We prepped for weeks. Ben had the Halloween drill down cold. We fake knocked on our own front door to practice saying “trick or treat” and “thank you.” We dug his Halloween bag out of storage and explained that it would be filled with candy soon. He stared longingly at his costume, hanging on his closet door and prompting the daily question, “Halloween is today?” He was so sweetly excited.
Luckily for Ben, Halloween came early in the form of a preschool party and costume parade. Not to mention the party in his gymnastics class, the party at the Mom-Tot class, plus Halloween itself.
The class lined up to start the parade, little puppy dogs, fairy princesses and Spidermen eager to show off their costumes. When prompted to join his friends, my pirate meandered over, glancing back at the trucks and trains he would rather be smashing, a pout firmly planted on his face. We walked to the first classroom, full of four-year-olds, parent helpers and teachers, paraded through the crowd, and circled back to the door, ready for the next room. Except for the pirate, who had spotted a train set and decided to ditch the parade.
As his classmates went on to the next room, I coaxed, pleaded, and bribed the pirate to move on. The kids in the class watched as I tried to reason with a two-year-old, and the teachers obviously wanted to continue with their lessons. Ben got louder and more decisive each time he said, “Not leaving.” I finally picked him up, absorbing a brutal kick in the gut and a possibly blown eardrum, and walked towards the door. But before we got there, the sneaky pirate wriggled his way out of my arms and onto the floor, where he proceeded to throw the most epic tantrum I had ever seen.
I looked at Ben. I looked at the teachers. My mind went blank.
I scooped him up, held him so tightly neither of us could breathe, and dashed out of the room. When we were far enough away from the scene of the crime, I put him down. He sprinted back to the train table room, threw himself against the closed door, and continued to wail. I dragged him down the hallway, feeling more and more like The Mom Who Can’t Control Her Child, and wanting to melt into the carpet.
Ben’s teacher and classmates appeared at the end of the hall. He stopped crying, grabbed his pirate hat from the floor, and sprinted over. He grabbed his teacher’s hand, smiled, and asked if it was snack time yet.
I could only shake my head in awe at the classic toddler split personality, and brace myself for the party at gymnastics, the Mom-Tot class, and Halloween itself.