Let Halloween begin, flash back from within, in the land of "Mayo" (Mayo Clinic psychiatry), where, ages ago truths were told of Halloween of old. Halloween week was a screech, truly and paradoxically. I felt properly gleefully gloomy and grim. Since no child in the class had a "bug" phobia, I had planned with gruesome bliss.
"For I am cantankerous already,
But I say that with a grin
Since my little spirited sprites
Discover unexpected surprises
From their person within."
My computer savvy kids nervously had maneuvered their way through the gauzy web and had settled on the carpet near my webbed chair. The Witch Has an Itch by Donna Guthrie and illustrated by Katy Keck Arnsteen (Aladdin, 1990) waited for us. The story unfolded the dilemma of Gormelda, a wicked witch and proud of it. She was the meanest magic maker in all the land with a major psychosomatic glitch - evil made her itch. To keep her reputation, she scratched and itched incessantly until it was unbearable. She sought help from the powerful wizard, Womack. He explained that there were different kinds of reputations. She could be the nicest witch in all the land. Her choice. Where does one start? Womack advised that she could start from scratch - with a smile.
The class discussed Halloween stories and cultures from around the world. They computer researched what interested them, such as: The Celt's huge bonfires to scare away demons and wearing ugly apparel to fool the demons into thinking they were one of them and would do them no harm; Roman festival to honor Pomona, goddess of Gardens and Orchards; how Halloween got it's name, the short way of saying All Hallow's Eve, the night before All Saint's Day ((which happens to be the day I was born). I tried to act saintly, but my students quickly pointed out that was a long stretch. Or, as Jas quickly stated, "You're pushing it, Dr. K."
Sensitively, we discussed Halloween relating to religion, spirits, death, and superstitions. The children took the opportunity to tell of concerns of death and things that particularly frightened them. They poured forth suggestions for handling fear and nightmares appropriate for modern times: Leave lights on; changing the channel in your mind like television; shutting down their minds or delete like a computer; telling someone; writing down their fears. For the older kids it reversed the negative caveat of their own fears by sharing their wisdom. The younger students' anxieties seem relieved.
Emily Dickson, I'm not but the empowering poems and stories collected from their research reflected truly heartfelt fears and solutions from within.
The grins of Halloween conquering fear. The yearly positive caveat on Halloween Day;)
Kaye is a teacher and author of multiple works including Valerie Valentine Visits Vincent Vampire