“What do you mean you’re not going trick-or-treating?” I respond after my newly-minted high school freshman informs me that she and her “crew” won’t be hitting the streets in costume begging for candy this year. Can’t be. How did I get here? Seems like just moments ago I was ordering the cute, little pig costume — size 0-3 months from Chasing Fireflies— chosen after seriously scouring EVERY SINGLE CATALOG OUT THERE. All to find the perfect costume for my first-born baby.
I remember each costume that followed the little pig. The adorable lobster (my favorite), then Elmo. She chose this one which turned out to be a disaster when the other little kids at the library parade kept coming up to her thinking she was the “real” Elmo — duh— like the real Elmo has bangs and the face of a 2 year-old girl?
Fast forward to the princess phase (loved this one!) — Belle, and sticking with the Disney theme— a High School Musical cheerleader. Little Red Riding Hood. An M&M. Starbucks Barista. And so on and so on.
Year after year searching through catalogs and websites starting in August to finally settle on “the one.”
And so, I ask again — how did I get here? Gone are the days of pulling the red wagon with grown-up “treats” and “witch’s brew” for the parents while we followed our little ones as they ran up ringing doorbells barely able to contain their excitement, their faces shining as brightly as their glow-sticks. Well, now that “little” one is a little woman — choosing to celebrate October 31st in another way — staying home with friends. And, while the plus side is they can answer the doorbell while we’re out with my youngest, it still makes me a little sad. It’s not so much about the trick-or-treating — as I said, I still have a younger one (my baby!) who’s out there in full costume. It’s more about what it made me realize. We’re entering the final stretch. We’ve started the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter of at-home parenting. Ok, so how did I go from Halloween to the end of a football game? Well, yesterday, while getting a little sentimental over having one less trick-or-treater, I was thinking that the 18 parenting years before your child heads off to college really can be broken down into four quarters:
1) Babyhood and pre-school years (Elmo costume)
2) Elementary years (an M&M)
3) Middle school (a Santa group costume)
4) High school — (aka the 4th QTR - Staying home)
And so, this year my girl is having a few friends over and watching scary movies and handing out candy. AND, at the last minute, the girls decided to dress up!. Phew! Perhaps they’re not quite ready to let go of those childhood years either. So maybe she didn’t search two months to find the perfect costume and it’s not Belle or Elmo (In fact, it’s a cute idea called “Secret Spooky” where they draw names and surprise that person with a costume they picked out for them) but I’ll take what I can get — and at least I can still get another year with the annual Halloween pic of my two kids together!
We’ve entered the 4th QTR and with that will come many firsts — first date, first broken heart, driver’s permit (yikes!), driver’s license (double yikes!), college tours and a graduation. And, while I get a little weepy looking back on that adorable piggy pic and remembering the Elmo “incident,” I’m so very excited to share these moments or minutes of our fourth quarter together — but I can’t lie, I’ll be calling many time outs and will try to slow down the clock as long I can.
Beth Kneebone is a partner in and editor for The Pickup Line newsletter -- a daily newsletter and podcast for moms delivered while they have a few free moments on line at school and sports pickup. To subscribe, visit www.thepickupline.net or text PICKUPLINE to 22828. She lives in Chatham, NJ with her husband, two daughters and dog Tucker.