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I Have To Take A Half-Day At Work Because Two Kids And Mandatory Halloween Parades

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shutterstock_148337324I didn’t complain for a single minute about the lengthy phase-in process at my kids’ school. I had three months prior notice and gave my job plenty of fair warning, and repeated reminders, that I would have to be there to help my two-year-old and four-year-old children adjust to the school year.  But I have my limits.
I met those limits when I got the notice about the Halloween parades for each of my kids classes. Last year I missed the Halloween celebration because school was cancelled that week for Superstorm Sandy.  I dutifully went to every other event — the Christmas celebration, the end of the year “performance” and my son’s birthday.  They were all things I could get behind.  But Halloween?
My two-year-old brought her notice home first.
Please join us for our Halloween Parade from 10:30-11:30.  Your child should arrive in his/her costume.  Students will be dismissed after the festivities.  
That’s when I really started to rethink the huge owl costume my daughter wanted so badly.  There was no way she was going to sit in that for the ninety minutes prior to the start.
My pre-K son brought his notice home second.
Please join us for our Halloween Parade from 11:30-12:30.  RSVP with number to attend (maximum four guests per student).  No siblings allowed.
Four guests?  I wasn’t sure I was even going to go and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to get three other people to show up at 11:30 on a Thursday. But after I got over that shock, the logistical issues were slapping me in the face.  No siblings allowed was really at odds with my daughter’s early dismissal.  They were all in the same small-ish school.  Why were they making this as difficult as possible?  Couldn’t they just do a joint celebration?
I know I vowed to have a better attitude about Halloween, but this was hard to swallow.  How was I going to explain needing half a day off to watch ten kids at a time march around the playground? I have trouble believing this is really a time-honored tradition that begs mandatory parental attendance.  Isn’t it enough that I promised to take them trick-or-treating at the end of the day?  Isn’t it enough that they get to wear their costumes to school that day?  I’m not against that. I’ve had their costumes ready for weeks.  But do I really need to be there to see the other two-year-olds and four-year-olds itching in their hot costumes or removing one important detail after the other so that the adorable cowboy just looks like a Portland hipster by the time I arrive? I also need to state that I’m doing the bare minimum — as in just showing up.  There are other parents that are actually doing things to make all this happen. I can’t imagine what kind of commitment they are making to this.
Suddenly I am envious of those schools who refuse to celebrate Halloween.  Or at least those that make parent involvement voluntary.