With our attention slowly shifting to all things Halloween, Austin has been exploring what it means to be affronted with “scary” things…on our walks, at the grocery store and in others’ homes. I’m grateful for the plethora of other autumn-themed items but I struggle with the irritation I feel walking into something seemingly benign, like Sam’s Club, only to be greeted with bloody-mouthed vampires and cackling witches with red flashing light eyes. Nightmares and terrors are not the new tradition I’m hoping to add and I feel wholly unprepared for addressing giant spiders and flying monsters with my small son. Seriously, I’m trying to help him *not* be scared by the spiders he sees everyday.
So when asked to explore the characters and stories of Halloween and try to explain an abstract and historically loaded holiday to my concrete 3yo, humor does the trick. Austin asks me, “Mom, what are ghosts?”
What are ghosts?!
My analytical brain immediately goes to the dynamics of physics and the supernatural, to reality shows with night-vision cameras and mysterious wisps of ‘smoke’. I tell him I need to think for a minute. I have to dig deep down to even remember what the concept of “ghost” is that is presented to kids. So, in the absence of knowing the ‘right’ words, I ask if he’d like me to pretend to be a ghost. Absolutely.
While searching for appropriate ghost attire, I settle on a lighthearted description. “Ghosts are all white and are so silly! They’re always trying to mess with people! And they can do cool things like be see-through and go through walls. They like to surprise people and say, ‘Boo!’ and play chase while making silly noises, “Wooooo…ooooooo!” I proceed to toss a silk over my head and wander drunkenly around the living room, wooing this way and that and periodically peeking from beneath my shroud to wink and say “Boo!” with a laugh.
He laughs and requests and encore! Phew.
Now he loves ghosts and associates the silly floating sheets with Halloween. After seeing our neighbors put up ghosts in their maple, he informs me that our trees need ghosts too.
So we make ghosts.
Out come some small plastic trash bags and rubber bands. Austin’s mission is to retrieve 6 balls from the ball bin…one for each member of the family. We’re going to make a ghost family just like our family. All the fun of balls and ghosts together! When done we find that winging them through the air like meteors in a meteor shower turns out to be even more fun than making or hanging them, with little plastic ghost tails zipping willy-nilly over the lawn!
Each bag is stuffed with a ball and rubberbanded in. The bottom is cut shorter for the two kids to make them “kid” ghosts. We find some old clothesline on the back deck to string across the trees, and finally each ghost is given a face for each family member. Baby Gabey, who daily checks to see if gravity has released its hold on him and consequently has a scab or two on his face at any given moment, even his little ghost has a scar!
Each ghost is threaded onto the line with the rubberband and popped like a chinstrap around the ball to make them fly properly. Now a little ghost family has taken up residence under our spruce trees! Nana ghost, Papa ghost, Daddy and Mommy ghost, and even the little boy and baby ghost.