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A Very Special Bean-o-ween

We were only there for a sitcom’s length, but the pumpkin patch had enough morals to fill an entire season of Growing Pains. You’d think being surrounded by 400 pumpkins would only teach your kids about the wondrous variety in the gourd world. Not the case. In that 1,800 seconds, our boys encountered several life lessons. Careful inspection. Making a decision when there are hundreds of options. Sharing. Working together. Completing a mission. Learning to wield a knife.

Here’s just one example: the boys run into a hay-carpeted space that has one thing in a bunch of different varieties. Imagine a little girl wandering the toy aisle at Target and being faced with 300 versions of Barbie (Cheerleader Barbie, Foreclosure Barbie, Immigration Reform Candidate Barbie, et al). With so much to choose from, it puts a premium on the details. Do I already have that Barbie outfit? Will Foreclosure Barbie fit in my Short Sale Barbie condominium? Jackson caught on quick. He took it upon himself to check for rotten spots, dented sides, and smooth bottoms.

Then came Wagongate. Naturally, each of them wanted a wagon, but the pumpkin patch only had a couple for everyone to use. I told the boys that in this economy we had to make one wagon work. So they shared (!). And when we got home, everyone grabbed a tool – a butter knife, a metal spoon – and got to work cleaning and carving.

We’re entering a time of year when as a parent it can be tough to marry the holiday to the message. On Thanksgiving, we give thanks for our blessings, then take 16 servings of candied this and glazed that. During Christmas, our kids connect good will towards men with Best Buy gift cards and cheese and jam baskets. Halloween is the only holiday that has zero message. So as a father, when I found these morals scattered about the pumpkin patch, it felt good to take the credit and not share it with Hallmark.

When we finished carving the pumpkins (a jester and a ninja), we lit them with votives and placed them near the sidewalk. The boys took pictures with them, posing like hunters next to their trophy kill. A job well done. Alan Thicke and Joanna Kerns would be proud.