‘Tis the season for some bribing.

Fa la la la la la la la la... oops, sorry, wrong season.

I remember when my boys were younger; we were the Four Musketeers this time of year. We'd hit all the haunted train rides, pumpkin patches, spooky junkyards and corn mazes around. We'd eat ginger snaps and drink apple cider, and look for the prettiest mums. We love fall, and we adore Halloween.

Now I have to bribe them to spend time with me. Whether it's the mall, the grocery store, or a fall fest, they want to know what they can get. And I have fallen victim to this mentality.

"Who wants to go to Oktoberfest?" I say.

Derisive silence. "Maybe if we remain quiet, she will go away." I assume that is the thought process.

"Corn maze today, guys?"

No, they say. There are good waves. Sorry.

"It's only a couple of hours, the waves will still be there. How about if you come with me, I let you get something?" I offer.

Eyebrows raise. This is getting interesting.

"Like what?" they say.

"We'll hit the candy shop on our way out," I say. "And that little toy shop."

"That toy shop has dumb stuff," they shrug. Interest wanes.

I consider going by myself. I can walk through the coffee shop and the candle shop without worrying that they will snort coffee beans or break priceless Hummels. No one taps my shoulder to tell me my son is peeing on their property, or that they're eating too much complimentary candy corn. It's ... peaceful.

But it's more fun with them, and I am constantly clinging to the past. I want the old days when I could strap them into their car seats, and they didn't have a say. Now I have to prostrate myself for company.

"C'mon, we'll go the bakery and get pumpkin cookies, and we'll take a haunted train ride. Whatt'ya say?"

"We're too old for a haunted train ride, Mom," they say.

"Your eight year old brother isn't," I remind them.

"Yes, I am," he says from under hooded eyelids. How an eight year old develops such jaded cynicism I will never know. But he looks at me, with that bored expression, and I tempted to remind him that he still sleeps with his baby blanket.

"Can't you older boys act like a haunted train ride is cool, and take him on it? Do you have to destroy all of his illusions? You still loved that train ride when you were eight, does he deserve less?"

A lot of questions, they don't know which to answer.

"Um, yes? I mean, no!"

I've had it for the day. I begin to get ready to leave.

"What happened to you guys? What happened to your sense of whimsy, your taste for adventure? I am going by myself, and you guys are going to be sorry."

They barely look up as I collect my purse and keys. I pause at the door.

"I'll let you on the paddle boats," I offer.

"Sold!" They run after me.

We had a lovely day. They each picked three different color mums, and two cornstalks and a pumpkin. Each boy picked a pumpkin that is shaped like his personality.

One round.

One angular.

And one cracked.