Sunday, November 30, 2014

Zombie Babies

My 2 year old daughter is a Goth. She comes by it honestly. I was a Goth back in my 20s. Dressed in relentless black, dancing in vampire clubs, reading horror novels and watching thrillers. Her father (when I knew him at 31 anyway) was a dark and twisted monster who collected skulls, swords and scorpions and lived on a steady diet of disturbing horror movies. I guess it was inevitable that Michelle would be, at least somewhat, drawn to the macabre.

There's a song by The Ministry called "Every day is Halloween." It certainly seems to be the case for Michelle. She was obsessed with it for months before it came and now, at the end of November she STILL talks about Halloween every day (asks to watch the Halloween DVDs I got her and shows I taped on PVR -- Bubble Guppies Halloween etc. Her favourite movie at the moment is "Hotel Transylvania" which is a cute animated movie about monsters. She watches it just about every day.) My Mom says I should try to discourage it. I did try but really if it makes her happy, what's the harm? Anything that buys me a few minutes of peace is fine by me! And every day she asks to see the "zombie babies" on the computer. Here's the website, if you dare:

Michelle's first introduction to "zombie babies" was by accident. I was flipping through her baby photo albums (which at the time she was calling "photo problems" I can't remember how old she was then. Sometime between 12 & 15 months I think.) Anyway, she came across a picture from October 2012 when she was only a few months old and we had her posed with Auntie May's collection of zombie babies (OK, so the whole family is a little odd. Auntie May and Uncle Shane REALLY get elaborate with their Halloween displays, including several creepy zombie babies. I hoped it wouldn't be too traumatic for her. I figured she was too young to really know what they were. We all got a good laugh out of it. ) Anyway when Michelle saw the photo, she was absolutely mesmerized by them. She kept asking to return to that page. With a blend of repulsion and fascination she kept asking to see the zombie babies. I think she has mentioned the zombie babies, at least once just about every single day since she saw that picture. Even a year later. She'd talk about zombie babies when we were out, at the park, grocery shopping, etc and people would look at us like "What the?!" They must wonder what on Earth I was introducing her to?

This year when Michelle knew that Halloween was coming up, she kept talking about it. Pumpkins, trick or treating and of course, zombie babies. I told her I'd try to get her one, preferably one that wasn't too gruesome or terrifying (perhaps NOT one that was stabbing a teddy bear or eating severed body parts). We went to a couple of Halloween stores but none of them seemed to have zombie babies. We did at least get a ghost costume in Michelle's size. I was hoping she'd agree to wear the cute witch costume that someone had given me but she insisted on being a ghost after seeing "Casper." So I went everywhere trying to find one in her size. (I was NOT going to cut holes in a sheet as a ghost costume!) We found one with a cute ghost face on a little dress and she even got to pose with a colourful zebra at the store. Everyone in the store made a big fuss of her. It was a bit more than I'd wanted to spend but I was sold.

Of course, we still had to find Michelle a zombie baby. She went on about it every day. One day in line at the drive-thru trying to get my iced capp at Tim Horton's she was screaming "I want a ZOMBIE BABY!" "I'm pretty sure they don't sell zombie babies at Tim Hortons!" I explained. But after that I was on a mission. So we went to a Spirit Halloween and managed to find some mini zombie babies that weren't too scary at all. Their eyes lit up red and they had a wicked little laugh when you squeezed their bellies. We got her some skulls too. I don't know if I mentioned it in a previous post but she made me buy her a plastic skull at Target months ago. She was talking to him, asking if he was cold and trying to feed him chips. Yeah, that's my kid.

Anyway, I thought we were done with it. Perfect. She had some zombie babies. Also in our travels I picked up some skulls that lit up, an ugly doll, a Mike Wazowski balloon, some Fiona ogre ears. While we were in the store Michelle became afraid of some of the Halloween decorations. Some things were too creepy, even for her. She also was terrified of the sound of the helium machine. She clung to me in horror. The woman in the store smiled knowingly. "It bothers a lot of kids actually." For some reason all of a sudden loud noises are very upsetting to Michelle. She hates the vacuum now too. I told her that ironically she loved the sound as a baby, it used to put her to sleep, soothing white noise. Now she just cries "TOO LOUD MAMA! TOO LOUD!"

It's fitting that they call it "Fall" because it can be a bit of a downer. I have to admit I'm more of a Spring/Summer person. Fall/Winter are always a little tough for me. It might be a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder but the long cold grey days can bring me down. I should get one of those lights that simulates the sun. It makes such a difference when you don't get sunlight. I know when I started going to the tanning salon before my trip to the Dominican one year it had the side effect of being a mood boost. It also didn't help that I was sleep deprived most of the time. I must have looked like a real walking zombie myself! Michelle was going through a phase where she just wouldn't sleep. Sometimes she'd have an afternoon nap and then she'd be up til 3 in the morning. But other days even with no nap she wouldn't fall asleep until after midnight. On the days when I had to work, it was brutal. Trying to function on no sleep during a 14 hour day was a form of torture. Sometimes I barely made it through the day. Sometimes I fell asleep at the wheel driving home. Though the shifts are long at least there are fewer of them so I can spend most of my time with Michelle. I am grateful for that.

It's so hard to go from Summer to Fall. With so many cold rainy days in October Michelle and I went out less and less. In the beautiful weather we were out every day -- going for walks to the park, the beach. Now we were starting to get cabin fever. So sometimes we'd brave the elements anyway just to get some air. Michelle wanted pumpkins. I got her some little ones and she carried them around and hugged them. Michelle didn't understand about the change in the weather. Sometimes she'd still ask to go to the beach or to go to the park when it was raining.



One day at the park we saw our old friend the black cat. He was the only one other than us that was crazy enough to be there on a cold blustery day. Somehow it seemed even more fitting seeing him with Halloween coming up. I hated the cold but Michelle had a blast. Kitty seemed a little cold. He even jumped up on my lap when I crouched down. I've always loved black cats. I used to have one named Muse years ago.

Michelle loves cats and dogs. She always goes up to see them. She's fearless. When it's a dog though I ask the owner first if it's OK. You never know. Sometimes the cute little ones are the most vicious!

I admit that Autumn can be pretty with the changing leaves. I'm just not a fan of the cold. In Canada it seems like the change happens overnight (sometimes it literally does!) One day you're wearing shorts and sandals. The next day it's a winter coat and boots. For Michelle's sake I have to try to make the most of the seasons. It's magical for her. Playing in the leaves, jumping in puddles. I just stand there shivering with my nose running saying "Yeah that's great honey!" Thinking, can we go warm up now? I can't feel my fingers.

It became clear that the small zombie babies I'd purchased for Michelle weren't going to cut it. She still kept going on about them and wanting to visit the website. Some of them have their own videos. Michelle likes "Angry Alice" and "Kitty Cath." "Look! She caught a mouse! She's pretending to be a kitty cat." Yeah, that's great honey. Please don't ever pick up rodents, especially with your teeth.

Michelle asked to go to the site every day and click on the various babies. "I like that one. She's cute." While she admitted that some of them were ugly she'd say "but he's still nice."
To me, the only one that wasn't completely ghastly and disturbing was the Wiggler. He pretty much just looks like a baby doll except he's greenish grey, has sharp teeth and white eyes. We went to another Spirit Halloween and I was THRILLED to find him! When you squeeze his belly he shakes and laughs (the same laugh as the mini-zombie babies). Unfortunately Michelle was carrying him around and dropped him on the floor. He had a bit of a fit and then stopped wiggling after that. I removed the motor compartment because it had a loose wire and might be a hazard. I stuffed him with material. So now he was just a regular doll. Michelle brought him to Auntie May's. May said that when Reggie was little he loved the zombie babies and wanted to carry them to the grocery store with him but a year later he was creeped out by them and wouldn't go near them. Now he's OK with them again. He's so innocent though he thinks the one that's gnawing on a hand is eating "pizza." It's probably better that way.

Michelle loves visiting at her Auntie May's and always has a good time. It's even more fun when the whole gang is there, including the cousins on Uncle Shane's side. May and Shane hosted Thanksgiving for both sides of the family. Michelle had a blast. She has come out of her shell so much and loves playing with other kids. A couple of times she has to be reminded to share but aside from that she does pretty well. At one point all the kids were running around holding hands and then played ring around the rosy. It was adorable until Christopher (one of Shane's nephews) was feeling left out and decided to jump on the group of younger kids like an overzealous fan in the mosh pit at a heavy metal concert. Followed by screams from a few of the girls, Michelle included. I was not impressed. She was OK though. It happens. You get a house full of kids and something is bound to happen. At one point outside Michelle was running with a wooden stake. "What are you hunting vampires?! Where did you get that?" It was from a croquet set. Leave it to Michelle. If there is something remotely dangerous within a hundred mile radius she will find it. And run with it!


It's an annual tradition for May and I to take the kids to a pumpkin patch in October. Springridge Farm is a fun place to go with corn mazes, a haunted house, petting zoo, shop and of course a lot of pumpkins! Despite the cold and rain off and on, we had a great day until Michelle threw a tantrum screaming her head off toward the end. I can't even remember what set her off. She was probably just tired/cranky. She did fall asleep when we got in the car to head back to May's.

It was fun for the most part though and we got several cute pictures.

One of my favourite parts of the day was riding on the wagon to the corn maze. It was a little bumpy and a little cold but the scenery was beautiful and it was fun walking through the corn maze at the end. "It should take 10 minutes to get through" the driver told us. May and I joked about getting lost in the maze and never getting out. May and I have the same strange sense of humour and always laugh our heads off when we're together. She's the best friend and best sister anyone could have. I'm so grateful for her. Michelle loves Auntie May and her cousins very much too and is always thrilled to spend time with them. Throughout the maze they had questions and trivia about corn and all its uses -- a lot more than just food! As fun as it was we were somewhat relieved to emerge from the maze and find the wagon still there waiting to take us back. It was cold and starting to rain. We were anxious to go inside the shop and warm up.

Michelle was happy to see the turkeys. They were happy to have survived Thanksgiving! She laughed and chased them around when she saw one loose. Reggie and Shannon were a little more skittish around the loose turkey. I wasn't a big fan either. What if it pecked or something? But Michelle was fearless. She tried to pick him up and hug him! She used to be a shy girl but she is way outside of her shell now. Adventurous and eager to explore. Maybe it's the Leo in her, my little lioness is King (or Queen) of the Jungle!

Halloween was getting closer and closer. I started putting the decorations out and Michelle got excited. "Can we go trick or treating?" "Yes sweetheart. Only on Halloween night." I tried to make a little grim reaper guy to sit in the chair but he looked a little crumpled. Michelle wasn't afraid of him at all. She thought he was cute.

May and I decided to have a dress rehearsal/photo shoot with the kids before Halloween (since they wouldn't see each other on Halloween night.) Shannon was going to be a wolf-girl, Reggie Darth Vader and Michelle, a ghost. I decided to bring the witch costume too just in case. I managed to find her a white and black wig as well. The only thing we didn't do was the makeup. I didn't want to go through that more than once. Michelle's skin is so sensitive I was worried about putting makeup on her.

The kids looked so cute I couldn't resist snapping as many photos as I could get. Then Michelle and Shannon leaned in and hugged each other and my heart melted. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS SHOT! Shannon is so beautiful and Michelle's expression is so sweet! That's why I take so many pics -- because from quantity you get quality. You may take a bunch where they aren't looking or they're blurry or making a face but then all of a sudden you catch a perfect moment when everything comes together.

I thought Michelle might enjoy helping me carve the pumpkin. Not that I would have let her touch the knife but I thought she'd have fun scooping out the goop inside. Instead when I asked her to help she looked at the sticky orange entrails between my fingers and said "Yuck Mama! No! You do it!"

Michelle was thrilled with our cat-o-lantern when it was done though. She kept wanting to lift the lid/stem up. I was nervous of her burning herself with the candle.

We were almost ready for Halloween. And then, at the last minute, after months of saying she wanted to be a ghost, Michelle informed me that she wanted to be a zombie. There was no way I wasn't using the ghost costume I'd gotten for her but I figured I could improvise with her makeup a little. And maybe I'd be a zombie too just for fun. I always loved Halloween and the latent Goth in me wanted a chance to come out for a bit too...

I did my makeup first. I was worried I might scare Michelle. Instead when she saw me she exclaimed "You look BEAUTIFUL MAMA! You're gorgeous! You're a pretty zombie. A nice zombie!" Then I did Michelle's makeup. I wanted her to look like a cuter version of a zombie-ghost, almost doll-like. She was ecstatic when she saw herself in the mirror. "Wow! I look fantastic! We're pretty zombies!"

It was almost time to go trick-or-treating. I wanted to take her out early so I could still be back in time to give out candy to the kids because I've always loved that too. I didn't want to go too early though. I figured I better at least wait until it's dark outside. We went around 6 pm. I had no idea how Michelle would be. She was excited but I never know with her when a tantrum might come. She might get tired or frustrated and start to fuss. It was cold and raining (it did that last Halloween too.) I figured I'd take Michelle around as long as she wanted to and take her home when she was tired of it. I kept asking her if she wanted to go home and she said no. We wound up doing the entire street. She loved it. People were so nice. Everyone made a fuss of her saying how cute and spooky she was. She did get sick of the wig which was "itchy" and tore it off but aside from that she was pretty good. She didn't mind the rain and even had fun splashing in puddles (which I tried to discourage to no avail). It was tricky climbing up some of the verandas with a lot of stairs but she never complained about being tired. She developed a trick to get extra candy. After they had dropped a chocolate bar or other treat in her basket she would continue to stand there and look cute until they gave her another one! "Michelle! You can't just keep standing there! Come on!"

I was glad I had left a bowl of treats on the veranda with a note "Help yourself! Be back soon!" It was nearly empty. We'd been gone an hour and missed most of the trick-or-treaters. I guess most couples have one parent stay home to give out candy while the other takes the child trick-or-treating. When you're a single Mom you can't be in two places at once. Michelle having fun was my top priority. We did still get a few stragglers after we got home and Michelle loved giving them candy. She even gave them some of her own candy. I wound up with a lot of leftover chocolate. I overbought just in case. Between that and Michelle's candy (I let her have a bit but not too much) I was consuming hundreds (thousands?) of extra calories. I just stopped counting calories. I stopped working out as well. I figured oh well, it's Fall. Swimsuit season is over. I started putting on a few pounds.

Michelle didn't want Halloween to be over. I kind of missed it myself. We wound up going to Spirit Halloween for the post-Halloween half price sale and picked up a few more gothic buddies to add to our collection. A little devil, another zombie baby and a goth girl that I call "Siouxsie the Banshee."

Her father and I used to joke about him being the son of Satan (he never actually knew his father so anything is possible.) Michelle hugged her little devil and said "I love him!" My Mom didn't think it was a good idea to encourage this dark fascination of hers but I figure if it makes her happy, let her be herself. She can be a devil sometimes but she is my angel. A love of Halloween and monsters is in her blood. Her father probably would have gotten a kick out of it if he'd stuck around to see it.

"Happy Halloween!" Michelle still says to me just about every day. "Halloween is over baby. Christmas is next. It will be Christmas soon." I introduced her to Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" which is the perfect blend of Halloween and Christmas. She thought it was cool. I also tried to get her into the Christmas spirit by putting up our Christmas tree early and making some "Elf yourself" videos. Michelle still kept asking about the zombie babies. So I made a couple of elf videos using our Halloween zombie photos. She enjoyed that. Here's one. It's kind of like Dia de los Muertos meets Feliz Navidad (the videos should work up until January):

Maybe this is just a phase. Maybe by next Halloween she'll be afraid of zombies and want nothing to do with them. You just never know what she'll do. As a baby she loved the sound of the vacuum, now she hates it.

And I guess if I'm honest there is part of me that's glad she's a bit of an offbeat kid. She's anything but ordinary and she certainly makes life interesting!