When my son was in first grade, he was the smallest kid in the class. So when a bigger boy invited him to go trick or treating chaperoned by parents, I said yes, glad Steve was making friends at school.
Steve wanted to be a pirate. I can’t sew a stitch, but I rustled up a white shirt, a red bolero, stuffed his jeans into his rain boats and penciled a curly charcoal mustache under his snub nose. My piece de resistance was the pirate hat created from stiff, black cardboard, cut into the right shape, stapled together, and sporting a fancy skull and crossbones decal. When his friend arrived on our doorstep, Steve grabbed a paper bag with handles, dashed into his room, then came back and went off with them. I took his younger sister, dressed as a fairy, around the block.
Therefore, I was gone when the first calls came in from the friend’s family. “Is Steve back yet?” they said,“We can’t find him.”
Since this happened before cell phones, it was quite a while until I talked to them and realized my son really had gone missing. My husband was on a business trip, so I bundled the pink fairy up in her winter coat and went outside calling for Steve. Soon, neighbors joined in the search, but there was no sign of a very small pirate.
Desperate, I put my daughter into her car seat and jumped into my old Ford. As I started to back down the drive, I noticed someone approaching and opened the car door to check. And there he was, a bedraggled little fellow, dragging a heavy pillowcase behind him.
“Steve! “ I rushed to hug him. “Where have you been?”
“Trick or treating; what do you think?” he said, pulling away from me. “It’s Halloween, Mom.”
I looked down at my little man, his charcoal mustache smudged and paper hat askew. “But you left your friends. They’ve been looking all over for you.”
He pulled out, not the paper bag I gave him, but the stuffed pillowcase from his bed “Look,” he said with pride as he opened it up.
I stared in. Hershey Bars, Skittles, lollipops, packages of raisins and bubble gum filled the case almost to bursting. As I gaped, my son said with great satisfaction, “You get a lot more stuff when you’re by yourself.” A beaming smile. “People feel sorry for you.”
And no, he didn’t grow up to be a psychologist, a con man or a politician.
Picture from openclipart.org