Faye’s Paint


I just staggered out of the bathroom smelling of toothpaste. This is because I had carefully smeared it all over my face. The only reason I didn’t include my arms is because I was alerted by the smell of wintergreen.

“Odd,” I thought. “I don’t recall my sunscreen smelling like that.”

Well, when I stared back in the mirror at the mess I’d made, I was reminded of Halloween which makes perfect sense as October – at least the end of it – is the time when the costumes and face paint came out.

In Canada, it is cold at the end of October, and sometimes there is snow, and many parents opt to paint their children’s faces rather than let them have masks so that they don’t slip on sidewalks or get whacked on roads when their vision is impaired by said masks.

Psychologists have a lot to say about masking. They refer to it as a process in which an individual changes or masks their natural personality to conform to social pressures, abuse and/or harassment. So as a mother, what does that tell me when my kids decide to be ninjas in turtle suits, or a large yellow sponge? The latter was an easy one to fix as all we needed was a large box painted yellow with two peepholes. It proved to be a bit tricky to sit down in though, and then there was the problem our son had with being pursued by delighted kindergarteners yelling “SpongeBob!”

There were many interesting masks over the years. Faces painted purple to match fluffy homemade suits of the same colour, blackened noses on little mice, but perhaps the most ingenious was that sported by one of our teenage sons. The High School told students they could dress up so our son put a pickle in a baggie, taped it below his nose and went as Crazy Pickle Moustache Man. He wasn’t exactly a hit with the ladies, and the pickle finally had to come off when it sprung a leak and the juice kept dripping into his mouth, but his pals thought he was pretty cool.

And then, there is CANDY: the fuel of choice for millions and the thing that invariably remained uppermost in their little sugar-starved minds. Halloween is when they get to take candy from strangers.

When we had our first child, we did not allow sugar in the house. His first birthday cake was sugar free (tasted terrible). When at age two we gave him his first ice cream cone, the poor kid was so happy that we relented and started to give him a bit more from time to time. It was the beginning of the end. When the first set of twins followed, sugar was in the house and it was mostly downhill from there.

I declare that it is not possible to be sugar-free in a sugar-fueled world. So we just kind of went with the flow, and watched as each October flowed into November’s flu season. It is not a coincidence that flu happens when immune systems crash from sugar overload.

The only positive thing I can think of about Halloween candy is that in a world of supersizing, markets suddenly flip and sell tiny chocolate bars.

Truth be told, it was in the direction of the cupboard and those tiny treats that I was headed when I was sporting the unusual wintergreen-scented face paint. I’d stashed the big variety pack there. Just in case any kids came to our door.

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