Essentially, I’m going as “myself” for Halloween…
Halloween normally conjures up thoughts of ghouls, goblins, the afterlife, and phobias. The holiday itself is pretty simple: the dressing up, the trick-or-treating, the scaring people, etc. But the underlying metaphors of the deceased seeking vengeance or just acknowledgement, and bringing to light the things in life we most fear, are quite complex albeit common thoughts. However, watching a movie marathon the other night (of course, me and movies, right?), which included The Addams Family and The Addams Family Values, had me linking this Spooktacular celebration to an area of my life I never thought it would intersect: parenting.
Yes, this Halloween season I’ve been thinking about parenting. More specifically how I believe that Gomez and Morticia Addams might just possibly be the ultimate parents. Okay, I know, but hear me out, hear me out. Seriously, from the movies and the early t.v. show (which was amazing by the way), there is a good argument here.
They never shout at their kids. They never force them to be who they’re not. They’re always supportive, constantly giving Wednesday and Pugsley encouragement, and regularly back them up on their ideas no matter how crazy they may seem. If anyone speaks out against either child, these devoted parents immediately jump to their defense while also checking to make sure the kids didn’t, in fact, do some horrible good deed. They put up with the explosions from well-timed dynamite, the science experiments that set the house ablaze, and foster a love for animals by allowing the odd pet or two such as an alligator, octopus, a lively bear (rug), and a poisonous spider, just to name a few. In fact Gomez and Morticia actively encourage Wednesday and Pugsley’s individual hobbies and
eccentric creative interests. They deal calmly with the sibling rivalry that often involves medieval weaponry and amazingly complex booby traps. And like all parents, they wonder if they’re “doing it right.”
In case you don’t remember, in The Addams Family Values, Gomez and Morticia send their kids to a summer camp because they are persuaded by external forces that it’s best for the kids. Of course, it’s a terrible idea and they never would have sent them to a place that didn’t appreciate their umm…individuality… if they hadn’t had a seed of doubt about their parenting skills planted in their heads by the nefarious villain of the flick. So here they are worried, like all conscientious parents would be, just trying to do the right thing by their kids to make sure they grow up properly.
Also, in that movie they showed their vast reservoir for acceptance in the face of diversity. Or at least Morticia did. When their baby is “ill” and turns blonde (gasp!) and “normal” (in the All-American, Stepford, take-you-home-to-meet-the-parents sort of way), Morticia reads him The Cat in the Hat. Mind you, she doesn’t want to. She’s dreadfully sad that all of the characters live at the end. It’s rather obvious that she’d be more comfortable reciting Dante’s Inferno, something from The Brothers Grimm, or perhaps a few chapters from Faust, but instead of trying to force her own personal affinities onto this changeling in her arms, she instead recognizes what he needs and sucks it up with a little Dr. Seuss.
Empathy, love, acceptance, and support. These are the pillars of the Addams parents. I mean, honestly, can you think of a better pair of parental role models?
So. Do you ever look at something that in and of itself is completely benign and straight forward, but taken into context with the memories that item brings to mind can leave you awash with forgotten emotions? At best you feel a twinge of heartbreak or perhaps a smile from some long ago happy day or at worst you’re left blubbering in the seasonal candy aisle in the Dollar General Store in town. Which is exactly where I found myself a few days ago.
Now I’ve never bought candy at the Dollar General Store in my town as I’m something of a candy aficionado and I prefer the “good stuff.” Quite often you’ll find me at the Cracker Barrel for the old-fashioned candy they sell (Peanut Chews, Maple Leaves, and a good brand of old-style Almond Brittle are among my favorites) or I scour the internet for the chocolates I can’t find elsewhere (Ice Cubes come to mind) and of course the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in the outlets near me see my face quite frequently because I admittedly covet their chocolate covered strawberries and other decadent goodies. But I digress. Deliberately so.
Anyway. While at the dollar store, I stumbled across two types of candy that I would often purchase this time of year for my Great-Aunt Bunny while she was in a nursing home. You guys may remember Aunt Bunny, I’ve talked about her before. She’s from the West Virginia crew of Mooney girls who tried the patience of their mother and are now undoubtedly livening up the realms of Heaven.
Well, for Christmas, I would send her this huge care package of goodies that included the best kinds of her favorite candy but other treats as well that she wasn’t supposed to have…but no one could take away from her since it was in the form of a present. This tickled her to no end. We’re talking a huge box full of stuff, it looked like I was preparing her for a trip through the Serengeti. If it was a trip to be sustained on sugar and junk food that is. I took my self-imposed obligation seriously and my search for the perfect candies and snacks to include each holiday started early, probably right around this time of year. Which is why seeing the candies at the Dollar General Store hit me so hard I guess.
Aunt Bunny was never crazy about chocolate although I always sent her a bit…one year it was Chocolate Peppermint Penguins and one year it was Buckeyes, always something different. Mostly her stash was filled with things like Claeys’ Hard Candies of all sorts (licorice, lemon, horehound, rootbeer), old-fashioned Ribbon Candy, a type of old-style hard candy as shown in the photo below, peppermint sticks, Divinity, Maple Leaves, and, because it couldn’t be all sweet-stuff, I’d include pork rinds and the like as an extra tasty treat. Bless her heart, Aunt Bunny always tried to eat everything immediately, but eventually she had to hoard it and ration it out piece-meal so as to enjoy it longer. Although I don’t think it ever lasted much past the New Year.
I think I enjoyed finding the items to include in her goodie box as much as Aunt Bunny enjoyed eating them. I won’t be doing it again this year.
And that’s how I ended up a teary-eyed fool at my local dollar store. I’m sure I was a sight.
Strangely enough, I had a dream about Aunt Bunny the next night. She was giving away all of her things. Something she routinely did in life – we couldn’t leave her house on a Sunday afternoon without being burdened down with food, drinks, some knick-knack or another. She never wanted someone to leave empty-handed. At least not us. It became a running joke in my family. I miss that joke. I miss searching for Claeys’ Hard Candies. And I guess for a while, I’ll be avoiding the Dollar General Store.
There’s a saying that goes “the best tricks are the old tricks.” At least I think that’s a saying. I might be coming up with that one on my own. And if so, consider it hereby trademarked.
I thought of this phrase when I ran across the picture below. Of course no one really thinks that they’ve turned into their mother. In fact, that would probably be the cruelest thing you could ever tell a ‘tween girl. It’d send her running for the hills in fear…and most likely tears.
But guess what…it’s sort of true. I blame the kids. Yup. That’s right. Just as they drive us to moments of insanity, I think our children drive us to become our parents — mothers especially. We Moms may start out with the best of intentions, but let’s face it. We all start to sound alike after a while regardless of our “I’ll never do things the way my mother did them” mentality.
Classic phrases like “because I said so,” “go ahead, keep it up,” or “try me,” and “don’t think I won’t do it” (usually said when threatening bodily harm that rarely actually occurs) are tried and true comebacks that get results…oh, not because they make any kind of sense whatsoever, but rather because they are the debate stoppers in every mother’s toolkit sure to deal with a kid that’s in Brat Mode.
Yes, our children goad us to a level of inanity that beggars belief. And yet, here we are, babbling absurd phrases like “yeah, well, if Holly jumped off a bridge, would you??” and “don’t put that in your mouth, you don’t know where it’s been,” and “if you must kill each other, for god’s sake, go outside!” (for moms of more than one), or my all-time favorite “don’t come running to me after you break your leg on that [insert skateboard, bike, 4-wheeler or other unwanted item here].” Of course that’s when we’re not standing there like fools counting down the fuse to an imaginary time bomb to some horrific, albeit as yet unknown, punishment that never materializes.
The mother’s curse works. Namely, I hope you have children who act exactly like you act. That’s why all mothers end up sounding exactly alike. It’s the children. It always comes back to the children.
So, yes, sometimes when I speak it’s like I’m a ventriloquist doll with my mom behind me working the mouth lever. The thing I’ve come to realize now is that this is not a bad thing. We may have different perspectives on life. We may still hold conflicting viewpoints on any given day. But by and large sounding like my mother is okay with me. Need proof? Just look how awesome I turned out!