Monday, November 30, 2009

Healing the Outer and Inner Self

This weather is so bizarre, even for Southern California. Today it was at least 80 degrees (F) outside. It's nice that it's warm, but it's also annoying because the warmth is due to Santa Ana conditions and the air is extremely dry. This is exacerbating the kiddo's incredibly chapped hands. I tried putting Aveeno lotion on the backs of his hands today and he cried because it burned his skin. I thought the culprit was the dimethicone in the lotion, but later I tried to put regular lotion on his hands and that burned, too. Poor baby! His hands are just so cracked. Both times today, I wound up putting straight Vaseline on the backs of his hands; this doesn't hurt him at all, but it's kind of messy, as you might imagine. I'm wondering if baby oil gel would be a good middle ground for a while; we'll try that tomorrow. It's clear that he needs something we can put on his hands at least three times a day without causing him pain, until his skin is healed enough that we can use a regular good lotion/barrier that'll not only moisturize his hands, but also provide some protection from moisture loss. (Mime, I like your suggestion, in your comment on the previous entry, of using Chapstick on one's hands for protection, and we're going to graduate to that! Thanks!!)

I also talked with him about the way he washes his hands -- rather, about the way he doesn't dry his hands. He washes his hands kind of a lot, probably largely due to all the handwashing talk he's heard in regard to cold/flu prevention. That's a little problematic in itself, but the other thing is that he doesn't dry his hands on his towel, preferring to let them drip-/air-dry. (You can imagine how I love having water dripped all over the place, which is another issue altogether.) The problem with letting the water evaporate from his hands is that his hands wind up drier than ever. Argh. I showed him how he can gently blot -- not rub -- his hands dry with his towel, and explained that this will help his skin somewhat. Still, we have to continue with the lotion/barrier.

Oddly, not only did the kiddo's dad NOT use lotion on the kiddo's hands, he used hydrocortisone and HYDROGEN PEROXIDE. WTF?? The kiddo's knuckles are cracked and even the skin on his wrists is chapped, so the guy puts hydrogen peroxide on it?? No wonder the kiddo's skin is looking so bad.


In other news, the mother of a part-time co-worker (the husband of our custodian) passed away on Thanksgiving. She had throat cancer that had spread to other areas, and her death was not unexpected, but I believe it's not possible to prepare completely for that sort of thing. My heart goes out to him, as his mother was also a good friend of his. According to our custodian, her husband and his mother were able to talk about things he can't talk about with some other people -- intellectually stimulating stuff that's over most people's heads. It's quite a loss for him. I said a few words to him today when I saw him, and I fear I might have sounded like a douche. I started out saying the right things and listening, but then my awkwardness got the best of me and...I should've quit while I was ahead. Note to self: That inner voice that says, "Stop talking"? PAY ATTENTION TO IT. *sigh* Of course, I may be exaggerrating my faux pas; nevertheless, I feel he and I have a friendly relationship and I plan to apologize for anything I might have said that may have sounded...glib. Argh. I cringe. I hope my fears are unfounded.

Photo courtesy of my sister. Taken near the Cabrillo Monument, San Diego, CA.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tiger Who?

Yeesh. Why doesn't everyone just leave Tiger Woods alone? The Florida state troopers already told him he's not legally obligated to make a statement about the crash, so how about they quit hounding him and let him fix whatever needs fixing (marriage, fire hydrant, whatever!). They already said the accident wasn't alcohol-related, so it seems the thing to do would be to MOVE ON.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Know One Person Who Really Is
a Cotton-Headed Ninny-Muggins *

This eviction/moving during the holidays that my son's dad has initiated is kind of taking its toll on the kiddo, who doesn't understand what's going on and who feels stressed out by the uncertainty of the situation. To make matters worse, his dad hasn't spoken about it with him at any length, although the kiddo says he's (the kiddo's) brought it up.

Tonight the kiddo came back from spending the holiday at his dad's house. They had a lot of fun and ate Thanksgiving dinner on a yacht. The kiddo also finally mastered riding a two-wheeler, which is great, considering we don't live in an area where practicing such a skill is convenient (busy streets, lots of hills, etc.). He's so proud of himself, but later he told me, "I'm sorry I learned how to ride a two-wheeler without you, Mommy." ?? I told him it was perfectly fine with me, and after he gets really good we'll go for a ride together. He liked that.

But the kiddo had a meltdown when I casually mentioned I'd looked at some apartments today. He's very sad he won't be getting a "little brother" (I'd considered moving in with a friend and her little boy), and it stresses him out that his parents have such different approaches to the same subject. That is, he's stressed that I talk about things and his dad won't. Mind you, I'm not laying my feelings on the kiddo or constantly talking about the move as each development happens. Nothing of the sort. However, when the kiddo asks me a question, I answer it. It seems that his dad does not.

The kiddo mentioned a week ago that he'd told his dad, "You made Mommy cry when she got the eviction notice." Then the kiddo told me he thought it seemed like Daddy regretted that. I know his dad well enough to know what his responses will likely be to certain things, so I asked the kiddo if his dad had made a sad face. "Yes!" he replied. "And he also said 'aw'." Bingo. The classic non-response. And not regretful in the least. Totally predictable.

Some day the kiddo is going to figure out what kind of person his dad is, and he's going to be terribly disappointed, and I will be picking up the pieces. Kind of like I am now.

Tonight, after the kiddo cried his eyes out, I put on some funny videos on YouTube. We watched Gallagher smash watermelons, and watched David Letterman and his crew drop various items off a rooftop. Utterly mindless, stupid stuff that made us giggle. Afterward, I asked the kiddo if he wanted to go out for a treat, even though it was bedtime. He was delighted, so off we went in search of ice cream.

When we got back, we watched the beginning of Elf on TV and I lightly tickled the kiddo's feet, just the way he likes. At the first commercial, we went upstairs so he could get ready for bed, and I put Vaseline on his terribly chapped knuckles. (His dad puts hydrocortisone on them, which makes them worse, I believe. Let's just say I put Vaseline on them all last week and they were healed, and after a few days of hydrocortisone, they were the worst I'd seen them.) I scratched the kiddo's head a bit, at his request, and he fell asleep right away.


I'm sure in the morning his mood will be sorted out, more or less. I wish he didn't have to go to his dad's at all, as I feel it does more harm than good in the long run. *sigh* Nine more years of having to deal with the kiddo's dad. In the meantime, I'll be shoring up moods and chapped knuckles and disappointments. Just like always.

* From the movie Elf.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Just another November in California. ;^)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Good Thing Ah Wore Mah Eatin' Pants

Oof. I'm glad Thanksgiving is over. No more excuses to eat...until Christmas. ;-) I hope you and yours had a great time today. I missed my little guy, who spent today with his dad, but I'm thankful to have my son in my life and I'm looking forward to getting him back in another day or so. He's got a lot of smooshy kisses waiting for him!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Journey to the Center

First United Methodist Church, San Diego, CA, Nov. 2009.

"Is it a maze?" he asked.

"Well, no," I replied. "A labyrinth isn't a maze because a labyrinth doesn't try to trick you."


"A maze takes you to dead ends as you search for the way out. A labyrinth is a path that turns in directions you're not expecting, but leads you to the place you know you need to go: the center. The purpose of walking a labyrinth is to get your mind to slow down as your feet slow down. You have to trust it."


"Some people like to think about God as they walk the labyrinth because the walk is a lot like following God. You may go in directions you don't expect, but if you follow and trust, when you look back, you see there were no tricks. Just a steady path."

"Yeah. Okay, Mom. Is it okay if I turn on my game again?"


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Give Me...a Break, a Hand, a Piece of Your Mind

This week the kiddo is off school, so he's been coming to work with me at the church. Yesterday he helped finish packing Thanksgiving meal boxes for needy families, and today he helped me buy extra turkeys and hand out meals. It was exhausting, but awesome. I'm really glad he gets the opportunity to help on projects like that.

I have to admit that while I love being able to help people who need it, I also find less charitable thoughts creeping into my mind at times. For instance, today I brought out two meal boxes (containing green beans, cream of mushroom soup, sweet potatoes, marshmallows, rolls, pie crust, canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, stuffing mix, chicken broth, cranberry sauce...and sometimes other things as well) and two turkeys for a mother and her daughter who had called the church to be put on the list. They'd brought along another person who asked if we had any other meal boxes, and I sadly told him we didn't.

The truth was that we really did have an extra one, but it was sort of our backup, last-minute box, and I didn't want to give it to someone who was helping cart away two full family meals already. I felt bad about it, but I didn't feel it would be right to carelessly hand out yet another meal to someone who already had one (as far as I could tell). I wondered if I was being judgmental about whether this person "deserved" an extra meal box. Not a good feeling.

As it turned out, I got a message when I got back into the office. Apparently someone had a friend who was living in a group home for people with AIDS, and she wondered if we could help her friend. So that's who's getting the extra meal tomorrow. I guess things work out the way they do for a reason, but...still.

It would be nice to be able to give freely. There are so many people in need, and just the same, I know there are also plenty of people who play us for charity. One woman calls us periodically and asks us for amounts of money and food that we can't supply, in a time frame that wouldn't work for us anyway. She's been doing this for going on two years, and the impression is that she's more of a manipulator than a person in need. We helped her twice at the beginning, then declined further calls.

That's hard.

My boss, a pastor, says there's a difference between being charitable and being mericiful. Merciful is giving the shirt off your back, even if you have to suffer. Charitable is giving people what they need in order to help themselves. I lean toward merciful; it's hard to say no. My boss is one to set boundaries. This makes for some interesting discussions and uncomfortable moments for me.

I don't think there's only one right way to give; we all do what we want with what we have, and every bit of generosity helps. Still, I'd be interested in knowing your thoughts on giving. What's your giving style? When is it "right" to not give? Do you give to everyone, or just to people who "deserve" it?

Monday, November 23, 2009


He doesn't do much in this one, but it's sooo from my era. Hilarious.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Is It Still Cradle-Robbing If He's 28 Years Old?

I love this guy.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

God Bless Us, Every One...As We Tiptoe Through the Tulips

I went to see a play tonight. My brother's girlfriend teaches drama, speech and choir at a Catholic high school, and she directs all the school plays and musicals there. Anyway, tonight they did A Christmas Carol and it was wonderful -- part play, part musical, very creative while sticking to Dickens' story. As usual, I cried when the Ghost of Christmas to Come showed the Cratchit family burying Tiny Tim. Kills me every time.

No, not that one.

This one.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Prayers, Please

I've recently learned that a 35-year-old mom in Georgia, Anissa Mayhew, suffered her second stroke a couple of days ago. She'd had a stroke a few years ago, and dealt with her toddler's cancer as well, and now this. She and her family sound like an amazing bunch of people, and there are a lot of people testifying to this on a number of blogs.

Anissa's regular blog is here, but updates about her health (written by her husband) are here.

If you could say a prayer or think a good thought or light a candle or...something for Anissa and her family, I know they would appreciate it. Thanks.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Can't Even Count the Number of Times I've Needed to Take Notes While Eating...

I'm unreasonably amused by these. Wouldn't it be fun to pull these out of your pocket at a meeting? Also, they're biodegradable, which I love.

The overall Inhabitat site is pretty nifty and their kid site, Inhabitots, is a must-visit. Seriously. Go there now. Awesomeness abounds!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

But Now My Pillow Is Calling My Name

Why am I up at this hour? Well, Primary Dog heard the kiddo moving about at 2:15 a.m. and growled, then raced upstairs to investigate. I figured the kiddo was just visiting the bathroom, but the glow that appeared at the top of the stairs said otherwise. Turned out he thought it was wake-up time and figured he'd watch a few Bakugan videos on YouTube. I put the kibosh on that plan and the kiddo told me I never let him do anything fun. Then he fell asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow.

Speaking of pillows...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

She Shoots...and Misses

Just to balance things out, tonight the kiddo is going to sleep and he's cranky. I told him I love him, and he said, "No, you DON'T, and I'm TIRED of BELIEVING that!" Hmm. Methinks someone just lost bedtime story privileges. ;^)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Does That Mean My Average is Above Average?

At the football game Friday, the kiddo was in a foul mood. I tried to jolly him out of it, to no avail. Finally we went to the snack bar and I told him he needed to take responsibility for his mood and pull himself together because I wasn't going to indulge it any more. Complete mood turnaround. After the game, he told me, "Mom, I just want you to know you're battin' a thousand on bein' a parent."

Hey, I can live on that for a long time. Should have it embroidered on a pillow. ;^)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Home, Sweet Home

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Rockin' That Random Act of Kindness

Well, I missed a day, so NaBloPoMo = fail. Nonetheless, I will soldier on. ;-) I plead stress, though. The eviction thing is kind of a mind-blower, not so much for me because I always expect the kiddo's dad to behave like the malignant narcissist he is, but for the kiddo. He absolutely cannot understand why his dad is doing this to him. I'm in charge of making everything nice and smooth, which is a full-time job. Also a full-time job: forgiving the kiddo's dad.

Anyway, recently I forgot my PIN after not using it for so long, and stress has sent some things flying out of memory. At the ATM I tried a few possible PIN combos, with no luck. Little did I know the card had been deactivated. I'd promised the kiddo I would take him to the beach (we were visiting my parents), so we headed down there and stoped by Starbucks to order a bunch of stuff. Card declined. ??!!!

My mind started racing as I thought about how I'd have to go to the bank and fix the card, and somehow pay for parking when I left the beach, and...and...then, as I was about to tell the cashier to cancel my order, the twenty-something dude behind me said, "I got 'er, son." At first I wasn't sure I'd heard him right, but he paid for all my stuff! I was dumbstruck. I asked if I could give him a hug and he got all shy, but I hugged him anyway. Man, I soooooooo needed his random act of kindness today!

For what it's worth, the dude's name is Ryan and we were at the Starbucks in Huntington Beach on Main Street. And Ryan, if you ever Google yourself and by some longshot find this blog entry, I want you to know you totally made my day. Probably even my week. :-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nine More Years...

Got served an eviction notice today from my son's dad. Merry Christmas! Thank God I have my bio-family and church family and will get through this. Still, I am highly impressed by the ex's sophisticated assholery. The kiddo is very upset. I doubt the ex considered how this would affect the little guy. Some toothless dude actually handed it to me at the church this evening, then told me, "Oh, by the way, thanks for Prop 8!" WTF? Please go back to your car and smoke some more crack. (FWIW, I voted no on Prop 8, so begone, ye gummy meth-head!) ;) Anyway, the kiddo is fairly upset, and no, I did not tell him the news in a way that would put his dad down at all, although I have every right to. Nevertheless, as therapists have told me, the kiddo will likely figure out on his own how his damaged dad really is. I'm sad about that. A boy should be able to grow up knowing his dad is a hero, not a dick. I don't fault his dad for having to sell the condo; it's the cowardly way he's gone about it. A real man would call and have a proper conversation about it and help work out an exit plan that all parties could live with. Serving an eviction notice = killing flies with a hammer. Narcissistic wound, anyone?* What a poor excuse for a grownup he is. Nine more years.

narcissistic personality disorder

"A psychiatric diagnosis characterized by an exaggerated sense of self-importance and uniqueness, an abnormal need for attention and admiration, preoccupation with grandiose fantasies concerning the self, and disturbances in interpersonal relationships, usually involving the exploitation of others and a lack of empathy."

If you recognize someone you know or love in the above definition, let me know. I have some good resources on dealing with people like this, and I've had ten years of practice. :-)


"The wound to heart and psyche that gets called narcissism occurs when a child's vulnerable and developing core sense of self is not seen and reflected back by the adults around him/her. Each child is born a unique individual with special gifts and personal challenges, multi-layered and both simple and complex. For any one layer to develop, that part of the child needs to be seen, heard, understood and valued. Parents have to be present to be mirrors—to bear witness and reflect back. Healthy parents help young people build a frame of reference for living.

"A child needs a safe context in which to explore and express his/her core sense of self. A child needs adults who are themselves grounded in who they are so they have emotional and psychic space to be receptive to the individual child at any moment, rather than relating to the child from their own unmet needs. Any one adult may be capable of seeing and developing certain aspects of a child, and less equipped to see and develop other ones. In this sense, it does take a village to raise a child, and with the loss of this village and the committed long-term adult relationships the village offers to a child, many levels of the child's developing self will be missed entirely.

"When a parent's own woundedness and unmet needs override their ability to be present to a child or a parent's undeveloped parts of self render them unable to respond to a child's vulnerable and authentic needs, the child's core sense of self can be lost, fragmented or undeveloped. The loss, fragmentation and lack of development of the core sense of self is the root of the narcissistic wound. Raw, broken, undeveloped and lost, we enter a cold cruel world ill-equipped to relate, define fulfillment from the inside out and connect with the spirit of life.

"While our hunter-gatherer and agricultural ancestors and the worlds they lived in have slowly become extinct over many generations, our human bodies are still wired with the cellular expectations of connection that were the birthright and experience of those that came before us. When our primal wiring meets the world we live in today characterized by disconnection at personal, family and social levels, we experience a helplessness and aloneness that is beyond what we are biologically prepared to embrace. By necessity, we must sculpt defenses that allow us to navigate the world asit is, and protect us from what we are afraid of or not equipped to deal with. These defenses create a false self that allows us to survive practically but masks as it protects our wounded hearts and souls.

"We cannot live with a sense of depth because to relate at this level is exhausting unless we are self-secure beings, willing to be vulnerable and chance being exposed to the core. Most people yearn to be known, to be understood. Only by living from the core do we become who we were meant to be."

How Some of Us Are Spending the Afternoon

Some of us are more productive than others. *blush*

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Work in Progress

Chalk artist, Hollywood, CA.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why I Don't Post as Much as I'd Like

After we came home from work today, the kiddo commandeered my computer to watch Bakugan videos on YouTube. Finally it was bedtime, and I sighed with relief; I could reclaim my computer, check Facebook, surf blogs...

Then the kiddo patted the mattress. "Mo-om," he called. "I have an invitation for you! You get to lie down next to me and watch me play my DS for a few minutes."

My mom had four kids, and although I know she sat on my bed from time to time, I seem to remember it never being long enough. As a mom, I now know she was probably dying to put her feet up and watch *Mary Tyler Moore* but when I was a kid, no matter how much of herself she gave us, I wanted more of her.

"Mom!" the kiddo called again. "You have an invitation and and it has hearts on it!"

I pried myself out of my desk chair. Facebook could wait.

A Thorny Issue

Cactusland, as the kiddo calls it. Balboa Park, San Diego, CA.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Wishing I Had a Magic Pocket Watch

He just looks big because he's wearing my sweatshirt.
At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Tonight the kiddo and I had a little date of sorts. My brother's girlfriend had given me a business card case from Brighton a few years ago, and finally the cover decoration plate had come loose. Did you know that Brighton will fix any of their items for free? I was delighted to discover this. My case was ready for pickup at the swanky mall, so the kiddo and I headed there after work.

He was chatterbox squared tonight, and talking a mile a minute about anything and everything: Bakugan, school, stores he hadn't seen before, pizza, heaters at the food court, etc. It was all I could do to keep up with him, especially since I hadn't been feeling great and had earlier convinced myself I could be having a heart attack, and was finally recovering from some heading-for-significant anxiety. Crazy, I know. Fodder for a different post. (An old friend of mine had a heart attack a couple of weeks ago and I can be a bit suggestible at times.)

As we strolled the mall, a kiosk salesperson tried to get my attention. "No, thank you," I interrupted, perhaps a little sharply. "Good job, Mom!" the kiddo said in wonderment. "That was really good!" Ah, I'm teaching him well, I suppose! Hey, I used to be the nice person who'd give everyone the time of day. Growing up, I thought my mom was so rude to some salespeople. Why did she have to hang up on them or verbally dismiss them when they were just trying to do their jobs? As a mom, I finally get it: My time is my own and no one else gets to decide they can just take up my time with pointless crap. Wow, aren't I the badass tonight? ;^)

Anyway, we eventually found our way back to the food court and grabbed some dinner, eating as we sat under the gas heaters. We didn't talk much at that point, but then we don't always have to. I just enjoyed being in the moment and thanked God for my kid, who's growing so fast. One moment he's scoffing at me for being such a mom, and the next he's telling me he's afraid of elevators (because he knows I would never laugh at such a thing, although I might make him ride a few more elevators with me in the future to get past that fear), and the next he's patting my hair and kissing me on the forehead.

We walked a bit more after dinner and he decided he wanted some ice cream. As he tried to keep it from dripping, I resisted the urge to take it from him and lick it back to manageability, as I might've a few years earlier.

I did, however, grab a napkin and wipe his face once, and he let me. He's still my little boy...for now.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Who Said Baseball Season Ends with the World Series?

The kiddo, pitching today against...oh, does it matter? ;-)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

But Should You Yell "Theater!" in a Crowded Firehouse?

The kiddo in a fireman's coat at the wildfire exhibit in
the Natural History Museum, San Diego, CA.

Tonight I took the kiddo to see Honk! in Escondido. My brother's girlfriend had directed about a gazillion kids of all ages into singing and dancing through a musical adaption of Hans Christian Andersen's The Ugly Duckling and it was wonderful, as her work always is.

Toward the end of the first act, the amazingly loud fire alarm sounded and the actors at first vamped, then froze. The kiddo proceeded to come a little unglued. The house manager instructed everyone to leave the theater (alarm still blaring) and we all poured outside. The kiddo grabbed my sleeve and tried to drag me toward the parking lot to go home, but I convinced him to stick around so we could see if it was a false alarm. Thank goodness I had his video game in my purse. Distractions are lifesavers!

Turned out the concessions folks had accidentally burned some cookies they were preparing for intermission sales, so after everyone regrouped, we went back into the building for intermission, then the actors resumed the show at the number that had been interrupted, and played into the second act. What troopers! Now we just have a funny story to tell, and I'm grateful for that. bed!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Shoulda Posted This One for "Blue"

At the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, CA.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Just me, my lunch...and the lizards.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Praying for a Sign

Venice, CA.
Venice, CA.

Venice, CA.

Hollywood and Highland Center, Hollywood, CA.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Who's on First, What's on Second...?

The kiddo cracked me up today by demonstrating how much of this he has memorized. He even has Abbot's "Yeees" down pat. Love it. :-)

Monday, November 02, 2009

It Ain't Easy...(You Know the Rest)

The field I see from my window, before and after the rainy season.

Waiting for koi.

The kiddo and the green machine.

Botanical Building, Balboa Park, San Diego.

Playing along with the Women's Colony. Come check us out!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Everyone Thought He Was a Farmer,
Which Is Probably Just as Well

This year the kiddo went as Huckleberry Finn to his school's fall festival, then on to trick-or-treating at the mall. I don't think he's ever trick-or-treated in a regular neighborhood, except when he was a baby and I carried him up and down my parents' street. These days we happen to live on a street that's mostly condos and apartments and a field and a lake, so it just makes things easier to go to the mall for Halloween.

When I picked up the kiddo from his dad's house yesterday, he'd had only a sweet roll and crackers-and-milk (a tradition passed down from his paternal grandmother, who mashed the crackers into the milk and ate the concoction with a spoon), so he was a little underfortified for a day of running around and candy acquisition. Also, he was a tad cranky. We stopped at home to Huck Finn the kid up, then headed for the school. I'd signed up to work at the balloon dart booth for an hour, so the kiddo came along to help.

He wasn't that thrilled with being told what to do (imagine that!), so I was relieved to see his dad show up for a bit to take the kiddo around and play games. They ate a little food while they were away from the booth, so the kiddo eventually returned to me in a better mood. I however, hadn't eaten anything yet for the day and it was already 1:30 in the afternoon, so I was wilting. However, when I opened my checkbook to buy tickets for food, I discovered I was out of checks. We dashed home for checks, returned to the school so I could scarf down a hot dog and chips, played a couple of games, then returned to work at the dart booth for a while. In the meantime, the kiddo was begging me to go into the haunted house with him.

He'd been in the haunted house last year with his dad and had a great time, but haunted houses aren't really my thing, so I encouraged the kiddo to find a buddy to go with. The few kids he asked didn't want to go, so I finally agreed to go with him. The haunted house was basically one of the mobile classrooms all decked out with black plastic draping on the outside and who-knows-what on the inside. The dad in charge was letting in groups of four, so when it was our turn, the kiddo made me promise to hold his hand. Good thing.

As we entered, we were met with a rapid strobe light, more black plastic draping and plenty of skulls painted with glow-in-the-dark paint. Then everything went to hell when a little girl dressed as a corpse (she was part of the haunted house) screamed at the top of her lungs and other people dressed as monsters walked slowly toward us. The kiddo started panicking and saying he wanted to get out, and I couldn't find our way out. Seriously, he was hyperventilating and yelling, "Help me, Mommy! Help me, Mommy!" After a couple of seconds, a monster told us to go around the corner, and we were out.

After we were safely out the door, the kiddo told me he was going to wait until we were away from the haunted house and the crowd of waiting kids so he could cry. And cry he did, poor thing. I just hugged him, had him drink some water, and decided to move on to the mall for tick-or-treating. On our way to the car, we ran into a couple of boys the kiddo knows, and he asked them if they'd gone in the haunted house. "Yeah," they said, looking at us sideways, "it wasn't very scary." The kiddo agreed.

When we were safely out of earshot, the kiddo laughed nervously and took my hand again. "Okay, I lied."