The local School of Rock played “Black Dog” as Luca, Elijah and I walked onto the Washington School playground to attend Fall Fest. I knew our day was going to be spectacular.
I plopped down every dollar I had at the ticket booth and told the boys to go nuts.
There was the grossest cotton candy on the planet. There were pony rides from the stinkiest ponies on the planet. There were hot dogs grilled on the dirtiest grill on the planet. Games of chance allowed even the loser to pick out a worthless piece of plastic as a prize.
And there was a haunted house.
From the beginning, Eli made it known he would not set foot even inside the school, because inside the school was where the haunted house was. That’s fine. It cost four tickets and the line was silly long. And the haunted house was reportedly manned by kids from the local high school. I do not currently tolerate high school kids.
About an hour in, however, Luca got brave.
“I want to go to the haunted house.”
“I dunno, buddy. I think you might get scared.”
“But I LIKE getting scared.”
I make it a policy to indulge our children when it involves facing a fear. Being a wet-pantsed scaredy as a child (and adult), I know it can only hold you back.
I turned Eli over to my brother, who was attending Fall Fest with the venerable Rory and Finn. Suddenly, Rory piped and up and wanted to join as well.
I made a point of reminding Eli that the two youngest children were being brave and he shrugged it off.
We three arrived at the crazily long line and waited while we heard high schoolers bellow behind closed doors. Occasionally, one would burst through the door and sweatily tell an adult, “We gotta shut it down. Someone lost keys.”
After 20 or so minutes, Rory looked up at me and said, “I don’t want to go. I’m scared.”
I pointed to the back of the line, which was even longer and said, “But…we’ve been waiting 20 minutes. Can’t you just be brave?”
We jumped out of line and delivered Rory to the group. I suggested we bail on the haunted house and do the ping pong fish game instead.
No go. Luca was determined to see whatever it was the high schoolers were doing.
We got back in line and waited again. And waited. After an eternity, we made it to the front. There, a pimple faced man-boy asked, “Do you want it to be scary? Kind of scary? Or not at all scary?”
I pointed down at the three year old at his feet and said, “What do you think?”
“Oh. Not scary.” Then he yelled into the doorway, “Blueberry! We got a Blueberry!”
I took my little blueberry by the hand and we entered.
The room was pitch black and covered with plastic garbage bags. We were met by a nice teen girl dressed in black and white face paint. She knelt down to Luca level and said, “This is not scary. This is really fun. We’re going to have fun!”
Suddenly, another teen leapt into the room, covered in blood, and screamed, “Yaarrrrrrgh!!!!!!!”
The girl said, “This is a Blueberry, you idiot! A Blueberry!”
But that was it for Luca. He shook with terror and screamed, “I want to get out of here!”
Rather than risk any more damage than was already done, I punched through the door and we escaped the haunted house.
The School of Rock kids were playing “!9th Nervous Breakdown” by the Rolling Stones.