Halloween is not my favorite holiday. We celebrate — costumes, jack o’ lanterns, trick-or-treating, even “Monster Mash” and “Thriller” — but by the time I’ve done the class parties and the themed favors and the posed photos and candy rationing, I’m pretty much over it.

My kids, though, are obsessed. Georgia is mostly just excited for the costume (she’s going as Owlette from PJ Masks) and the candy (she’s partial to anything chocolate), but Ruby has gone all in. She is dressing up as Wonder Woman, but the real draw, for her, is being scared. She’s always been something of an adrenaline-junkie, but now, at age 9, she and her friends are all about Bloody Mary, Ouija boards, haunted houses, ghost stories and scary books.

I, though, as a mom, can imagine many things scarier than an escaped convict with a hook hand or a hitchhiker who turns out to have been dead for 20 years. Here are my top 5:


  1. Sock hops. My 9-year-old is officially old enough for the school sock hop. She’s not going — a flurry of texts with the other fourth grade moms quashed that idea and established a united front — but the fact remains that we can’t stall forever and very soon, she will be the same age I was when I put on a Guns N’ Roses T-shirt, let my best friend tease my permed hair, shaved my legs on the sly, and bounced maniacally to Kris Kross while hoping someone would ask me to slow-dance to Boyz II Men. I am so beyond not ready for this to happen to my daughter(s).
  2. Lice. We currently don’t have lice, but so powerful is the impact of these bugs that just seeing a California friend’s Facebook post has made me start itching. Norovirus is my No. 1 parental fear, but lice is not far behind. As awful as the stomach virus is, at least it runs its course quickly; we once spent at least six months fighting lice.
  3. School projects. I know. I know. I know. I know they are not my homework. I know I am not the one who has to do them. And I don’t. As much as I have to sit on my hands to not correct Ruby’s typos, as much as I fight the urge to help her research and explain to her about the value of primary-source data — I manage to leave her projects to her. They still stress me out, though, because I have to buy poster board and glitter glue and try to keep my kids from killing each other after Georgia scribbled all over Ruby’s bottlenose dolphin paper. In Sharpie.
  4. Raising daughters generally. The other day, Ruby rolled her window down at a spotlight, and a guy walked past, peered in at her, and said, “Hey, there, baby.” She immediately rolled her window back up and looked at me, appalled. “Was … was that guy flirting with me?” she asked. “I felt like he was looking at me all creepy.” I didn’t want to tell her to just get used to it, but the truth is that she pretty much just has to get used to it. Thinking back to the things I’ve heard over my 36 years, I’m grateful it wasn’t worse, and I’m certain that it will one day be worse. For both of them. And I am powerless to stop it. That’s to say nothing of the Mean Girls aspect that I also have to factor into their middle school and high school years.
  5. The forecasted coffee shortage. I can live without bananas. I can live without chocolate. I can even live without wine. But please don’t take away my coffee. Given the fact that my 4-year-old woke me up at 5 a.m. to complain about the fact that she hadn’t been served dessert the night before and my 9-year-old woke me up at 2 a.m. because she had a nightmare about an evil clown and one of their toys woke me up at 3:30 a.m. by having some kind of mechanical malfunction … coffee is pretty much the only way I am managing to keep my eyes open.


Fellow parents, what’s scaring you this Halloween?