Sarah Simpson column: The Halloween that almost didn’t happen

A lesson on adaptability

Halloween almost didn’t happen for my family this year and it’s my daycare provider’s fault.

OK, I lied, it’s mine, but it’s easier to blame somebody else, am I right?

I use a saying around the house in order to keep the kids on track and apprised of what’s coming next. It’s no miracle or anything, they are just as horrid as you’d expect a two- and a four-year-old to be on any given day, but it helps us get through the stuff that perhaps we don’t want to do and to know that the good stuff is coming down the pike.

The saying is “plan the work, work the plan.”

Usually how it goes is I’ll let them know what the schedule is for the week, the day, or the next couple hours then I’ll say “Plan the work!” and they’ll reply enthusiastically “Work the plan!” and we’ll get moving on whatever is first.

It’s very cute, albeit slightly militaristic and cultish sounding, but it works for us so we’ll run with it.

The kids have also become accustomed to asking “What day is it?” And Lord help us if we say a day of the week because that’s not what they’re asking. They want to know the type of day.

Due to our work schedules, we have Mommy days, Daddy days, mixed days and family days. We also have ninja camp days and swimming lesson days, daycare days and so on.

All this to say in the weeks leading up to Halloween everything was set. We planned the work and were working the plan.

Every time they asked when they could dress up and go trick or treating, we’d say something along the lines of, “Not yet. You’ve got a Daddy day, two family days, a Mommy day, daycare day, ninja camp day and a swimming lesson day first.”

The list got shorter as the big day approached.

It’s likely my fault because we took them with very little forewarning to the downtown Duncan Spooktacular and to the B.C. Forest Discovery Centre’s Halloween Train so they assumed from then on that Halloween night was only ever just moments away and would be sprung on them any second.

Anyway, on Oct. 28 we got the familiar questions.

“What day is it? Is it Halloween yet?”

“It’s a swimming day, then a Dad morning and Mom afternoon, then a daycare day, then it’s Halloween.”

On Oct. 29 we got a text from our wonderful daycare provider that she was too sick to work the following day. It’s the third time in four years she’s cancelled so we felt worse for her for being sick than worried about scrambling to figure out what to do with the kids.

Oct. 30 rolled around and we told the kids they wouldn’t be going to daycare that day.

Much like the idea of skipping school when you’re a school-aged kid, the idea of skipping daycare is always full of wonder and possibility and more often than not, it’s because of a special event or ferry ride. I thought they’d be happy or excited.

But their faces sank.

All week we’d been telling them trick-or-treating was the day after daycare day. Now that daycare was cancelled would Halloween not happen? Would they have to wait until after the next daycare day? It was all very concerning for them.

Plan the work and work the plan, right?


I guess our next mantra will be about adaptablility and rolling with the punches. They’re going to need it when they figure out it’s Mom and Dad that have been eating all their Halloween candy.

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