I abandoned my principles on Monday, along with my scruples, my dignity and my pride. On Monday evening I went from solid, upstanding dad, to lowlife, begging, loser. It was really quite pathetic, but totally worth it.
As you probably know, my youngest son is in his fourth week of being confined to a Spica cast in order to heal his broken femur. He is dealing with being confined to his cast far better than his mommy is dealing with being confined to the house with him, but that is a whole other topic, and one I can’t really get into with you, for fear that she might kill me. Seriously, she’s that stir-crazy. Anyway…
All three boys were planning to be matching ninjas this Halloween. They already had their costumes, but when Son Number Three broke his leg and ended up in the mother of all casts, we talked pretty seriously about just getting four feet of gauze and covering up what was left of his skin, and going with “mummy-boy.”
He wasn’t having any of it. He politely explained to his mother that he would be a ninja, just like we had planned, because that was what he wanted to be, and also, “Mummies can’t pee.” We couldn’t fight our way through that iron-clad logic, so ninja it was.
Despite being completely rigid from the armpits down, he actually still fits in our stroller. We had already sold or donated our entire armada of strollers except one, which I had been constantly tripping over and cursing in my garage. I happily pulled it out of retirement when we realized he could “sit” right on the front edge. His cast is too wide for him to go all the way back into the seat, but if we stuff two bed pillows behind him he can kind of recline at a 30 degree angle with his leg sticking straight out in front, like a fiberglass battering ram. Cross your fingers that the miniature plastic stroller seat belt holds tight, and presto, movable child.
On the big night, my wife basically just sort of tied his black and red polyester ninja outfit to his cast. He was able to wear the torso portion and the ninja hood, but the legs of the costume were only able to lie on top of his legs. Fortunately, the costume came with ninja leg tie straps that I assume were supposed to simulate some kind of really inconvenient ancient Japanese footwear. On a normal five and six-year-old boy, they stay tied to their calves for about two minutes, then drag on the ground tripping the so-called ninja the rest of the time. On a three-year-old in a Spica cast, however, they are really handy for attaching the costume to the legs. A couple of black socks, and he was a mini ninja in a stroller. You almost couldn’t tell he was in a cast. That turned out to be the problem.
We set off into our idyllic suburban neighborhood to trick-or-treat. As we moved farther away from our house and our neighbors who already knew about Son Number Three’s leg, a strange thing began happening. My two ambulatory sons and their cousins would run up to a door, yell “Trick or treat,” get their candy from the smiling suburbanite, and make their way past Number Three and me who were last in line. The once naturally smiling homeowner would then force a smile, and almost reluctantly hand over another treat to the little ninja in the stroller.
The strange looks and forced smiles continued as the evening progressed, until I paused and assessed our situation. I came around the front of the stroller to take a look at my passenger. He was in good spirits and having fun, and his costume was staying in place nicely. That’s when it hit me. My wife had done too good a job of covering up the white cast with the black fabric. Standing there looking at him objectively, he looked like a perfectly normal three-year-old boy. A big, healthy three-year-old boy who should be walking, but instead was being lazily chauffeured by his ever-accommodating father. A boy at your door, lounging on two fluffy pillows, who couldn’t be bothered even to sit up from his slightly reclined position to accept your free candy.
Not wanting to continue to receive what I now understood were looks of scorn, and not wanting to have to explain our situation at each door, I simply removed the sock from the fully-casted foot, and adjusted the ninja pants a little, so that people could clearly see that his foot was in a cast. That should do the trick.
Holy cow, what a difference. We went from, “Taking it easy tonight, huh?” to “Oh, bless his little heart! Here, have five pieces of candy and a balloon.” It was a whole different world.
Things started to go downhill, morally speaking, from there. I have never been one to play the sympathy card, but the sheer increase in candy output we were seeing from the little bit of cast showing was astounding. Then the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups started showing up, and I lost all sense of decency. I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and the freer they are, the better they taste.
I don’t want to relive my downward spiral of shame and peanut buttery goodness in too great a detail, so let’s suffice it to say that by the end of the night I had the entire cast on display, a three-year-old who was trained to say, “It just hurts so much,” whenever I said the code phrase, “little trooper,” a stroller underside cargo basket loaded down with 45 pounds of candy, and no dignity left whatsoever.
Was it worth it? Were the endless peanut butter cups worth the price of my soul? Absolutely! Dignity is overrated, but Reese’s can’t be beat.
All I can hope for is that Son Number Three is too young to remember the lesson he was taught by his unscrupulous reprobate of a dad. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go buy his older brothers’ silence with some more of my Kit Kat bars and grab another peanut butter cup from my stash. Man, those things are good!
See you soon,
Copyright © 2011 Marc Schmatjen
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