I volunteered to read at my daughter’s school the other day for their Halloween event. They do a lot of really nice events for the kids and they have a lot of property around the school including woods so on Halloween they have parents come read stories to the kids out in the woods. I thought since I am no longer at a nine to five job, this would be a great time for me to get more involved, so I signed up to read. I picked my book – The Night Before Halloween which is about a witch and a bunch of monsters getting ready for all of the kids to come trick or treating and when the kids finally do they are scared of the witch and monsters and they run away. It’s a cute story for the littles, and not too scary. I received an e-mail from the coordinator of the event not to bring any food treats and that other treats were not necessary – that the kids were happy just to have the readers there. I was relieved by this because I didn’t really have a lot planned. I had a book and a costume and few blankets.
At the last minute, the event was moved indoors due to the cold and rain that was approaching. I thought the kids might be disappointed by this so my first reaction was to soothe them with some kind of treat. As I was getting myself ready in my witch hat and cape I decided I would run over to Target and grab some little plastic vampire teeth or toys. I rushed back to the Halloween section which was picked bare, so I headed down to Michael’s and found their racks empty as well. Oh well, I would have to be enough for the kids. I was already sensing the giant F on my mom report card.
I arrived at the school just in time to watch the other moms carting in props and buckets of glow sticks and other little bits of Halloween garbage. I was out of my league for sure. As we all walked in, another Mom offered to share her glow sticks with me but I declined, a choice I would later regret. I held my blankets tightly and walked to my designated room. And there stood my little angels – my grade five helpers. They said “what can we do?” I showed them the story I was reading and they decided they could act out the story as I read. I thought this was a great idea! We ran through the story a few times as they rehearsed when they would jump out and where they would perform. My story was quickly becoming a play with a few little fifth grade stars. We got to work making a few props and laying down the blankets for the kids to sit on.
Our first group arrived and huddled up on the blankets, waiting for their story. It was a group of pre-k kids with painted faces and homemade costumes from the morning events. They listened intently to the story and watched the girls act out the book in front of them. They giggled at the right spots and jumped when the girls popped out from behind a desk yelling “boo!” They were having a good time and I was starting to feel like my big F was morphing into a B until the end of the story came. The hungry little tiger in the first row jumped up, marched up to me and shook his little brown paper bag (a handmade trick or treat bag) at me. I looked down into the bag already half full of little plastic vampire teeth and bouncy eyeballs thinking I really should have grabbed a handful of those glow sticks. I looked at the teachers trying to wrangle the children into a line and muttered “I don’t have any treats”. One of the teachers quickly started to get the children in line stating “not all of the stations have treats” while the other looked at me with pity and said “I wish they would just do away with the treats altogether”.
Once the first group left, my helpers and I were left alone. I told them how another Mom had offered to share her glow sticks with me. One of my helpers ran quickly to her room to find the door closed and a room full of children engulfed in a story. It was okay, we would just be the station with no treats. Our performance would be enough to keep the kids happy. And so we stepped up our game a little for each new performance. I read with a little more energy and the girls made more props and added new parts for each new group of children. By the fifth group of children a helper from another station joined us. She said she was kind of bored since her only job was to pass out treats. We now had three actresses and a pretty good set of props. By the time the final group of children made it in, my girls were ready for their Tony’s and I was ready for a nap.
As I was walking out with a few of the other Moms we laughed about the amount of garbage the kids would be bringing home with them – or as one Mom aptly named it “landfill”. I told them about my helpers and how they had saved the day for me as we lugged out their props and empty containers of landfill. We talked about how the kids looked forward to being a fifth grade helper and how it was a big deal for them. I got into my car giving myself a solid C for the day – I may not have been a hit with the littles, but my helpers had a lot of fun. And now I know what to do next year – bring buckets of treats and scripts for the helpers.