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Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Revisited

For those of you who have followed me for 5 years, this is a reprint of my memoir of the last Halloween I went trick-or-treating with my daughter.

Halloween Memoir

For twenty years, I have bundled up precious cargo, hopped into the car or walked through a neighborhood, and participated in the ancient ritual called Halloween. I have never objected to its horrific side. I just ignore it and enjoy the excitement children exhibit when faced with large amounts of free candy.

The first year I lived on a farm, I bought bags of candy and waited for Trick-or-Treaters to appear, as they had in my suburban hometown. What a letdown! Not one goblin showed up. People on farms have to make appointments or they will pass each other in their cars. There are side benefits, however. Grandmas and neighbors make up for fewer stops by giving large bags of homemade cookies as well as full-size candy bars.

My favorite Halloween was in 1989. I had moved back to my hometown with three children, two hundred dollars and a college education. While looking for a job, I was a substitute teacher in five school districts comprised of more than fifty schools. With traumatized children and anxious parents, I cried every day over the loss of a farm, friends and my previous job. It was hard to get up in the morning, and the days didn’t get any easier.

October 31 came and we went trick-or-treating in Grandma’s neighborhood, where I had grown up. A transformation had occurred in this quiet middle class section of town. Decorations abounded in the yards, including strings of Halloween lights. One neighbor dressed up like a witch and cackled at the children from the top half of a Dutch door as she dropped candy into their bags. The weather was so warm we didn’t even have to wear jackets, and leaves crunched under foot as we walked. Friends walked together and greeted each other as children eagerly ran up to doorbells and gave their personalized rendition of “Trick or Treat.” For the first time since my loss, I had a sense of community. The children had never gotten grocery bags full of candy before. Although they always missed their father on holidays, they were pretty happy with this turn of events.

The weather didn’t always cooperate on Halloween. In 1995, the weather was the worst I can ever remember. In a pouring rain with a wind chill reading of twenty-nine degrees, I let my youngest child (aged 12) talk me into circling two blocks. The following week, she was sick. I am glad I went, however. The following year she preferred a junior high party to trick or treating. Had I known it was my last trip, I would have enjoyed it more.

©Linda Wallin 1997

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Summer Classes for Gifted Children

I love my job at Summer Wonders! I teach Lego Robotics to children from first through eighth grade. Not all of them are in the same room at the same time, thankfully. The quote of the day was from a second grade girl who was frustrated with the "little kids" at the allergy table. She said, "The trouble with this community is that we are too diverse." She then tried to explain that people with different allergies all eat at the same table, so someone with dairy allergy could sit next to a peanut allergy and they could bring the food the other was allergic to. Of course, the Center for Gifted in Glenview makes sure no one brings any of those things. The people who run this program are incredibly talented and caring. I have been grateful to be a part of it.

I have to say, however, that I was a bit surprised at the perception of this second grader.