The Nightmare in November (or a Dad’s Guide to Coping with Complete F&@king Chaos)

I used to drive past this (Dorset) sign at least once a week when I was younger and remember thinking to myself: “What could possibly go wrong?”

The same thought comes to me every year as we reach the end of October and parents face the prospect of Halloween and Fireworks Night in the space of a week.

I was going my to write “Whoever came up with that idea needs to be put against a wall and shot” but it seems there’s no one left to blame. No one to blame for a time of year that brings together terrifying Zombies, high explosives & massive bonfires with copious amounts of sugary treats & feral, sleep-deprived kids / adults.

One of the culprits (Guy Fawkes) faced a fate worse than death (having his testicles cut off and watching his guts pulled from his body whilst being hung lightly from the neck) and got out of it by jumping to his death. The other was a Pagan Celt of some description who was probably burnt at the stake for witchcraft or something. So I guess they both got their just desserts.
Whilst it’s a comfort knowing this, it doesn’t stop us having to cope with a sugar-fuelled shitstorm of epic proportions every year. A month that starts with your little Gangsters enjoying the (frankly sinister) custom of threatening people on their doorsteps (or begging, depending on your perspective) and using rods of red hot gunpowder to recreate the sword-fighting scene from the Princess Bride, ends with a frenzy of Christmas anticipation.

There’s no way of escaping the Nightmare in November. In the absence of someone to blame, all that’s left is to find some solace in the mayhem – here’s how:

1. Work with the sugar. Just as sugar gives your kids the relentless energy and stamina of 1000 Terminators, it sets the scene for a quality workout. Want some cardio? Try spending 15m looking for your lost child in a bonfire night crowd then chasing them around for 10m as you try to catch and reprimand them. Need to work your core? Trying holding them down whilst avoiding their flailing feet and fists as they work through their 5th, epic, sugar-induced tantrum of the day. There is no better ‘spot buddy’ than a child high on Haribos.

2. Scare the kids. If Halloween is one thing, it’s a Carte Blanche to get your own back on your little sleep-deprivers by scaring the living crap out of them. I can testify from my experience last weekend that there are few more exhilarating things than witnessing the look on your child’s face (and the absolute terror in their scream) as they round a bend in a maze only to be confronted by a very realistic Zombie brandishing a bucket of sweets.

3. Play with Fire. there’s not a Dad alive who doesn’t have a pyromaniac devil inside waiting to burst out. When else in the year do you have an excuse to burn stuff in the garden and experiment with high-explosives? And when else in the year will you, as a Father, have the absolute, adoring, spellbound attention of your children? Never is the answer. November is your one shot at having a semblance of authority. Go forth and torrefy, my friends.

4. Go undercover. Most other times of the year, your Jabba-sized eye bags, grey complexion and blank, miserable expression marks you out immediately as a Knackered Old Dad. But not in November. In November you are simply another Zombie in the crowd. You can go undercover, moving amongst the dressed-up hordes in disguise. For one night only, your haggard features are in your favour – don’t miss your opportunity.

5. Drink. No explanation needed. Just drink.

So there you have it – just five things you can do to get through the sugar rush and firestorm that is November. Best of luck, my friends.

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