Who Decided Pumpkin Carving should be a Thing?

October 31, 2014

Ok, I have to know. Who the h-e-double-hockey-sticks decided that pumpkin carving should be a thing? And what in the world made us decide this would be the year we’d say yes to carving pumpkins after six years of successfully brainwashing convincing our kids that painting was the way to go?

Smart kids. Sucker parents. That’s my story.

For some reason, Gavin was pretty stoked to carve a pumpkin this year. Pumpkin carving chatter must have been all the rage at school this month. 🙂 His eagerness and enthusiasm convinced us to go for it. We picked out pumpkins at Plumper Pumpkin Patch. Gavin and Kenny picked out some tools at Target. We were ready.

And then things went like this:

1) Gavin, Grace and friends carefully arranged the pumpkins they’d picked out into a “lovely” scene out front of our house upon bringing them home. They also took liberties with some festive stakes and put them all around the front yard. It looked a little like this. (And because I have been traveling and then crazy with work, it stayed like this until this week.)

And, yes, those ARE price tags on the yard stakes. #classy

2) Kenny asked Gavin if he wanted to carve pumpkins last week at some point. Gavin being seven and, well…Gavin,  was focused on what he wanted to do at that very moment and it was not carving pumpkins. (I was traveling for work, so not sure exactly what went down, but I am guessing Kenny did mental cartwheels because he was seemingly out out of the woods on this whole pumpkin carving scene. He had to go to Paris this week and figured the desire would pass before his return last night. I love his hopefulness. And his forgetfulness that this is Gavin and once he sets his mind on something, he typically doesn’t let it go.)

3) Fast forward to yesterday. Gavin reminded me no less than 82 times that “tomorrow is Halloween and we still haven’t carved our pumpkins”. I assured him I didn’t forget (even though I was hoping he had!) and that we had all day tomorrow to take care of it.

4) Sigh.

5) During dinner last evening, Gavin reminded a fresh-off-the-plane Kenny that we still hadn’t carved pumpkins. Tired-and-jet-lagged Kenny tried to talk Gavin out of carving by buttering him up with compliments about the nice pumpkin scene he helped create out front. Gavin was having none of it. His replies to Kenny’s reasoning were actually quite …dramatic? fresh? Not sure how to describe it. “Well, you promised we could carve pumpkins. I guess we are breaking that promise. (sigh)”; “How much did the carving tools cost? $5? Probably should have just flushed that down the toilet because we’re wasting it anyway since we aren’t carving pumpkins.” I assured him again that we had all day tomorrow to take care of it and we could do it in the morning.

I wish I could have eaten those words for dessert.

Cue this morning.

6:15 a.m.

I am off today, but got up early to tie up a few loose ends for work before enjoying the day. Gavin was right on top of it. He heard me stir and go downstairs and before my coffee was even brewing, he bounded down the steps. “Hey! I didn’t even know it was morning because it’s still dark out! Know what today is, Mom? HALLOWEEN! AND WE GET TO CARVE PUMPKINS.”

I smiled and chuckled to myself about his persistence / memory / obsessiveness.

I made my coffee and settled into my chair to finish up some work before enjoying my day off.

You know what happened, right?

Yep, he bounced around no less than 10 times in 90 minutes asking me when we could start carving pumpkins. Dear heavens, child. Give me a minute – the sun is not even up yet!

We finally started carving at 8:30 a.m.

And by 8:36 a.m., I realized it should not be called ‘pumpkin carving’. It should be called ‘pumpkin hacking’ or ‘pumpkin mutilation via what is pretty much the equivalent of using a toothpick to cut steak’.

Seriously. Do people enjoy this? Yea, yea, I get the whole making memories with kids thing. But I am telling you this probably did more mental harm than positive memory making. Read on.

It starts of happily enough – you know – nice pumpkins waiting on a nice workspace waiting to be carved, like this. Practically a scene from a Martha Stewart magazine, right? And couple it with two happy, excited kids, and you’ve pretty much written the October edition, right?

But then stuff gets weird. Because after you spent a solid four minutes wearing out your arm muscles jabbing a tiny little knife into the bottom of the pumpkin to facilitate “easier and cleaner carving”, you quickly realize that as the adult, you’re going to have to assume the role of Pumpkin gynecologist. Which looks a little something like this…

Never aspired to be a Pumpkin Gynecologist

Never aspired to be a Pumpkin Gynecologist, yet, here I am

Within 30 seconds of me starting to scoop out the innards, Gavin turned up his nose and said, “Man, this smells.” I smirked. I knew this would happen. He hates anything slimy or dirty or gross. I suggested that while I was cleaning out the innards, he and Grace should start picking out the seeds and putting them into a bowl so we could roast them. Might as well go all in, yea? Grace loved this part. She was smushing the guts in her hands and giggling away. Gavin used his index finger and thumb – only – and gently picked out the seeds that were the cleanest or the furthest away from any guts.

He may have touched a grand total of six seeds. He looked at me with a furrowed brow and said,”Um, Mom? I don’t really like this part.” Hahahaha. I knew this would happen. Why did we say yes to this? I know these kids and knew this would not be happy fun times for them. I also know, however, that it’s probably better to let them experience something and decide for themselves vs. me predicting what the outcome will be. 😉

He then said, “Can we skip this part and start carving?” I told him carving starts once the pumpkin is cleaned out. He ran to the bathroom to wash his hands and, after coming back to the kitchen, sat back in his chair and watched TV – hahaha. This is going swimmingly. Grace, on the other hand, who had previously expressed little to no interest in carving, was delighted with the pumpkin guts and seed picking. Ok, one happy kid. Could be worse, right?

Pumpkin pattern application

Pumpkin pattern application

We were finally ready to start carving. And, apparently, you need to hold the pumpkin in your lap for stability. This is gonna be good. I can tell. I wet the patterns and applied them to the pumpkins according to the directions. And apparently you are supposed to get them on there ‘wrinkle-free’. Yea, no. Is that even possible? After ripping the pattern three times, I went with the ‘took the pants out of the dryer and let them sit in the laundry basket for three days before folding them’ look. I figured I could fudge the shapes if needed.

I started to “carve”, and once again, quickly realized this is not a job for kids! It’s barely a job for adults! What the…? I can barely get the tiny knives through the flesh at 38 – how the heck is a seven-year-old to do it? I got things started and once I got going, I kept going. Gavin looked at me and said, “Mom, can I have a turn with carving?” I told him it was a little tricky. His face fell, so I let him try (against my better judgement). As soon as he touched the tool, it was out of the pumpkin and stabbing my forearm. He panicked and screamed, “Sorry, Mom! That was an accident.” I was cracking up. (I wasn’t hurt.) I gave him some pointers and let him try again. Yea…this time, I got jabbed in the chest. Then the glasses. And then he was done with carving. “You know what, Mom? This is too hard. You want to finish this? I want to watch TV. I can help you put the candle in and put the bottom back on.”

YEP. Could have written this before it even happened.

Are we having fun yet?

Are we having fun yet?

About 30 minutes later, I was done with his pumpkin. I felt pretty proud of myself because I didn’t curse out loud. I did, however, say I was going to cry at least twice and whined that my hand was killing me. I am quite sure I have arthritis in my right hand, or at the very least, will have a claw hand this evening for Trick or Treating. It actually works out pretty nicely, though, because I am not one to dress up, and this gives me some Halloween flair.

Pumpkin multilation in progress

Pumpkin multilation in progress

I told Grace I needed a little break before carving her pumpkin. She started crying. Sigh. I asked her why she was crying and she said, “Because you said your hand hurt, so I know it’s going to hurt too bad to do my pumpkin.” Woot woot – Happy Halloween with a nice side of guilt. I told her I just needed to let my hand rest a bit and that I would, indeed, carve her pumpkin. And I did. And when I was done, she looked at her pumpkin and said, “That’s it? I thought it would be bigger.”

Yep, sweetie, that’s it.

Next year, we paint. And buy pumpkin seeds at the store.


Happy Halloween, everyone!

Gavin and his pumpkin

Happy guy – he liked the results, just not the process.

Less than thrilled with the results

That’s it?

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