Thursday, November 01, 2012

Idylwood Halloween Eve

It is quiet now. The hundreds of children have gone home with shopping bags and jack-o- lanterns filled with wrapped candy. This year's Halloween trick or treat festivities felt joyful. The children, all accompanied by smiling parents, left me in tears, again and again. Tears? More than once? Yeah, I was suddenly overwhelmed and both happy and sad seeing these eager young faces.
Remembering my own kids when they were this age. Remembering that we drove them to Milford Street where many of their friends lived and where the candy was especially plentiful. Just as it is on my street now.
Remembering the Halloween when Mary and Queta were newly in love, or about to be, and we three sat on the front door step and handed out candy. Remembering how good it feels to participate in a community.
So many Hispanic families come to for trick or treating on this street where I live. Every year, the street is crowded with shiny pickup trucks and vans. There is a feeling of gaiety as families walk from house to house.
Moms and dad's have trained their children well.  Each says, "Trick or treat." and "Thank you." If perchance, a child forgets to say, "Thank you," she is immediately prompted. I bid each child "Happy Halloween" adding,  "You have a very scary mask!" "What a lovely princess." "I like your painted face." "Wow, what a lot of candy."

The children are all ages from babes in arms to middle school kids. Their faces are painted, masked or expressing simple delight. They are costumed as cowboys and ghosts, witches and monsters, fairies and princesses. Their parents are all smiles as they lead children back and forth across the street to houses with lights on. What I see is love for these kids and hope for them too.
And that makes me sad and angry, because the State of Texas is not inclined to educate these children. During the last legislative session, $5.4 billion from slashed from public school education.  Couldn't afford it, they said. But they wouldn't touch the 'rainy day fund', which was designed to be used for public education on a 'rainy day'.
Today I read in the Houston Chronicle that 600 public school districts in Texas are suing the state, charging that it does not provide "enough money to meet the schools' constitutional obligation for standards which include the new STAAR test, or State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness.'
Imagine 600 school districts partnering to sue the state on behalf of 5 million Texas school children.
Our high school graduation rate is disturbing. We are dead last in the nation. Worse than places like Alabama and Mississippi.
And heading into the 2013 legislative session is Senator Dan Patrick, who wants to give education dollars, big time, for school vouchers and charter schools. Turn the whole education thing over to parents and the private sector. It'll all be a mess to straighten out.
And that's why seeing all these kids tonight makes me sad. Why can't we give every kid a decent education? It's in every one's best interest.
And of course, this all takes me back to the times when I'd walk the halls of the Poe, Lanier and Lamar when the girls were all in public school and I was usually the PTA president. I'd see white kids, black kids and Hispanic kids, filled with energy and what looked to me like hope. And I'd wonder if all or most of them would make it. Would each kid get a fair shake in life? Every kid deserves a chance and an education. We all worked so hard to make our public schools good for everybody and yet I know kids slipped through the cracks.

Evenings like this remind me of Caroline and Jeanne and Mary, when they were little and eager to wear  costumes that they'd planned for and thought about for months. And which, most of the time, I'd sewed with netting and sequins and gold lame and whatever else went into wings and 'I Dream of Jeanne'  or Princess Lea or Wonder Woman costumes. There was much to be done and the girls began dreaming about Halloween, at least as early as Easter.
Today, Jeanne sent me a photo of Kelan and Lauren with Dad. I am so happy she took her kids to visit him. Dad is all smiles and Lauren is wearing a Wonder Woman outfit - just like her mom did at about the same age. That long ago evening when we set out for trick or treating was cold (before climate change) and Jeanne needed more to wear than her costume to keep warm. But what? I dug out an old blue electric blanket, unhooked the cord and away she went, swathed in a grand cape.
Here's Lulu Bell as black cat with Caroline on their front steps handing out candy. Where's Charlie?
This afternoon, I bought six bags of candy at Fiesta. In the midst of handing out mini Milky Way and Snickers bars and most of a bag of Reese's Peanut butter Cups, I stopped to check the numbers of  candies in the bags. Most said nine two-piece per servings, except for the Reese's which had 40 mini peanut butter cups. I added up the numbers and found I handed out 119 pieces of candy in 40 minutes time. I had to turn off my porch light and close the blinds. Out of treats.
Of course, I saved half a bag of Reece's, because during my last visit to Seattle, I found I really liked Dad's cache of these particular candies. Not healthy at all. I've had a dozen or more tonight. My body sugar levels must be soaring.
I'm over the tears now. But it happens every Halloween. It's all about love and potential loss, isn't it?

Stopped in at the Greater East End Management District this afternoon and imagine what I found. Folks in costume, three actually representing a sunflower, graffiti and trash. All three are district themes.

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