Sunday, October 31, 2010

You Don't Know Jack by Hailey Edwards

Jack O’ Lantern that is. Or maybe you do know Jack. I didn’t receive a formal introduction until my daughter turned four and decided she wanted to grow her own pumpkins for Halloween. To which I replied, “Let Mommy get back to you on that.”

See, I grew up on a horse farm way out in the country. We had no neighbors for miles, and the ones we did have were more likely to shoot at a trio of Power Rangers than consider the date and the fact most burglars don’t show up in red, pink, and green spandex holding loot bags.

So when my little girl gave me her patented “Momma-I-want” look, I knew things were about to change. I learned how to grow and when to harvest pumpkins, even though we lived in an apartment at the time. And I learned that the sight of pumpkins growing in a planter was so mystical that kids from next door were compelled by forces beyond their control to pluck the unripened fruits from the vine and smash them on the pavement.

I was not amused, but I persevered. After all, I had a four-year-old hanging her Halloween hopes on me. (I also had a baby girl armed with good aim and a water pistol guarding our pumpkin-filled planter through a crack in the window above it.)

Once we finally had a good candidate for carving, I hit my next road bump. Now, even a country bumpkin like me had seen her share of jack-o-lanterns and paper luminaries. Though I’d never made either, I felt confident I could make nose and face-like holes. I had tealight candles and a carving knife. I had craft books and matches. I had a drop cloth and a recipe for baked pumpkin seeds. I was ready. It was go time. After all the hard work and study, Jack was getting O’Lanterned that night.

I called my daughter into the kitchen and she took a seat across the table from me. I lifted the knife and lined the blade up on the outline I’d carefully drawn earlier. I gave her a triumphant smile and sank the blade into the meat of the pumpkin…and she started screaming bloody murder.

It had never occurred to her how those holes got into jack-o-lanterns. She had assumed we would plant pumpkins and they would ripen into the gap-tooth grinning Jacks she saw on other people’s porches. When our only usable pumpkin turned out to be plain, she assumed all the Jacks had been smashed. So when I started to carve the little guy, she was horrified.

To make a long and painful story about how you try to do for your kids what wasn’t done for you a little shorter, I’ll close with saying our Jack that first year was a very unique gentleman. He had two My Little Pony band aids on his noggin and his eyes and smile were drawn with Crayola’s best.

Leave a comment about pumpkins, carving, parent-fails, or pretty much anything else and you’ll be entered to win a $10 gift card to My Bookstore and More.

To see what other mischief I manage, check out my website at
Happy Halloween!


Jennifer Mathis said...

I always start out with those pumpkin stensils to make a great picture carved on the pumpkin but at the end its just me and the trusty butcher knife hacking away at it lol

ladydi6497 said...

It never fails to amaze me how a child's mind works. My son was never into carving pumpkins. I have not carved one in years (except to cook it for pies, etc.)

Thank you for sharing your story.


elaing8 said...

When I was a kid my parents always let us draw the faces on out pumpkins and they would carve them out. Some of them were just horrific,not cause of scary faces just because we did a horrible job of drawing the faces no matter what we did they cut them out exactly how we drew it.

Judy said...

I loved your story. We all try to do for our children, especially if we did not do it when we were growing up. I have a 4 year old grandson and you never know what is going on in their little minds. I believe they are more grown up now a days, more than we were when we were that age. I think the painted pumpkins are the prettiest anyway:)


Carlie Angelus said...

OMG, this is too funny! I'm an absolute "no go" when it comes to growing anything (other than babies in my belly). I have the farthest thing from a green thumb imaginable. What would that be, a black thumb? :-0

Also, when it comes to carving pumpkins--count me out. It always ends up looking like a very sad pumpkin that's been stabbed by a deranged lunatic.


Tabitha Blake said...

Kids can be so cute. The things they believe are just so precious. Those are the things you remember and carry with you. The fun part is telling them as the get older. I love to tell stories and embarrass my kids. LOL! The joys of being a mom.

Lil said...

That is such a cute story.

When my kids were very young we lived abroad. Ther were no pumpkins to be carved in the locality but a group of expats decided that we would celebrate Halloween as normal including trick-or-treating. There was a pottery village nearby and we were in luck that they made a hard squash shaped decorative container. So negotiations were made for the wet clay to be molded by the factory and that our group of kids could borrow part of the workshop to carve into the soft clay and then paint on a glaze. The jack-o-lanterns would then be fired and we could pick them up later that week. It went very smoothly and though none of the pieces looked terribly professional, the kids and parents all loved the experience.

Jean P said...

That was such a cute story. Thanks for sharing it. I haven't carved a pumpkin in years. And when I did, they weren't pretty.

skpetal at hotmail dot com

Brandlwyne aka Brandy B said...

lol That was hilarious!!! Kids are soo much fun, you never know what they are going to say. I once carved Barney into a pumpkin for my girls along with Tinky Winky and Winnie the Pooh (all from looking at color books, I might add) but it was so fun tha they are sooo worth it they grow up so quickly!!!


Rain said...

What a cute story. :D I have no experience on pumpkin carving at all.

Cathy M said...

I loved your story, especially the part about your daughter, the pumpkin protector.

caity_mack at yahoo dot com


I used to have my kids paint the smaller pumpkin. It is easier.


Lil said...

Oops...had forgotten to leave my details

little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

annalisa said...

I enjoyed your story. I used to help my hubby carve the pumpkins when our four kids were small. As they grew up, they always wanted to design and carve their own pumpkins so we let them do their own. All of the pumpkins looked pretty interesting when they were done. Now that they are adults and on their own, they still like to come home and carve the pumpkins we get. And I'm more than happy to let them! :)


joder said...

I am horrible at carving pumpkins. I draw a pattern using a marker, but the knife always seems to get out of control and I end up cutting too much. It always ends up looking like a child did it.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Leatherdykeuk said...

I carved the demon Jasfoup into mine today :)

Maria said...

Oh Hailey...I loved your Jack O Lantern story...I am a horrible carver so a few years ago I got lucky and found two large ceramic JackOLanterns at a store and I bought them. I put small jar candles on the inside and put them out on the muss no


*yadkny* said...

I grew up on a farm too and we still grow our own pumpkins:)


Amy S. said...

Very cute story. I carved a pumpkin this year. Instead of starting it at the top, I did it at the bottom and it was so much easier to clean out and you can put the candle on the bottom and then lower the pumpkin over it. So much easier. A tip from Martha Stewart. She has some great pumpkin ideas.

Amy S. said...

Forgot my email.

Taryn Kincaid said...

What a sweet story. I love it.

Bizarrely, although our stoop was always adorned with elaborate punkinry, looking back on it, I realize they were always costumed and painted and otherwise transformed. But NEVER with sharp objects. The 'rents liked decorated, but didn't cotton to the idea of rotting pulpy flesh all over the front yard.

So I think I was actually in college before I saw Mr. Jack go under the blade. Huge freakin' knife. Wielded by one of my unsteadier male friends. Gave me nightmares, it did.

I'm with your little girl. I'll leave the carving to the surgeons!

Linda Henderson said...

I remember when my oldest daughter was small she wanted us to make jack-o-lanterns so I dutifully went to the store and bought 4 of them to carve up. Well, needless to say when she found out she had to stick her hands in and clean out all the goop on the first one, the other 3 got painted on. So when my youngest daughter wanted them I thought I stood a chance,not so much. Not only did she not like the goop but she proceeded to gag and almost throw up because she didn't like the smell. So once again, painted pumpkins.

seriousreader at live dot com

Kim S. said...

Happy Halloween everyone!

Oh, my, goodness what a wonderful story that was Hailey!! You are a wonderful storyteller and a new to me author, so I will be adding your books to my TBB list!!

Last weekend we purchased two pumpkins totaling $92(yep, you read it!) They were the largest on Bird's Big Pumpkins lot! Husband and daughter HAD to have them!! LOL Almost didn't get them out of the van or onto the porch! My daughter, the culinary student, carved her's into Sponge Bob. Hubby did a major scary face!

thewildtwo @ gmail [dot] com

Victoria said...

I grew up in a big city, but my hubby was raised here on the edge of farm/cattle land in OK. His family always had large gardens. We now live in a suberb and have a med-to-sm back yard, but still have a big garden. We only plant every-other year for various reasons. Last year, we planted almost everything. When we talked about planting pumpkins, he told me about how early in the growing cycle you can either scrap designs into the skin or you can cover up areas to make "white" designs. This way you don't have to carve the pumpkin but it will still have a design, and it will stay 'fresh' the whole month (and longer). The things one learns growing up in the country (he teaches me something new every spring)!

Beth said...

I planted pumpkins one year. They didn't grow very well. Now we just buy them(or we used to before the kids grew up. My big thing for Halloween was that til they turned thirteen I would make their costumes myself instead of them having to get those flimsy things you can buy in stores and their dad would help with any accessories like swords, shields and such.

Annie Nicholas said...

this contest is closed