD so just let her sit there until we said that we were going to leave.

I swear, I can still hear the couple shouting in my head and it makes me smile. Best night ever.

Hypothermia and Pumping Small Children Full Of Sugar- All Of My Best Parenting Decisions

Why are you reading this? Haven’t you heard of the Huffington Post? I swear that is more interesting than my family stories. Even Gwenyth’s Paltrow’s site that suggests women shove jade eggs up their hoo-has is a better read than this. Oh well, your funeral. For the record the coroner will state “Cause of death- boredom”. Here are some stories of our Christmas adventures.

Also for all those who are appalled by me writing about Christmas, first off, I already instructed you to STOP READING. Secondly, replace the word “Christmas” with “Easter” and you’ll be fine. Well not fine, bored to the point that you’re comatose, but breathing.

For our family, Christmas started the weekend that we left for Winnipeg. It was a big town weekend- free movies, free skating, free cookie decorating and crafts, all of this occurred the day of our town’s Santa Claus parade and the tree lighting.

Tex was of course working. Because he always is. But thankfully he wasn’t bothered about missing all the fun whereas I would have been devastated. So Mini-Tex and I headed out to the free movie. The theatre was showing “Smallfoot”.

Mini-Tex LOVES television. He also never gets to watch television. Weekday mornings he gets half an episode of Paw Patrol while my husband showers. It’s to the point that if he hears the shower turn on, no matter what time of the day, he rushes the bathroom like it’s the stage of a One Direction concert and he’s a teenage girl. Then he bangs on the cupboards with his mighty toddler fists and shouts “Paw Patrol PLEASE!” at the top of his lungs. So for Mini-Tex, watching an entire movie was a big deal.

“Smallfoot” was super cute. As always when we go to the theatre, I got him a kid’s combo which includes popcorn, candy and pop. Because I take pride in providing experiences that lack both nutrition and educational content. My favourite part of the movie was glancing over and watching my almost three year old dancing in his seat. He spent the next couple of weeks acting out various parts of the movie. Super adorable.

The Santa Claus parade was very, very cold. But not as cold as last year when icebergs formed in the culverts around town and people transformed into ice sculptures. Like an idiot, I ignored my husband’s suggestion that we drive to the parade because who drives a kilometers and a half? Even when I was five and thought my feet would fall off from being forced marched such a distance; my mother would still insist that we walk.

Consequently Mini-Tex was crying about his feet being chilly by the time we got home from the Santa Claus parade. To make up for it, I let him eat all the candy he got from the parade as dinner because I’m a stellar parent like that. Once he was finished, I then packed him in the car to see the “ig-aa-loooo”. (The igloo house is four kilometers across town and my son’s feet were already chilly, hence the bike was out.)

There is a house with twenty inflatable decorations and an equal number of other lit up, non-inflatable decorations. It’s incredible. They also constructed an ig-aa-looooo out of PVC piping and a white tarp. Gorgeous. And so fun. It’s my and Mini-Tex’s favourite house. For serious, I may take him there every single night that we are in town before Christmas.

A week before the parade, at the end of November, Tex and I realized that we were in a bit of a pickle. When the Halloween decorations went up around town, all our little boy wanted to do was hug them. Every time that he’d ask to make friends with the blow up decorations, we’d say “Not today buddy, you can hug them on Halloween.” Then the Halloween decorations were taken down and the Christmas ones went up. So we’re in the car, and Mini-Tex asks if we can stop to hug the Christmas decorations. I say “No” of course. Then from the back I hear him reassure himself “Not today buddy, you can hug them on Christmas.”

Well fudge.

Barring us going around the city caroling, an activity which our almost three year old would not have the patience for, we would not have a reason to go house to house on Christmas. What was I going to do?

There was only one answer- the cookie lady. When you drive into town there’s a giant billboard with a picture her smiling face on it and three hundred individually decorated cookies form a border.

Not actually, but there should be a billboard with the cookie lady’s face on it. For serious, this woman is a national treasure. I’d write to the Prime Minister about her but based on how our leader’s tenure is going, he’d just ask the cookie lady to put the Mary-Jane in her baking.

For a paltry, tiny sum, Lorna* the cookie lady will make stunning, delicious works of art. People have repeatedly told me that they feel guilty eating something so beautiful when I give the cookie lady’s wares as gifts. Their guilt is of course nothing compared to what I feel when I pay her. And I always include a tip.

So I’ve decided I am going to order some cookies from our resident cookie lady and one night, Mini-Tex and I will head out in the bike and distribute baked goods as a way of thanking people for decorating their homes, then while their doors are open and they’re marveling over the beautiful cookies, we will ask whether our toddler can hug their lawn ornaments. Judge me. Tex and I frequently talk about how I’m the good cop and have a backbone made of fluffed wool. Goodness help me when our son is a teenager.

Wish me luck with our winter blow up decoration adventure. Also send warm socks. We will need them to tromp all over town in the snow and assault our neighbours’ lawn ornaments with hugs and love.

*Obviously I didn’t use the cookie lady’s real name. First off, I don’t want the leader of our country calling her up, and secondly, then I’d have to place my orders months in advance because her phone would be ringing off the hook.

Battling Mixed Martial Arts Prized Fighters and Other Items On My “How To Be An Adult” List

I failed spectacularly, which if you think about it, is the only way a person should fail. Because if you fail only slightly, how much can you take from the experience? But if you fail in a grandiose manner, the kind that has you running for the fire extinguisher, that you never thought you’d need, well, there’s a lot to be learned from that.

I lost my credit card. A month and a half ago. I’d be embarrassed by this but I think we’ve already established that I’m about as responsible as a toddler living in a house of built with jellybeans. Really, it’s a miracle that the roof doesn’t come crashing in on my head on a daily basis as I eat away at the walls of my home.

Today, I decided that enough was enough and called the credit card company for help.

They were not helpful.

Or rather the automated machine which greeted me was not at all helpful because it kept demanding my credit card number which was difficult to provide what with the fact that I couldn’t find mine. Eventually I got transferred to an actual person.

Cheery and nice lady on the phone – “Hi, could I please have your credit card number?”

Unwashed – “About that . . .”

Nice lady on the phone – “Well could you give me the password to the account then?”

Here’s the thing. I used to know the password for my account. It was the same password that I’d used for ten years, but then the credit card company changed servers and declared that the word “password” was not at all a secure password for a person’s credit card. So I changed it, to something that suited their rules but that I couldn’t remember at all. Normally this isn’t a problem because I sit at my computer and try different variations until the system locks me out for an hour. Then I pass the time eating the load bearing sections of my jellybean walls before attempting different password combinations again.

Unwashed – “Uhhhhhh. Is it this?” Says a string of words and numbers. “What about this?” Another string of letters and numbers. “You know what it might be this.” Recites a final combination of numbers and letters.

Nice lady who is sounding less cheery – “Ma’am, none of those match.”

I reach up and nibble on a jellybean support beam from the ceiling.

Unwashed – “I’m sorry. Does it count that I’m trying? Or is that only recognized at three legged races at church picnics? Although I’m kind of good at that. If we were in a field, I’d offer to tie our legs together so you could see what a rock star I am in those races.”

Nice lady who doesn’t sound cheerful at all anymore – “Hold on one moment, I’m transferring you to security.”

The woman who came on the line had a voice that said if you arrived at her office, she’d grab you by the ankles and shake you upside down until the truth fell out.

Slightly intimidating lady who may or may not own a mace and not as in pepper spray – “Hello Mrs. Unwashed, it’s my understanding that you’ve lost your card, have no record of it and do not remember your password. Is this correct?”

I may have gulped audibly and placed both my feet flat on the floor in preparation for being tossed upside down over the phone.

Unwashed – “Yes, that’s correct.”

There was a pause as the woman read what was on her screen.

Increasingly intimidating lady who bench-presses tour bus vans after work and has laughed only once in her life, after that time that she beat up Chuck Norris – “It appears that there have been a number of changes to the account.”

On my end of the phone, I grimaced.

A meek Unwashed – “I’m assuming you mean all the address changes?”

Woman, who moonlights as a prison guard and who has a MMA trophy that she may or may not use as a beating stick for bad clients who lose their cards and don’t remember their information, flatly – “Yes”.

Another audible gulp on my end before I launched into my explanation.

Unwashed in a squeaky panicked voice of a person who will never possess another credit card in her life based on how poorly this conversation is going – “It’s not what you think, I mean I know it looks like I’m some sort of transient white collar criminal who bounces from town to town but really I’m a stand up lady. I mean there was that one time when I was mistaken for a homeless person. But that only happened once. It’s just my husband’s job takes us a lot of places.”

There was another long pause, during which I’m fairly certain the security credit card lady polished her MMA trophy and reflected sadly on the fact that I was too far away to bludgeon – “Mrs. Unwashed, could you tell me the last transaction on your card?”

Unwashed – “Uhhhhhh, was it Amazon?”

Annoyed credit card lady now eyeing the mace hanging from her office wall – “No.”

Unwashed somewhat panicked – “Ummmmm, was it a random French media company?”

Credit card lady swinging the mace around her head with one hand while bicep curling her MMA trophy with the other arm – “No.”

Unwashed in a last ditch attempt to prove that she isn’t a thief – “My World Vision kids? I’m a donor. I feel like white collar criminals don’t care about the well-being of children in third world countries. I swear I’m a good person who doesn’t steal identities. Not a responsible one obviously, but a good one.”

The MMA prized fighter, mirthlessly – “Please hold the line.”

Undoubtedly she was contacting one of her fighting buddies who lives in the middle of nowhere, arranging for them to show up on my doorstep and teach me a lesson about proper care of credit cards.

When she came back on the line, I had to recite every address that I’d lived at the previous five years. Which was no small feat because we move a lot. But I managed to pass the test so now Canada Post strike pending, I should have a new card in one to two weeks.

My In-Laws Aren’t Actually As Awful As My Husband Would Have You Believe: This Is Me, Throwing My Husband Under The Bus

Unwashed- I just wanted you to know my feelings on it. It’s a bad idea.

Tex- I understand your feelings, but isn’t this the stuff that your best stories are made of? Something awful happens to you and then you write about it. Like your shingles post, that was amazing. It’s exactly like that.

Unwashed – I’m sorry, did you just compare attending your family’s Christmas with a form of herpes?

World, I needed you to know that this happened. It was actually better than during our last date night when I was complaining that I was fatter than my last pregnancy and Tex quipped “But yet the baby is only measuring in the 33rd percentile”.

As a rule, with the exception of observations about the size of our fetus, my husband is nice. Like really nice. The kind of nice that when people see us together, they’re like, “Ohhhh, she must be keeping him captive.” What this means, is that no matter how kind I am, I am always the mean one in the relationship, who says terrible things. But this once, I wasn’t.

I was however the one arguing that driving eight hours round trip in one day to attend a Christmas lunch at his uncle’s house, with a three year old perpetual motion machine and a pregnant lady who does vomit fountain impressions in moving vehicles, was not the best idea. I will totally cop to that one. But I was not the person who compared the experience of visiting his family to excruciating nerve pain and a rash so unsightly and bumpy that it would make a person contemplate living in a darkened cave until the spots resolve.

Those tire tracks on my husband’s back? They’re my handiwork. If this doesn’t channel the spirit of the holidays, I don’t know what does.  Merry Christmas everyone, I hope your families are also like a debilitating flare up of Herpes zoster.

 

Also for all of you worrying about the well-being of my smaller than average baby; first off, thank you, but secondly, keep in mind that I’m approximately the size of a twelve year old. And not even a tall sixth grader. Tex and I would have been far more concerned if the baby was measuring in the 90th percentile. Then we would have been questioning whether it was actually our baby.

This post is proof that I am actually the mean one. Tex would never rat me out for comparing my family to an outbreak of blistering sores.

Also, in the end, Tex went to the Christmas get together with our son alone because a day before the shindig, I managed to badly strain a muscle which made sitting, standing or doing anything for long periods of time super painful.

Non Car Accidents and Near Fisticuffs With The Jolly Green Giant

More than the ability to drink staggering amounts of vodka and wake up looking like a daisy that’s sprung up next to a waterfall; all sunny, dewy and raring for adventure, more than the confidence that a smoky eye was EXACTLY what 7 am Tuesday shift at the local sandwich shop called for, more than even my twenty year old metabolism which ran like an Energizer bunny, I miss the recklessness of youth.

Once upon a time, when I wandered around in the buff not because I was out of laundry but because I was young and everything still pointed up, I used to kick banks and snarl at bank managers like a rabid dog, before chasing local, non-rabid, neighbourhood dogs home. And I was interesting. All of this made for easy blog post fodder.

I’ve been lamenting my recent stream of good life choices and lack of eccentricity that motherhood has brought upon me to anyone who would listen. That is until yesterday.

Something you need to know about small towns is; they’re like Roz from Monsters Inc- they have unnaturally short arms and wear cardigans. No. Although there are a fair number of white haired ladies who rock a cardigan every day of the year. No, small towns are like Roz in that they are always watching.

Roz

The ideal next door neighbour. Photo Credit : pixar.wikia.com

I forget the omnipresence of the town. Or sometimes blatantly ignore it and behave badly anyway. And then I see people at the mall and take a shame bath when faced with my crimes against decency. In case you’re wondering, a shame bath is exactly like a normal bath except instead of water, there’s acid. Also you exfoliate with coarse sandpaper beforehand. This is why I don’t go to the mall anymore. Because I see everyone that I’ve ever embarrassed myself in front of. That and I get mistaken for a homeless person.

Anyway, so there I was, just going about my business at the grocery store, like a normal person who’s the size of a twelve year old and dresses like a hobo, when this woman runs up to me and asks “Did I see you riding your bike and giving a car what-for a week ago?”

You know in movies when you are sucked into the character’s eyes for a flashback? It was exactly like that. Only I didn’t get to make out with my deceased husband KJ Apa.

KJ-APA-FLAUNT4

You may judge me for being cougar and violating the “Half-your-age-plus-seven” rule with my imaginary husbands because I’m going to be a worse person later on in the post. Photo Credit : flaunt.com

Nor did I splash on a beach with my fictional best friend Jennifer Garner. No, I was brought back to a week before, when I was cycling my son and his two friends home from a play date.

Now, before my grandparents start freaking out and sending gas money in the mail so I’ll use my car more often, I should state that at no time was anyone ever in danger. It was the biking equivalent of someone cutting in front of you in line at the bank. Irritating, rude but ultimately, in no way life threatening. Which made me that much more furious. Because I would NEVER let someone cut in line at the bank. I would gladly offer for them to go ahead but no cutsies.

Also, I don’t actually go to the bank here because eight months ago, I did something humiliating in front of a teller and now I have to bike to the machines at seven am before opening hours to do my banking.

I digress, so there I was, clipping along at a brisk 10.7 kilometers an hour. This sounds slow until you recall that me+ our bike+ three children = about eight thousand pounds. Or at least that’s how it feels in a head wind- like I’m cycling a cart full of Barnam and Bailey’s oversized animals home from the circus while the bearded lady sits on my shoulders.

A car appears behind me. This is not concerning. If I were in a city, the kids and I would be dead. However if I were in a city, I wouldn’t be cycling at all, let alone with three children under the age of five. Here, in the middle of nowhere, cars give me at minimum a meter, but most often, an entire lane to myself, sometimes more. In return I give them a big smile and tell the kids to wave jauntily at the motorists. And then someone jumps out of the bushes to snap a photo of how idyllic small town life is right after the kids finish asking what the word ‘jauntily” means. Only not actually the photo part.

This car apparently didn’t get the memo, because it sped up to turn right ahead of me. Please note that I had thrown my arm out to indicate that I was also turning right. Dude, was in such a hurry that he HAD to get ahead of me. But not by much, because I had to brake. Gently. So as to avoid a super low speed collision. The other car was also going super slow. Did I mention that I live in the sticks and that no one is in a hurry? Even if they aren’t pedaling what feels like a group of morbidly obese rhinos around?

Minor paint scratches effectively avoided. Even still, I was livid. Red flashed around the edges of my eyes as both my heart rate and legs speeded up.

Once, ten years ago, I was rear ended by a 6’8 giant driving a convertible. After jumping out to inspect my bumper, I stomped my twelve year old sized self over to his car and bellowed at him about reckless behavior and the need to pay attention. (It bears mentioning there was no damage to either car- he merely nudged me.) The NBA sized man slunk down in his seat until he was shorter than me. My boyfriend at that time was convinced I was going to grab the terrified sasquatch by the lapels and yank the guy out of the car. Suffice to say, when I’m angry, it’s a sight to behold. Also, in the interest of safety, you should stand at least ten paces back in order to safely duck the red hot magma that shoots out of my ears.

All of this was over an elderly truck, that I didn’t love, which contained no children in it. However it does convey my passion about road safety.

This right-turn line cutter, made me madder than Paul Bunyan did ten years ago. If this had happened in the city, I wouldn’t have batted an eye. But this was a small town! Who did they think they were? While braking, gently, I started shouting at the top of my lungs. As soon as I had safely turned the corner and no longer needed a free arm to indicate my turn, I began gesturing to reinforce my point.

When the car had turned in front of me, I saw that the driver was in his seventies. I looked at both him and his equally elderly wife in the front seat and thought “I could take him”. Please note that I wouldn’t have roughed the septuagenarian up, after all, I had someone else’s children with me- I needed to set a good example. This is also why I didn’t whip out those choice profanities that my husband taught me last month while fixing our washing machine. Although I’ve been dying to slip the word “tea kettle” in with a string of curse words since then.

I will confess to speeding up with the intention of chasing down this rogue driver. However, with my furious tirade still filling his hearing aids, and seeing my enraged hand gestures, rather than turning into the local senior’s center to play bingo, the man took off towards Main Street.

I quickly looked around to verify that no one had witnessed the event, shrugged it off, then kept pedaling. Afterwards, I promptly forgot about it.

That is until the lady approached me in the grocery store. This is the moment when I realized that it’s not that I no longer commit ridiculous acts, it’s that they’re no longer notable to me. Which is far more concerning. Also, I need to start wearing a wig, or at the very least, stop reaching for the rainbow coat. Much less recognizable.

Get The Angry Villagers With The Pitchforks, You’re Going To Want Them To Chase Me

I close my eyes and all I feel is shame. That painful oozing emotion has replaced all of my internal organs, including the ones that I don’t know where they are or what their purpose is- like my duodenum. (I think it’s by my shoulder blade?)

This is bad. It’s worse than the time I tucked the back of my skirt into my tights at work. Or when the toddler at church grabbed the hem of my dress as I lifted her up to sing the hymns. Or even the time that I forgot to button up my shirt and went out in public. And now on top of my shame, I feel like I need lessons in how to dress myself.

Regardless, none of that compares to what just happened.

I was mistaken for a homeless person.

I blame it on the gourds, which is like blaming it on the rain only better because a person can kick gourds whereas kicking the rain will likely end with flailing on your back in a puddle.

I’ll start at the beginning.

We didn’t have a pumpkin, even though Mini-Tex had been begging for a pumpkin since they inexplicably arrived in the stores on July 10th. We didn’t have a pumpkin because I saw a poster advertising that there would be a massive pumpkin and gourd sale.

Who has pumpkins and gourds? Farmers. Ergo, the pumpkin and gourd sale, though not advertised as such, was likely a farmer’s market. So being a yummy, stay-at-home mummy who wears yoga pants all the time, even when the attire says “business casual” and only shops at organic farmer’s markets, I had to wait for the sale. Because what’s the point of being a yummy mummy who doesn’t shop at farmer’s markets? It’s like being Kim Kardashian without all the naked selfies. Who in the world would recognize that woman if she wore a shift dress and a turtleneck? It just wouldn’t be right.

I mean if the Kardashians all decide to cover up their cleavage and wander around in floral print muumuus, thus forcing pigs to sprout wings and crash through windows like oversized chickadees, that’s one thing, but I for one will not defy convention. Who knows what could happen? Also my husband windexed everything last week- our living room bay window would be the first to break in a flying-pig, world-turnover.

So dutifully, Mini-Tex and I hopped on our bike and headed over to the mall in search of the sale, even though it was cold, and snowing the kind of wet snow that has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It was the type of snow that merely turns the world grey and messes up your hair. I biked around the parking lot in search of the pumpkin sale. No sale. I biked over to the other parking lot. An unnecessary gesture since the other parking lot was visible from the first one but I was leaving no stone unturned. No sale.

This wouldn’t have been a problem were it not for the fact that I promised my son pumpkins. Lots of pumpkins. And if you thought airborne hogs careening into windows was trouble, you have not seen a toddler scorned. It’s like Pompeii only without the nice part where everyone turns to ash, because as a parent you have to live through all the shrieking and then serve supper afterwards.

So we did the thing I dread most. We went into the mall. On a weekend.

In a city, this is a bad idea because malls are chockablock with teenagers who are liable to Snapchat you racing after a runaway shopping cart containing your son. (Not that I’ve done this, and in my defense, it was a windy day.) In small towns going to the mall is the worst idea ever, even worse than Kim’s pink hibiscus muumuu, because you will see everyone you’ve ever met in your life ever. And if you’re me, you will not remember their names, who they are or anything about them. But they will know every single detail of your life.

But in we went. Fortunately it was my lucky day. I saw no one I knew. Meaning that at least eight people saw me and were like “Why didn’t she say hi?” Even better, diapers were on sale. Massive sale. Good news for people like myself who are expecting feces squirting bundles of joy shortly. So I loaded up, forgetting that I had only had twenty bucks on my person rather than my wallet.

So we roll up to the checkout with our two pumpkins and diapers. Behind us in line is an elderly gentleman who had eyed our bike as I parked it. But, I didn’t know him so that was fine.

Now for those of you at home, I need to describe what I was wearing. Does anyone remember the part in Uncle Buck when John Candy describes the hatred his friends had for his hat?

buck-hat

“A lot of people hate this hat.” Photo Credit : enchantedserendipity.com

I was wearing one of those garments. Bright yellow, red and blue, it was nicknamed the circus coat by my friends because it’s so large and garish that at any moment, an elephant sporting a feathered headdress might emerge from its side zipper.

It was my mother’s coat thirty years ago. In the eighties, when looking like a neon walking advertisement for Las Vegas attractions was acceptable. Since then, the coat has acquired thirty years’ worth of stains, some of which won’t come out, along with enough hatred to start a religious war. But still I wear it. Couple that with my weather inappropriate boots which I favor because I can jump into them and the fact that the hems of my capri pants don’t quite touch my boots, I looked, well, odd. And also like the only place I can afford to shop is in the free bins at the local clothing bank.

Now don’t forget that it was snowing, so both Mini-Tex and I were looking a little bedraggled too. And then throw in my reference to the new baby. Also my son’s inherent cuteness. It’s kind of like when street people have a dog. No matter how filthy or questionable the person looks, everyone reacts the same way – “Ooooooo a puppy!”

Anyway, so I get up to the checkout, the cashier rings everything in and that’s when it hits me. I only have twenty bucks and that will not cover everything. It was one of those moments in your life when you’re like “A grand piano could squish me right now, and that would be ok.” All I had to do was ask the cashier to put everything back and I could slink out of the mall with my requisite humiliating mall story that comes with each visit. But no, that was not the fates’ plan for me that day.

The gentleman behind me stepped up and said “Anything this lady wants, put it on my tab.”

I don’t know if there is even a name for the shade of red I blushed. I kept stammering “No, no, it’s ok.” And then the man gently said “I have so many blessings in my life, let me pay it forward.” No amount of reassurances that I was also blessed could convince this man otherwise. The gesture was so nice it was painful. The man’s kindness was especially unbearable in light of the fact that I didn’t need it. I’m a person who can pay for my groceries, despite the fact that I look like a ragamuffin who sleeps in a cardboard box most days.

As soon as I got home, I called my mother. Who of course didn’t answer. So I was forced to call a less sympathetic relative-my sister. “Diana!” I wailed. “I was mistaken for a homeless person!”

“Is this perhaps a sign that you need to shower more than once a week?” my sister observed dryly.

Then thankfully my mom called. Unfortunately, she was also less than helpful; my mother thought that in addition to looking like a homeless person, the man probably thought I was a teenage mother. Which was nice, because I always need reminders that I’m short and talk like one of Alvin and the Chipmunks’ girly cousins, making people conclude that I’m younger than I am.

So there it is. All of my shame. I accepted charity when I didn’t need charity. And now I can never go back to the mall, ever ever again in my life.

Also when I previewed this post with her, my mother shouted into the phone “Fashionable! The coat was fashionable in the eighties!” She wants you all to know that she wasn’t a walking target for Us Weekly’s Fashion Police feature. By contrast today, I am. And ten years ago when I first started wearing the coat. But don’t worry; I’m going to keep wearing that fabric rainbow until the style comes back around in thirty years. It’s a good coat.

Part Two: The Night Of The Living Helicopter Parents

This post continues where my previous one left off. If you do not share a minimum of 25% of either my DNA or aren’t a close family friend, you’re probably going to find this as boring as watching competitive cross stitch competitions. I suggest you bail now. Unless you have insomnia in which case- you’re welcome. Now you can save that Xanax for a night when you truly need it.

After the mall, we quickly hopped back into the bike to go see all of our three year old’s favourite decorations. In addition to hugging the blow up cats, monkeys and Halloween dogs, Mini-Tex of course had to tell each inflatable a story, and ask them questions. Thus started the routine of the evening, where the homeowner would come to the door after hearing voices, then stand and watch as our son mauled their decorations with hugs. The candy bearers were quite patient- they’d stand there for five minutes.

Mini-Tex, having finished his job of hugging the inflatable decorations, would head back to the bike to be ferried onto the next set of blow up decorations to be hugged, leaving the puzzled homeowner to wave their candy at him from the door. One woman even chucked a bag of chips at our bike when she realized that we weren’t going to come to her door. Mini-Tex’s entire raison d’etre was the decorations. The candy was a nice but completely unnecessary addition.

There were at least a dozen houses that we visited where we didn’t even bother ringing the doorbell. We just left. So this totally solidified our son’s assumption that Halloween was all about kissing and making friends with inflatable lawn ornaments.

Something you’ve undoubtedly realized is- I love Halloween. I don’t love getting dressed up. I don’t love decorating my house but I adore watching a parade of little people live out their dreams for one night. I’ve spent many years living in accommodations that children would never visit; above a doctor’s office, in apartment buildings, the list goes on. In the past, I’ve found friends who were willing to host me for the night. “I’ll bring the candy and dinner, you just have to let me squat in your front entrance for the evening” was always my agreement.

In the absence of trick or treaters, I’ve even been the creepy lady sticking her head out the front door when a group appears down the street, yelling at the children “I have candy! Lots of candy!” And it’s true, I heap the sugar upon the little people, like I’m at a costumed strip club and making it rain Hersheys. Wow. I just took an already awkward interaction and made it worse.

I ask every little person, “And what are you?” with all of the earnestness of Mr. Rogers. I fawn, I high five, I tell the trick or treaters how pretty/spooky/imaginative they are. Heck, I even like the sullen teenagers in plain clothes who show up at ten o’clock at night. The point is: I truly love Halloween.

Having now taken an adorable little person around for all Hallows Eve, it turns out- I’m not the only one.

Tex and I came up with a game plan while our son was napping. Start at the mall, bike to the opposite side of the city and make our way back to our house stopping at only the high yield houses. Meaning the houses with either three blow up decorations or more, or the ones with super neat decorations. For example the house with what looked like an ordinary inflatable giant pumpkin but actually played Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and had lights on the inside so the face of the Jack-o-lantern changed making it appear that the pumpkin was singing the music. That was cool. We spent ten minutes camped out on that person’s lawn dancing and whooping it up. We wanted to see every one of those places in town.

This meant that there was a little old lady who watched our trio go from well decorated house to well decorated house on her street. She had gotten into the spirit, but her decorations were small and dated. Also it was getting late. Abruptly, as we were about to walk up her driveway, I insisted we return to our bike and head to a warm place to give Mini-Tex dinner. My husband agreed and we turned around. The lady watched forlornly from her window as we walked away. Once it became clear that we were about to leave, she ran out onto her porch waving a giant bag of candy. “Don’t I get to see the little one?” she cried.

I felt awful. Not just because I had now seen myself in thirty years’ time, but because I was disappointing a woman who was the spitting image of a grandmother stereotype; the kind of lumpy figure that gives out amazing hugs, short cut hair curled perfectly with rollers that she sleeps in and wire frame spectacles. She was even wearing a grandma style sweatshirt.

The problem with driving a bike is that you can’t roll up your windows or make a fast getaway. “Get pedaling” I hissed at Tex as the septuagenarian contemplated whether she was going to run down the street after us. We waved jauntily as we cycled away, watching the poor old lady deflate like a balloon after a birthday party in the bike’s rearview mirror. Apparently there are people who love this holiday as much as I do.

Luckily the hospital where Tex works is halfway in between our house and the opposite side of the city. I was on the verge of hypothermia while Tex was on the verge of a meltdown from too many layers. He quickly shucked a shirt and long johns so I could put them on. In the meantime, Mini-Tex was having the dinner of his life, sausage pieces with a side of Smarties and juice to wash it down.

Juice is not a beverage that makes an appearance in our household. Ever. It is also heavy, relative to chips. It was decided, in the interest of storage space and weight, that we would open every juice box that Mini-Tex had been given up to that point. So for dinner he had a smorgasbord of juice. Between that and the dual parent dressing moment earlier, Tex and I should get an award. I’m not sure which one- whatever the parenting version of a Razzie is likely.

By the time we finished our dinner, it was seven. Reasonable, good parents would have recognized that the evening had been sufficiently fun and called it a night. But as established by our actions, we are not those people. So back into the bike we went, to hug the mummy blow up and shake the hand of the baby monster. Tex wins an additional award for not tripping over the thousands of guide wires securing the nine blow up decorations at the mummy house as he lifted our son from one decoration to another in the pitch black garden.

It was shortly after that when I realize that although we had put out a giant bowl of candy next to our three pumpkins for trick-or-treaters, I had neglected to turn on the porch light because it was four o’clock in the afternoon when we left. Meaning that, at the end of the night, we would return to a giant bowl of candy.

After a quick stop to hug the moving, fake fire breathing dragon, we headed home. Oh sorry, dragon-food eating dragon. Weeks ago, while I was strapping my three year old into the bike after visiting the library across the street from the dragon, Mini-Tex asked me “What is the dragon eating?” not realizing that there was something in the dragon’s mouth, I gave him what seemed like an obvious answer- dragon-food. Then of course we rode by the house and I realized that the dragon was breathing fire. But by then the damage had be done and the fire was henceforth known as “dragon-food”. No amount of correcting could convince our son otherwise.

Tex pedaled us quickly across town and I ran into our house to refill the candy bowl a bit and turn on the light.

OK, rant. What happened to all the greedy little miscreants who empty candy bowls? I was depending on them! Otherwise I wouldn’t have purchased three boxes of treats. I swear every single kid must have respectfully taken one lone piece and left the rest. Who raised these excessively polite children with endless reserves of willpower?  What is our world coming to when we can’t rely on the candy grubbing nature of the youth?

Also, I forgot the part when we stopped at the local nursing home. When my grandmother was alive, despite how desperately painful and embarrassing the experience was due to my toddler’s behaviour, I would always bring Mini-Tex to visit her. Little kids bring old people joy. Small children dressed up for any reason bring lots of joy. So we stopped at the local nursing home. As it turned out, we entered through the dementia wing just as they were sitting down to dinner. Mini-Tex wandered around and said “Hello” to all of the residents. They were delighted. One of them was blind so the nurse described all of our costumes to him.

Then we went and knocked on the individual doors of people still living independently in the home. Tragically most of the residents were verging on deaf and didn’t hear us. (Or didn’t want a visit.) But the couple elderly people we saw were happy. Though they felt guilty about not having candy which we reassured them wasn’t the purpose of our visit.

By this point in the evening, Mini-Tex was still excited but wilting. All the other little people and their responsible parents had returned home. But we continued to cycle around the city because gosh darn it, I was going to get my money’s worth out of that fifteen dollar Olaf costume from Kjiji. Also we had yet to visit the street with the ghost that jumps out of the pumpkin or the house with the spider on the roof.

It was around this time that Tex and I decided to forgo the candy part entirely. People had once again filled our son’s decorative pumpkin basket to the brim and we were running short on toddler energy. After terrifying our offspring by holding him up to touch the peekaboo ghost, we headed for the house with the giant tarantula.

Mini-Tex was beginning to look like Olaf in summer; he became a puddle of costume and snowsuit. “Do you want to see the spider on the roof?” I asked. “No” came his terse, small reply. That was it; we had maxed out our toddler’s love of inflatable decorations. Tex and I concluded that it was time to go home. The problem was that we had agreed to visit friends of ours.

As quickly as he could, Tex cycled past the spider house. In spite of his exhaustion, our son did get out and hug both Jack Skellington and Darth Vader along the way. We quickly popped by our friends’ homes and headed home.

Then on our way home it happened. The event we had been dreading. We live in a small town. Meaning there is a small police force so we NEVER see the police. While we wear our helmets religiously, much to our son’s chagrin, on this night none of us wore one. Wearing a helmet would have mussed my do, prevented Tex from wearing his Kristoff hat and wouldn’t have fit under Mini-Tex’s Olaf costume. Even still, during the afternoon, Tex had placed our son’s helmet in the bike because it is the law for children to wear head protection while cycling.

As we were pulling away from our friend’s house, coming in the opposite direction was an RCMP vehicle. All the colour drained from my face. There was no way with all our lights that he wouldn’t notice our bike. We were going to cap off our perfect night with a ticket. A ticket that was well deserved, but a ticket nonetheless.

The Mountie rolled down his passenger window and I broke into a flop sweat. “Did you get a lot of candy?” the officer asked Mini-Tex. Our toddler had transformed into a catatonic mess so Tex answered for him because I was suffering from the worst case of dry mouth I’d ever had in my life. “Lots.” The officer gave us a wave, “You folks have a good night then” before he continued on his way. It was only when the vehicle’s lights became pinpricks in the bike’s rearview mirror that I could exhale.

Happily, when we arrived home, the candy bowl was empty. I had instructed a group of teenagers that we passed to visit our house and take everything they found there. Old people who complain that kids these days don’t listen have clearly never offered two kilograms of sugar in exchange for walking four streets over.

Unfortunately there was still a full box of treats in the house. Furthermore it was open, so I couldn’t return it even if I did do responsible adult things like save receipts, which I don’t. But, as I went to unplug our inflatable Paw Patrol decoration, I heard voices down the street. “Oi!” I yelled in the direction of the youths. “Trick-or-treaters! Come clear out our candy bowl!”

Then I went back inside, without much hope because you know, kids these days. Likely they were angel children who only took one piece from the bowl. Then, as I was stripping off layer after chilly layer, I heard voices approaching. “Take everything!” I said.

“Everything?” the kids asked incredulously.

“Well divide it fairly amongst yourselves obviously but yes, everything.”

And that was the end of our Halloween. Well sort of. Turns out eating five packages of Swedish Fish will give a toddler a second wind. So Mini-Tex was up for another hour. I am an amazing parent, for serious, where is my Razzie?

Also, I welcome all hate mail about my bike safety decisions or lack thereof on all Hallows Eve. If you’re feeling lazy, you can just put them in the comments.