There's a correlational relationship in parenting which goes something like this: the older your children get, the more likely you are to bust out speeches that begin with the phrase "when I was your age."
I fear for the future of speechifying in my house - my kids are only five and two, and at least three times this week, I've launched into a "mommy's childhood" discussion.
One was topped off with the intentionally humorous "and I walked uphill both ways - in the snow." My husband and I had a chuckle but, deep down, I couldn't help but wonder if I'd eventually come to believe this time-worn nugget if I repeated it often enough, so that by the age of 85 I'll truly think that the path to my school completely circumvented all known laws of geography and physics.
The trouble is that "when I was your age" applies to such a multitude of daily events, particularly those that lead to the incessant debating that only a five-year-old is truly capable of, that it just slips out so easily.
It finds its way into conversations about the kinds of food we eat ("listen buckeroo, we only had rolled oats, milk and canned salmon growing up - so no, I'm not buying another box of fishie crackers"); the games we play ("honestly, now, we used a goose feather as a sword to play pirates - and we had to take turns because there was only one feather . so no, you can't play another round of Mario Kart, go use your imagination"); the clothes we wear ("The only way we had cartoon characters on our T-shirts was if we drew them on ourselves - trust me, you don't need another article of clothing with Spiderman, Yoda or Batman on it.")
The trouble here is, in case you haven't guessed already, is that I'm only being partially honest: we definitely had more than rolled oats and salmon to eat, there were certainly a few toys beyond a goose feather and I remember my E.T. T-shirt/sneakers/backpack with great affection.
But who's to let a little reality come between a parent and a good speech?
With Halloween comes another round of my unique ability to mix fact and fiction - and vaguely remembered events seen through the foggy lens of 30-some-odd years of life - to convey what seem like valuable life and moral lessons. In this case, it's all about the costumes.
When I was a kid, my mom made most of our early costumes - a clown or a witch, usually - but none of them had a registered TM after the name or came from the store like most of today's get-ups.
At a certain age, we were pretty much on our own to come up with something creative: rummage through the parent's closet, add a little imagination and voila - Halloween magic.
Earlier this week, I was debating costumes with my son: out of the blue, he'd decided he needed to be Darth Vader. When I pointed out that he already had a SpiderMan mask and full get-up, including web-shooter-arm-bands, he insisted that nothing less than the Dark Side would do. Tears were beginning to threaten.
Having recently received a simple Vader costume as a hand-me-down, I began to relent: OK, fine, I said, but I wasn't spending money to buy a new mask or a light saber - we'd just do some creative face painting.
"Mama, I NEED a mask. From the STORE," he pleaded.
I could feel the "at your age" speech building inside me, complete with visions of all the amazing costumes I'd put together with little more than some old clothes and a lot of enthusiasm.
And then I stopped in my tracks as I realized that all my great suggestions might not be quite so very appropriate anymore.
Like the year I dressed up as an "Indian princess", complete with leather fringe, beads and a feather in a headband. I'm not kidding.
Or how about the perennial favourite of "Gypsy woman" - all that took was a few of mom's fancy scarves, some hoop earrings and a total disregard for the centuries long stereotyping of real Romas.
Then there was the Halloween I was a bum/ hobo - one of my dad's shirts, mis-buttoned to look sloppy, along with old sneakers, a fake cigar hanging out of my mouth and a bag on a stick, and boom, I was the classic wayward vagrant. 'Cause, hey, at 11 I didn't really get the complexities of homelessness, mental health issues and the disparity of wealth.
Or the Aunt Jemima costume that a colleague recalls a friend wearing, complete with black face.
So, instead of a lecture about the benefits of a DIY costume, I just smiled. "Sure, buddy, we'll see if we can find a mask."
And I suppose, at the end of the day, his sheer excitement for the big day and, most of all, his genuine gratitude are what really matter.
Even if I do think that ghost-made-from-old-lace-tablecloth is still a lot cooler than anything he'll find at the store.
Christina Myers is a reporter with the Burnaby NOW and a mom of two.