This is a story I wrote when my youngest child was five.
He turns 21 this week.
It was a tragic end to Jack’s day. Someone had taken his pumpkin, smashed the remains and scattered them just a couple yards from the front door. We all knew it was Jack’s from the tell tale pink and green florescent pieces. Jack sobbed his little heart out.
“Why did they do that Mommy, why my Mr. Pumpkin?”
How was I to explain to my tired, overwrought five year old why fate in the disguise of Halloween pranksters had picked his pumpkin for this sorry end?
Earlier that day I brought the children to the shop, pumpkin hunting. We looked over the specimens that remained and finally each of the children made their choice. Jack and his three older siblings chatted excitedly as they planned their carving strategies. The minute we arrived home they scrambled for crayons and paper. Each design of prospective faces set off a chorus of, “What do you think of this one Mom?” I scrutinized the drawings carefully and then made the only pronouncement a mother can in this situation, “That is just wonderful! So Original!” Designs finally decided on, it was time to clean, scrape and carve the pumpkins into the proposed masterpieces. The older children got right to the job at hand. Tops were cut off their pumpkins and insides scraped out. After cutting the top off Jack’s pumpkin, I handed him a scraper. He put his little hand into the pumpkin and his face screwed up into a knot. His big blue eyes disappeared as his button nose scrunched up into his forehead. His beautiful bow mouth stretched straight across his face as he roared, “YUK! YUK!” With disgust he turned to me and said,” You do it Mommy!” Well I suppose that’s what mothers are for, the Yuk jobs. Once cleaned, Jack drew the face he wanted carved on his pumpkin. It was a very interesting face, with two large oblong eyebrows, round eyes, an upside triangle nose and a lopsided grin. On reflection, it was quite an endearing face. I think it was the mischievous grin.
The pumpkins carved, the time had come to add drama with paint. Jack loved to paint. He watched with wide eyed delight as I placed the paints on the table. With a soft chuckle he hugged his pumpkin and said, “I’m going to make you the bestest pumpkin in the whole wide world.”
As the children painted I got the camera. Any mother worth her salt knows these are the precious moments. They stood with brushes poised waiting for picture taking to cease so they could proceed with phase two of their artistic creations. Ten minutes later everyone was finished painting, everyone except Jack. He was busily painting every inch of “Mr. Pumpkin.” When Mr. Pumpkin’s identity magically emerged, I do not know.
The finished creations were placed on the front steps for display. The time had come for costume assembly and creativity on my part with face paint. Once decked out they rushed about excitedly trying to find the trick or treat bags bought the week previous and put in the proverbial safe place. Bags found and in hand they raced out the door and I breathlessly tried to catch up. They knocked on doors for the next two hours stopping only because their bags had become too heavy.
The treats we had for callers had dwindled down to a few tootsie rolls. It was nearly 8PM and there was a knock at the door. I gave the three young teenagers the last of our goodies and apologized to them for the rather thin pickings. They let me know in no uncertain terms that they were not amused.
I closed the door, turned to the children saying, “I hope you weren’t rude like that and remembered to say thank you to people.”
They assured me they had thanked everyone, even the person that gave them a toothbrush.
It had been a long and exciting night. but the time had come to remove costumes, wash off face paint and get ready for bed. The children wanted to bring in their pumpkins before going to bed. This is when we discovered to Jack’s horror and mine that “Mr. Pumpkin” was missing. Oldest son spotted “Mr. Pumpkin’s” remains scattered on the road. Jack was inconsolable. Finally to settle him I promised first thing after school the next day we would go to the shops and buy a new, “Mr. Pumpkin.”
I spent the night tossing and turning hoping I would be able to keep the promise I made to my five year old. There had been so few pumpkins available earlier that day.
The next day I collected Jack from school and we began our great pumpkin expedition. We tried shop after shop, but no pumpkins. I was just about to give up when we passed a garden shop and there sitting outside the door I spotted at least a dozen pumpkins. I felt like I had found the pot of gold at the end a rainbow. I sighed a huge sigh of relief as I pointed them out to Jack. Before I had the keys out of the ignition Jack was at the door of the shop weighed down by his new “Mr. Pumpkin”
The shop owner was a friendly elderly man who looking at my son asked, “Well young man, what’s your name?” “Jack,” he replied, “and this is Mr. Pumpkin.” The shop owner laughed turning to me and said, “Aren’t they wonderful at this age!”
Agreeing I then asked him “How much?” Looking at my son he said, “Jack, you can have Mr. Pumpkin. You brought a little ray of sunshine into my day. Enjoy.” I thanked the man profusely. Jack sang and chatted to his new Mr. Pumpkin the whole way home.
Once home the carving and painting ritual was repeated. The new pumpkin was now a bonafide “Mr. Pumpkin.” Jack insisted this “Mr. Pumpkin” be kept in his room where no harm could come to him. Weeks passed and as “Mr. Pumpkin” withered, Jack began to lose interest. We were able to move “Mr. Pumpkin” who began to smell a bit offside, outside. He was placed by the backdoor and there he sat until after Christmas. I just hadn’t the heart to remove him. I had grown attached to the old boy!
My scanner is not working so I was unable to post the actually photos of that Halloween or of Mr. Pumpkin I & II. But rest assured I do have them, buckets of them!