You’ve all seen the “typical” holiday photograph — that oh-so-unrealistic, but oh-so-charming image of happy children smiling sweetly for the camera. It’s the sort of image that earns a spot on Grandma’s mantle, the sort that makes strangers pause to ooh and aah, a true “Hallmark moment,” if you will.
Like most mothers, I like typical holiday photographs. So much so, in fact, that I ordered both my girls to stop just outside our door, look at the camera, and SMILE for this year’s Halloween photograph. The result?
Baby Bear, bless her heart, was sick and tired. She’d been rudely awakened from a late afternoon nap by the ringing doorbell, seen her sister and daddy going bye-bye, and cried to go along. She wanted to “Go! Go!”, not stand around waiting for Mommy to take a picture.
As for Little Bear, well, she’s familiar with the whole holiday photo routine. And as she watched her baby sister run away screaming, she suddenly realized two things:
- The Photograph stood between her and Halloween fun.
- Getting The Photograph could take a while.
Much to Little Bear’s relief, I realized that a tired, grumpy 18-month-old could not be forced to smile, and opted to photograph my Pirate Princess alone.
Instead of trick-or-treating, we opted to go to a safer (and more fun!) church-sponsored harvest festival. There, Little Bear rode a train, petted goats, played games, bounced in a bounce house, played on an inflatable slide, and collected far more candy than one child actually needs.
Baby Bear enjoyed watching her big sister, but was definitely more subdued than usual … until she saw someone depositing a lollipop in Little Bear’s treat bucket. “Mine!” she declared, catching the lollipop before it had time to hit the bottom of the pail. And with that catch, she was happily entertained for the rest of the evening.
We left the church event in time to stop by our local fire station, where firefighters were giving out candy and offering kids a chance to see their fire trucks and equipment.
“Do you think they’ll let me sit inside a fire truck?” Little Bear asked en route.
“Possibly,” I said. “Why don’t you ask if you can?”
Little Bear has a tendency to be shy in unfamiliar settings, and asking for things takes great effort on her part. But she really wanted to sit in a fire truck. She listened for a couple of minutes as a kind firefighter showed her the equipment on the vehicle, then took a deep breath and asked, “Can I sit inside the truck?”
He opened the back door and lifted her up into a seat where she happily sat … and sat. And then, her shyness vanished, and the firefighter found himself with a new friend. She finally climbed down with the promise of look at his turnout gear. She was amazed to learn that his boots, suit, jacket, helmet, and oxygen tank weighed more than her and her sister put together.
Then, we headed back home where Little Bear was finally able to enjoy some of the treats she’d collected over the course of the evening. I knew she was tired, but didn’t realize how tired until she came running to me and said, “Mommy! Mommy! You know the last piece of candy you said I could have? I’ve lost it, and I can’t find it anywhere!”
“You’ve lost it?” I questioned. “Are you sure you didn’t eat it?”
“No, Mommy!” she replied, almost in tears. “I lost it. And it was really good too. Can you pleeeaaaassse help me find it?”
I was in the middle of something and told her I’d be in to help her in just a minute. As I finished up my task, I heard a sigh of relief.
“Mommy! Mommy! I found it!” she said.
“Where was it?” I asked.
“In my mouth!” she replied. “I must have just put it in there and forgotten about it!”
… I’ve dealt with a lot of missing things over the years, but I’ve never before heard of someone losing something in their own mouth. One thing I was sure of, though — when a child is tired enough to forget a mouthful of chocolate, it’s time for bed!