A Geeky Halloween

These past 3 months I’ve been indulging in watching old boxsets of Doctor Who, covering the 9th to the 11th Doctors. The minxes have been watching some of the less scary episodes – basically everything not written by the brilliant Steven Moffat. Well, I think I’d rather the girls continued to sleep at night than introduce them to Blink and Silence in the Library too soon…

So this year for our Hallowe’en theme we decided to be Doctor Who characters: Maxi, the wannabe teenager, chose Rose Tyler; Midi wanted to be a Dalek; and even though she’s only a bit aware of who they are, Mini dressed up as a Weeping Angel. The Boss made a fine dude of an Ood, and I discovered that my reading glasses made me a passable 10th Doctor. See what you think yourself:

The girls spent all weekend hacking at cardboard and painting it. I loved Midi’s yogurt carton lights on her Dalek head: she put some motion-sensitive lights she’d been given for her trainers laces inside, so that the lights actually blinked. And yes, that’s a plunger and the inside of a paint roller. Maxi’s attitude as Rose just creases me up – perfect! And I’m relieved about my own outfit – originally I was going to wear black teeshirt, black jeans, a black leather jacket, slick my hair down and wear a pair of huge cardboard ears and go as the 9th Doctor. But an hour before I got dressed up, I discovered that my previously-treasured 30 year old leather jacket was covered in mould (ewwwwwwww!)

We were all set to go out guising, but the forecast of heavy rain came true. Drat! Luckily lots of other children came round to share their party pieces and, as well as sweeties and satsumas, were ‘treated’ to the reward of us 5 hanging out the door and having a fake sonic screwdriver waggled at them. We let the minxes eat some of the sweeties we’d bought, as they weren’t collecting their own, and they shared their own party pieces to visitors. We dooked for apples and the girls snouted for sweets in flour. The Boss played spooky-themed music and we 5 danced and goofed around for a bit until the last of the guisers came, around 7.30pm.

Round about then, Maxi had a huge meltdown, and her sisters declared it the worst Hallowe’en ever. No one thing set it off, but I suspect the lethal combination of giving them a small dinner, a lot of sweets, lemonade, the rollercoaster of dressing up, then not going out, then screaming and dancing and playing, all on top of the clocks going back just the day before, so they were all shattered.

The Boss and I didn’t take it personally. Besides, 3 of the 5 of us get to do it all over again at the Cubs Hallowe’en party later this week!



Minxes Think They Know Better

7 Nov 2015

“So, kids, who do you want to dress up as on Childhood Hero day at school this month?” I asked the minxes on the way home from school.

“Midi!” said Mini, straight off. She didn’t even check out her sister’s reaction. Awwww! She really, really idolises her. In fact, this evening we’ve just been treated to a half-hour tantrum because Midi refused to sleep close enough to Mini on the floor. On the floor. Floor. Yep, they’ve taken to making a nest out of blankets and a rug on the floor so they can snuggle up together (bunk beds obviously aren’t close enough). I swear Mini’s going through a phase of Separation Anxiety with her sister waaaaaay tougher than when she went through that with me when she was an infant. Perhaps I should feel jealous…?

Family Skywalker: Queen Amidala, Whining Luke, Princess Layabout and Darth Vader without the mask

Family Skywalker: Queen Amidala, Whining Luke, Princess Layabout and Darth Vader without the mask. Maxi (Harry Potter) took the photo

Dressing Up: we took the kids out guising at Hallowe’en last weekend. It was their first proper time, going from door to door. The Boss and I taught them guising etiquette (only knock once, only knock on the houses with lit pumpkins / porch lights / Hallowe’en decorations, have a decent joke or song ready to go without being asked, don’t be greedy).

We came across a great idea: one mum left a bowl of sweeties outside the door with a note saying, “Sorry, we’ve gone out – please help yourself to sweeties from the bowl”. It was such a great idea that I raced back to the house to do the same thing so I could stay out with the family. Well, I need to be there to complete the set, really, because we went as the Family Skywalker plus Harry Potter: Mini was her favourite film character, Queen Amidala; Mini was Whining Luke Skywalker; The Boss was Princess Layabout and I was Darth Vader (without the mask). Maxi of course was Harry Potter.

Don’t let the cute photo fool you – not 10 seconds before the photo was taken I truly lost my bananas and was a shrieking, cursing shrew with the kids messing around and The Boss not even being dressed.

I blame our morning for my bad temper: the kids had each won their respective age groups at the local library for the annual competition. They’d been invited to the shire prizegiving. Now, I know that the minxes won because they were the only entrants, so I was under no illusions that the prizegiving would result in any further prizes, but I decided to go: it was rare that all 3 could go, plus parents; it would definitely be a different kind of experience for them; there might be a nice wee buffet lunch in it. So I accepted before really looking at where it was. I check the night before. Ninety minutes drive away. Good grief, had I been starving hungry when I accepted, or something?! So we had to leave home at the crack of sparrows on a Saturday morning to find a high school on the other side of the county.

Well, we got there in time and piled into the auditorium. The minxes amused themselves by counting how many people were there – just shy of 200. Busy! They helped themselves to the offered juice carton and biscuit and settled down. The speeches started: a man did the obligatory Health and Safety Here Are Your Emergency Exits thing and introduced a representative from the sponsor. She gave a speech and introduced the next speaker. She spoke for a bit then introduced the next speaker… In the middle of 7 (seven!!) speakers, an author spoke for an hour entertainingly about his books, but I felt that his jokes were pitched at a different level than the average age of the audience – I’m 44 and I’m just old enough to understand references to the shower scene in Dallas. When the 7th speaker came on just to do a Vote of Thanks (what?!) I’d really had enough and felt like kicking the chair in front of me. The audience of 90-odd kids did wonderfully well sitting listening for nearly 2 hours, especially as most were under 10, and especially as the mini juice carton and plastic-wrapped cookie were our lot. The kids all got a goodie bag made up of the prizes they’d already won lots of during the summer reading challenge already.

I understood the goodie bag when I heard the intriguing fact that there were 90 entries to the competition across the county. Hmmmm… the prizegiving invitation was for each prize-winner plus an adult. The hall currently held just under 200 people. I let out a loud snigger – pretty much every single entrant to the competition had won a prize and was here. So there were probably lots of prizes leftover from the not-too-well-supported summer reading challenge. Ah…

Still, on the bright side, the kids got one up on me. They’d been banging on about how they might see F, a little girl they met while we were holidaying in Shetland who lived in the same county as us. “No, no”, I’d insisted: “F lives in a town the other side of the county. It’s a very big place with hundreds of thousands of people. It’s likely you won’t meet F again”. They all folded their arms and looked stubborn. Well, they DID meet F – she was one of the overall prizewinners of the competition! It was lovely watching all 4 girls catch up like they’d all known that they would someday soon. I guess us adults know nothing, eh?

The minxes drew them; The Boss carved them. I think they were really trying to test him this year

The minxes drew them; The Boss carved them. I think they were really trying to test him this year

Which takes me back to Mini wanting to dress up as Midi, her hero. The Boss and I discussed how we might do that. “Put her in one of Midi’s owl dresses”, he suggested. I wondered whether we could get some plastic insects and let her carry them. “Dress her up like an owl and cover her in flies?!” he summarised. Ehhhhh, no.

Owly Nature Girl was in the bath yesterday and came out nonchalantly, blethering away about something or other. Except she had a big house spider crawling all over her bony little chest. She strolled into the kitchen to see me, letting it scurry down her arm and over her hands before she’d return it to her shoulder. “This is Lucy”, she announced (she names all the insects that seem magically attracted to her hands).

“Welllll….”, I warned, “If you annoy Lucy she’ll give you a big nip that will feel like a wasp sting!” Mini winced (she got stung on the cheek last month, the poor wee soul; Midi is still hurt about being stung herself this time last year). Midi quickly shook off Lucy. I insisted the spider stay indoors so s/he could go find its family and live in peace under the floorboards or something. Midi was happy with that, and wandered off to find some poor unsuspecting Daddy Long Legs (aka Plinky-Plonks) to love to death instead.

In other news: Maxi is still being plagued with tonsillitis so took the day off with a quick visit to the nurse in the middle. I finally raised a metaphorical 2 fingers to the speed of her formal education and let her fly free a bit. I just asked her if she knew what density meant. She spent a happy hour discovering the relationships between area, volume, density, mass and weight. We discovered that none of my measuring jugs or scales are very accurate. She likes my analogies of spaceships filled with astronauts, kit, computers, servers, etc. (Don’t judge me. I needed more coffee).

Last night The Boss pulled out his copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (? I don’t know, I’ve not read them yet – I’ve just started Anne of Green Gables on Maxi’s recommendation. She read it aged 5. I’m finding that it’s influenced her character and mannerisms more heavily that I’d realised). He told Maxi she could read it this weekend. So after a late lunch (that she made herself – she astounded me at how capable she was!) she settled down for a bit of a long read at her book. It was just as well – you could tell when the paracetamol was wearing off as she got paler and paler.

Maxi now also has a date for her initial ASD assessment. I’m still not very sure what it’ll involve, but I’m hoping it’ll include a check of the state of her mental health – this week’s shenanigans (not written about as promised to Maxi) have me more convinced than ever that she’s depressed enough to need actual, concrete help from outside the family. Having a mother with a less sharp tongue would also work wonders for her, too, I’m sure.

Anniversary Advice From a 7 yo

Anniversary Advice From a 7 yo

Talking of taking advice from a minx (Anne of Green Gables from Maxi – see above), Midi offered me encouragement and advice on my marriage on mine and The Boss’s 10th wedding anniversary. It’s now on display alongside the gold star trophy award I gave him for putting up with me so long.

Hallowe’en Part 2

Last night the minxes went out on their first night guising.  It was just a short 15 minute visit to 4 neighbours, we were home by 1815hrs, they troughed sweets and chocolate for the next hour, then squealed and shouted and argued on a sugar-rush high until past 2130hrs.  We only got 2 small groups of guisers ourselves.

Pre-sweeties. The post-sweeties photo is much the same, but 7 feet higher, on the ceiling.

At 15 mins till The Boss came home and we were due to go out, all 3 girls suddenly changed their minds about what they wanted to wear out.  Thank God for facepaint close to hand…!  And baggy outfits that you can stuff lots of clothes layers underneath – like Hallowe’ens when I was little, it was *cold*!

At our first neighbour, Maxi and Midi wrestled over who would ring the doorbell.  Midi wished the surprised neighbour a cheerful “Happy New Year!” while Maxi announced, “Hello we’re guising!”  As opposed to just cutting about like a cat.  For fun.  As is customary.  Mini just chanted: “Choc-choc…”.  Only Maxi was confident enough to do her wee turn: she smartly walked down the path to the road where she held her tail and skipped, pirouetted and pretended to tap-dance to the consternation, giggles, then a wee bit of pride from her 2 parents.

Laden with sweeties, we went back up the hill to the next neighbour’s house with the porch light on.  This time Maxi’s dance was more tap-dance and Midi decided to sing.  And how she sang!  Where did my little thug grow such a sweet little tuneful voice?  She sang of a little seed, autumn and Harvest, then ended it with a random 2-liner about how the seed turned into a ghost and ate everyone up.  I think it’s the bad influence of a mother who makes up alternative, ‘funny’ lyrics to nursery rhymes (I defy anyone to keep singing them with gusto and a po-face after 6 years – I need a bit of entertainment now and again…).  At the next 2 houses Midi settled for jokes (typical 4 year old stuff – more a statement than anything vaguely funny) and Maxi threatened to bring down the wall hangings with her dancing.  Mini kept her acting to a simple smile shyly from behind mine or her Daddy’s legs.  Shy?  Brilliant acting – obviously a future Dr Who companion in the making.

Back home, Midi coyly asked if she could eat 3 or 4 sweets.  “OK, just this once” soon turned into “Fill your boots until 7 o’clock, then it’s tidy-up and bath time!”  By the time Maxi’s thick mane was finally almost dry at 9, she was already looking forward to Bonfire Night.  Just like her mother!


The playground and Facebook are full of talk about Hallowe’en.  Even “Are the kids going out guising?” has replaced “Mingin’ weather, isn’t it?” as the usual morning greeting between neighbours.

Guising…  Yeah.  It’s what we’re doing instead of Trick or Treating.  Call me a rabid, old-fashioned, stick in the mud if you must, but this family isn’t going to take on an American tradition that has strong overtones of threats, violence, begging and social disorder (! We’ve got that down pat already, thanks…)  When I was a child, going round the neighbours’ houses on Hallowe’en night, dressed up, was called guising.  You knocked, you showed off your outfit and saw if the neighbour could see through your disguise.  Then you had to perform – a little song, dance or joke (everyone went for joke) – and in return you were given tangerines, peanuts, sometimes sweets and very occasionally some money.

One good import from the States, though, is that the lit pumpkin outside the door has become the Internationally Recognised Symbol of ‘this is a Hallowe’en-friendly house, feel free to knock’.  As the minxes have never been out guising before, we’re only going to knock on the doors of friends and neighbours who I’ve already cleared it with in advance, or people we know with lit pumpkins outside.  I suspect what will happen is that all the families will all be out at the same time and we’ll all just cross on the street.  Maybe I’ll take a sack of goodies with us, then…?

I understand that some Christians have an issue with children mimicking and dressing up as witches.  Actually, I do understand that point of view: it does follow-on logically that if you believe that there is an actual Devil, wreaking havoc in the world, then it’s not great to dress-up and pretend to be one of his followers.  I don’t hold that view, personally, but can see where folk are coming from.  At the school that’s not really an issue because rather than have Hallowe’en parties or dress-ups, they have one of the regular ‘Come As You Please’ days instead.  So yeah, the world and his dog is dressed for Hallowe’en, but the children who don’t want to be witches, devils, scary things, can come in jeans and tee-shirts or as fairies or whatever, and it’s not necessarily for Hallowe’en.

Maxi and Midi wanted to be Harry Potter and Hermione.  Eh?  Sheesh, in my day everyone wanted to be a punk.  That was easy.  How do you turn a girly-girl of 6 into a teenage boy?  The minxes have 2 boxes full of dress-up clothes, but the requirement was for home-made fancy dress.  It’s amazing how satisfied little kids are with some bin-bags, wrapping paper and an old pair of Daddy’s glasses, eh?  And when they’re old enough not to be, they can dress-up themselves.  One thing me and The Boss aren’t going to relinquish though – carving the pumpkin!

Ahhhh, Hallowe’en… the first milestone of fun on the run-up to Christmas.  I might be an old fart now, but I still feel the faint shadows of the excitement I felt as a child in fancy-dress.  Maybe I’ll get busy with the bin-bags, cling-film and face-paint myself later on?  Now that will properly frighten the kids!