It wasn’t going to be like last year. Last year, the kids were all fired up about carving a jack-o-lantern, but as soon as the “lid” was off the pumpkin, I had an all-out mutiny on my hands as they staunchly refused to touch what Katie aptly termed “pumpkin poo”. I had to threaten total pumpkin annihilation just to get them to reach their hands into the pumpkin and make a show of pulling out a few seeds for the camera. In the end, who was it that actually scraped stringy pumpkin fibers away from the shell and scooped out all the slimy pumpkin guts with her hands, while the eager little munchkins watched?
In a word: me. Just like the Little Red Hen, whose bread making ambitions only interested her neighbors once the smell of a fresh-baked loaf was wafting through the air, Mom was left virtually alone in the act of jack-o-lantern creation.
This year, it was going to be different. For one thing, the kids were going to get their hands dirty. I would scrape, and they would scoop-a team effort. Also, Paul would be home this time. After carving last year’s pumpkin in the afternoon while he was at work, I was looking forward to having another pair of hands (not to mention well-muscled, pumpkin-gut-scraping arms) on the scene.
It worked beautifully. Mostly.
Paul handled the sharp knives this time, an acute relief. He cut the top off the pumpkin in a fun star pattern, and the kids and I got to work on the insides.
I scraped a goodly amount of pumpkin glop loose from the gourd’s walls, and then set Katie and Caleb to scooping. They put up a token defense, but when they saw I was serious, they dug in. At least, Katie did. Caleb took one big wad of orange gunk in his hands to transfer it to the bowl and his stomach lurched in a huge dry heave of disgust. His gags became more pronounced and we finally had to excuse him from pumpkin poo duty altogether for fear that he would actually throw up. The combination of the slimy texture and the fruity smell was just too much for him, I guess.
After the pumpkin was cleaned out, I set to work picking the pumpkin seeds out of the bowl so that we could roast them while Paul and the kids put their heads together and consulted over pumpkin design. Katie and Caleb had been drawing proposals for weeks, and they gathered them up proudly to let Daddy look over them. He took one of Katie’s ideas for a skull-and-crossbones design and made some changes to incorporate the big square teeth that Caleb wanted. Both kids nodded approval, Paul sketched the pattern on the pumpkin’s surface with a pencil, and the carving commenced.
The four of us munched on pumpkin seeds while the finishing touches were applied to Bony the Jack-o-lantern, and then we carried him out to the porch to survey the effect.
I think I like this year’s pumpkin best of all the ones we’ve ever made. The Little Red Hen had lots of help.