“Trick or treat!” said the chorus of other children.
“We no have money,” slurred the barely three-year old DragonMonkey last year, holding out his little candy sack sadly, like the world’s tiniest beggar.
When the candy hit the sack he mumbled out a thank you, trotted down the driveway to the next house, knocked on it, and repeated it.
“Hello, there! Are you a little train conductor?”
“No money. We no have money,” he said with a sigh, holding out his little candy bag in dejection.
It was my fault, really. When I’d made plans to join up with the boys’ cousins to go trick or treating, I hadn’t thought through the location of the neighborhood.
There was a train track less than half a mile away, and ever thirty minutes or so, a train went by, complete with piercing train whistle and rattling tracks.
The first time he’d heard it, the DragonMonkey almost came out of his skin.
“TWAIN!” he shrieked at full volume. “TWAIN! TWAIN! TWAINTWAINTWAIN! TWAINTWAIN!”
“Yes, it’s a train.”
“TWAIN! WIDE TWAIN!”
“We can’t. The train isn’t for riding. That train is not a passenger train, it’s actually a cargo train. Cargo trains are an efficient way of transporting goods across—“
“TWAIN! WIDE TWAIN! WIDE TWAIN!”
Choo-chooo! taunted the train, merrily.
“We can’t ride the train – it’s a cargo train,” I continued to try to explain, over his increasingly frantic shouts of “WIDE TWAIN!” With our trip to Knott’s Berry Farm so recent in his memory, the DragonMonkey wasn’t taking no for an answer. In the heat of his passion, explanations of cargo versus passenger weren’t clicking, and I could feel the entire evening slipping away with every toot of the train whistle.
Finally, I hit upon something that seemed to make sense. “We don’t have any money, anyways. Even if it was a passenger train, we wouldn’t be able to go.”
The DragonMonkey cut off mid-whine, and looked up at me. “No money?”
“No money,” I lied solemnly. “We don’t have any money to ride the train.”
Having kids has turned me into such a liar. I used to be honest. Before I had kids, I used to promise myself I would never lie to my kids…. but each day is so long, and lies are so easy. We can’t ride the carousel because it’s asleep. We’re destitute and have no money for anything – train rides, ice creams, McDonald’s, etc. The batteries on every toy are perpetually broken, which is why it no longer plays that high-pitched annoying song.
My poor, disillusioned children. They are being raised on a throne of lies.
The DragonMonkey mulled that over for half a moment, then seemed to accept it. “No money.”
I squirmed guiltily, knowing I had plenty of money in my wallet, but….. “Nope. No money.”
We continued on our trick-or-treating way, and I thought the matter was over… until we came to the next house, where instead of saying “Twick o tweat”, the DragonMonkey felt it was necessary to share the sad news.
“No money. We no have money,” said my tiny little pauper, holding out his candy sack like a tiny, starving train conductor orphan.
It served me right for not telling the truth.
Note: I’d forgotten all about this story. Then, as we left to go trick or treating yesterday, the DragonMonkey stopped in the middle of getting into his car seat, looked over at me and said without preamble, “We don’t have money to ride the trains? No riding trains? We just go trick or treating?”
“Nope,” I lied easily. “No money. Once again, we don’t have any money for the trains.”
“No money,” he said, his voice an exact echo of the last year. “No money to ride the trains.”