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Posts Tagged ‘jack-o-lantern’

While reading blogs yesterday, I came across this friend’s post which mentioned he had left his pumpkin out in the rain after Halloween and eventually had to pick it up with a shovel and toss it in the trash. It reminded me of my daughter, Susie. Let me preface the story with the fact that Susie comes by her stubbornness honestly. Her father is stubborn and I am even more so.

Two years ago, when Susie was 16, we carved our pumpkins on Halloween afternoon and put them out on the front porch. We always wait til Halloween to carve our pumpkins because, being in California with the warm weather, the pumpkins rot right away if they’re left outside after they’ve been carved. The routine is to buy them a week or so before Halloween, put them outside in the front til Halloween then bring them in and carve them in the afternoon. It also buys time between “after school” and “getting your costume on”. Then they go out and after trick-or-treating is over, we bring them in and I bake them or boil them. In 2006, we had two pumpkins because it was only Susie and I living at the house. In previous years, we had as many as five pumpkins when all three of the kids were home and their father still lived with us but that’s been a long while. That year we had a Mama pumpkin and a Susie pumpkin. She wanted to carve them both so I let her. We put them out in the front, complete with a little candle, to await trick-or-treaters.  Before she put them out, I told her it was her job to bring them in when she got home from her trick-or-treating with her friends.  She agreed.

Fast forward through the evening of Halloween in which I was deluged with over 500 trick-or-treaters! It was a big surprise because it was the first year we lived at that house and we didn’t know that the two churches in the neighborhood each had a Halloween party and people used our street for parking and they trick-or-treated on their way to the church! We got van-loads of kids!

Oops, I said fast forward and instead I paused! Sorry! Let me push “play”.

So when Susie got home, I reminded her she had to bring in the pumpkins. She said she’d do it after she changed out of her ladybug costume. Two hours later I reminded her again. She said she’d do it before she went to sleep. The next morning I reminded her again. She said she’d do it before she left for school. She didn’t do it. Every day I reminded her at least three or four times and every day she’d put me off, saying she’d do it at some point later in the day. I don’t like to yell. I don’t like to threaten. I don’t like to nag her. I also don’t like to do what she is supposed to do just because she is being lazy about it. What will she learn if I do that? So the more stubborn she became about bringing in the pumpkins, the more stubborn I became about not bringing them in for her. I eventually started asking her if she wasn’t embarrassed to have the rotting pumpkins out there. She said she wasn’t and that they looked kind of neat as they transformed from jack-o-lanterns to a moldy pile of mush.

The pumpkins stayed out there for what seemed like forever! They got gross. They got more gross. They started oozing gook from the bottom. Not even flies would go near them.

Then she asked if she could go out with a new boy that I hadn’t met. BINGO! I had her! They could never go out with anyone that I had not met in person at the house. So she had to bring him over to meet me and he had to come in the house and sit down and make small talk for at least ten minutes. This meant she had to clean up the pumpkins before he could come over!!! She agreed.

She went out to assess the situation and asked me how she should clean it all up because they were so gooey that she couldn’t pick them up without her hands going through them and making a mess all over. I suggested she use a box that was out by the trash can as a kind of dust pan. So she had to cut the box apart and bring the trash can to the front porch. She also had to go find a dish towel to tie around her nose and mouth while she did it. It was THAT gross. After she scooped it all up and tossed it in the can and returned the big trash can on rollers to the back yard, she had to get the hose and hose down the mess. Then she had to scrub it with disinfectant (it smelled bad so we had to get the smell out) and hose it down again. The whole process took her well over an hour. She did it all herself. Finally.

I was delighted. It had been very frustrating for me to deal with this through weeks. (I think it was the weekend before Thanksgiving when she finally cleaned it all up.) But at least now I thought she might have learned a lesson about why she shouldn’t put things off for so long.

The following year, the pumpkins came in on Halloween night, after trick-or-treaters were all done.

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