I hate Halloween.
What’s crazier…I hate that I hate Halloween. I mean, who hates Halloween? What does that say about me? It’s just merriment for all ages. Yet I still can’t change my feelings.
Every October 30, I expect to get visited by ghosts of Halloween past, present, and future all night to improve my attitude about it. It seems, though, that maybe these ghosts did visit this year…although perhaps a little more subtly, for I did feel my heart perhaps grow 2-3 sizes bigger (Okay, I’ve shifted parallels from “A Christmas Carol” to “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. I’ll stick with The Grinch henceforth.).
Before this Halloween miracle, though, I have to admit that my Halloween spirits were at an all-time low since my admin team took on a themed costume idea and roped me in. The Wizard of Oz. Being the newest addition to the team, I of course got stuck with Dorothy. Other Halloween Grinches on the team just wore t-shirts with their characters on them. I wanted to do the same, but my Halloween-enthusiast wife wouldn’t allow it. Before I knew it, I had ruby slippers on my feet and a pig-tailed wig on my head, and carried a basket with a stuffed dog inside that was a poor excuse for Toto.
The day progressed as usual. A parent meeting with an extra from The Walking Dead set sitting next to me. Team meeting with the school nurses–a cat, Wonder Woman, and Harley Quinn sitting around the table with me. You know, normal stuff like that. The time finally arrived for my photo op with the district admin team at the Halloween lunch. I smiled and immediately rushed to my office to take the costume off. This brightened my spirits a bit.
I didn’t realize on my drive home, though, that a Halloween miracle was about to occur. All it took was asking my kids kids about their day when I got home. They all had fun. My middle schoolers enjoyed the awkward rite of passage called a school dance. My first grader stayed in character as Ash from Pokemon all day. It was my third grader, though, who went on and on. It was the best day he could remember. Why? Because his teacher and his principal wore the most outrageous costumes he’d ever seen. He LOVED every second of it. He couldn’t get through what he was trying to tell me without laughing. It was just the greatest thing he’d ever seen.
To borrow from Dr. Seuss:
And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?”
And he buzzed three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch though of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe [Halloween],” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
“Maybe [Halloween]…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
I got what it’s about (at least for me). Halloween is an opportunity for adults to stop being so dang stiff all the time. My son loved his teacher before Halloween, don’t get me wrong, but now he sees her as so much more than a teacher. Mrs. Wilkinson is also the really funny lady who likes to have fun and isn’t afraid to be goofy for something light-hearted and silly.
Don’t be afraid to be goofy. When our students connect with us and feel us putting ourselves out there to connect with them, something magical happens. The learning centers in their brains are actually more receptive to the new information we are teaching them. They are more comfortable and happier in these kinds of settings, and happy students learn faster and better. It comes from the dopamine that floods our brains when we are happy and content. Don’t take my word for it. Look it up. It’s real, live science.
So be goofballs. Embrace the ludicrousness of Halloween. Wear your wigs and face paint, and be ridiculous. Your heart, too, may grow little in the process.
And what happened then? Well…in Whoville the say,
That the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day!