And, of course, all these events require some kind of costume…
Which brings me back the annual Halloween costume excitement-slash-anxiety. I have a vision of Samson wearing an ingenious costume that is totally original, yet recognizable. He will win costume contests. He will ring doorbells on Halloween, and homeowners will open the door and be astonished. They will think, “wow, this kid’s mom is totally creative and cool! they deserve lots of candy!”
So yes, I’m using Halloween as an opportunity to express myself through my child. That in itself is a recipe for disaster. But it seemed harmless in the early stages…
My first idea was to comb his hair over and put him in silk pj’s. Voila– Hugh Hefner.
What if Rob and I were Playboy Bunnies?
Another idea: Simon and Garfunkel? Samson could be Paul, and Rob would be Art. A little blazer and cap…
With his new haircut, Samson looked very clean-cut. Rob came up with a fun one: Don Draper! Perfect.
And here’s the other issue: Samson’s old enough that he wants to have a say in what he puts on. It’s cute that he wants to assert himself and have his own identity and all, but it was so much easier when I could just play dress-up with him and he’d smile.
Here’s an oblivious one-year-old Samson on Halloween last year. He had no idea he was in a Newsies costume.
I hated the idea of going the typical kid costume route, not to mention gender-stereotyping. But the thought of him being without a costume was too sad for me. Kids are supposed to be excited about what they’re going to “be for Halloween.” And nice try getting any candy without a costume. You’re lucky if you even get pennies for Unicef.
So I hit the local vintage shop, and found a bunch of possibilities. I bought a couple options, because A) they were cheap and B) there are so many Halloween events, he can use more than one.
I bought a cape I figured any kid would think was cool. It was shiny and blue and had a mask attached. I believe it’s a batman cape. And I found some pieces of a cowboy outfit — a vest and pants with fringes. Sweet — Samson loves cowboys. I also ordered a cowboy hat and bandana online to complete the outfit.
He was more than prepared for Halloween.
When I took The batman cape out of the bag, Rob said it smelled like dirty feet or B.O. He suggested I dry-clean it but I can’t justify paying more for dry-cleaning than the cost of the item. It turned out the smell was the roasting cumin seeds on the stove. (Try it out — they really do smell like body odor!) But Samson wouldn’t wear the cape anyway. He just stared at it. I put it around him and he cried.
Trying to get a toddler to understand why he’s going to wear a costume is a challenge. He doesn’t get that if he dresses up, he will get candy. (On Halloween, we’ve all silently agreed to dismiss the whole no-food-as-reward policy.) And I’m sure he could sense my anxiety about him wearing a costume. I’m a slow learner in parenting school, but I’m coming to understand that the more I want him to do something, the more he will protest. Duh.
Since the cape didn’t work, I saved the cowboy duds till the hat arrived. When I revealed it, he cried. He wanted Daddy to put it on. It doesn’t fit Daddy. It fit my pinhead but that wasn’t good enough. Only Daddy.
You’d think I would give up there. No, my son was going to wear some sort of costume. It’s Halloween, and it’s supposed to be fun, goddammit…
So, I ordered a firefighter costume. He loves all things fire-fighting.
I was able to justify buying yet another costume because the fire-fighter ensemble is not called a costume, it’s called a “role play set.” That is genius marketing. This way, you’re not wasting 25 bucks on a Halloween costume that the kid will only wear once (especially after you’ve already bought two others). you’re buying them a chance to role play, use their imaginations, explore.
So samson has a makeshift, second-hand cowboy outfit, a dirty bat man cape, and a firefighter “role-play” set. A cowboy, a superhero, and a fire fighter?! I thought i’d never be this mom. this is the equivalent of buying a girl Barbies. What happened to originality? Creativity? Gender-neutrality?
Guess what. He cried when I tried to get him in the fire-fighter outfit. Big shocker. Halloween is the New Years of kid holidays. If your expectations are too high, it will end in tears. If you try to impose any expectations on your kid, it will most certainly end in tears.
By now we’ve gone to a couple events at which he’s put on the fire hat and seemed okay, and eventually thrown it off. The fun he experienced really had nothing to do with what he was wearing. In terms of other kids’ costumes, there’s a lot of sweating through fleece Elmo and Pumpkin suits. Eventually, the parents relent and take them off.
Now it’s Halloween and I’m — believe it or not — letting go of my attachment to Samson wearing a costume. This is parenting 101, right? Stepping back and letting kids be who they are?
And if Samson gets no candy, it’s probably for the best. (I’d be the one eating most of it anyway.)
What are YOU gonna be for Halloween? Feel free to share your spookiest parenting moments…
What happened to cutting two holes in a sheet? Mom did that until we got high-maintenance.
I really feel for the kids sweating through fleece. If you want a kid to be something fleece-y, you should just tape a few token cotton balls to their shirt. Full fleece is cruel.
I’m with you on the gender stereotyping. It doesn’t encourage free thinking. Next year, I think Samson should be a slutty nurse.
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17:58 on October 31st, 2011
"Thanks! Did mom really put holey sheets on us? I can’t imagine how a kid would keep that on for more than two seconds. I wonder if she let us have a hole for our mouths, so that we could eat candy.
You’re right — fleece is cruel, especially in L.A. Except when the sun sets. Then it’s downright cozy.
Slutty nurse! Good one. I’m going to search for size 3T fishnets…"
21:37 on October 31st, 2011
"BTW, you look really good with long, slutty hair."
18:21 on October 31st, 2011
"I thought so too! The Playboy Bunny body doesn’t hurt either."
21:39 on October 31st, 2011
"Scare-larious, Marian! Great post. Thanks.
(I was Garth from Wayne’s World. Not really recommended for Samson, unless you can teach him the “schwang!” move.)"
21:48 on October 31st, 2011
"Thanks for reading, Russell!
Garth’s a classic. Yes, “shwing” is hard to pull off with a toddler weenie. But it would be cute to make him say it."
22:34 on October 31st, 2011
"Oh, you’ve brought back so many Halloween memories. Yes, there was the ghost attempt. Simple! And once you used magic markers all over it, you didn’t want to take it off. I don’t remember ever buying pre-made costumes, although I probably did, but I was too insistent that costumes had to be original and homemade. And I tried to convince myself and both of you that your creativity was involved more than mine. I do remember spending hours and hours making costumes (Marian- do you want my sewing machine? It’s all yours– then you can spend countless hours doing something insignificant, too, but you can also make curtains). There was a chocolate chip cookie costume, a dragon costume (we kept the tail for years), and a Grover’s garbage can for Laura. That last one provoked a comment from Dad about Laura’s self image, i.e. Why would you want to think of yourself as a garbage can? There was a totally unsuccessful attempt at an elephant costume; the trunk kept falling off, and that produced voluminous, inconsolable tears until I whipped up something else, but I don’t remember what. I hope I finally got the message that Marian articulated and realized you needed to do your own thing, but I was pretty slow at that game. I think Marian got it down much more quickly. We did have fun, though!"
13:49 on November 1st, 2011
"The garbage can incident was actually me — I wanted to be Oscar the Grouch. (See last year’s Halloween blog — Costume Perfectionista). But yes, Dad said it showed low self-esteem, so we never got to make it. Not sure what we ended up doing with that corrugated cardboard.
Thanks for the sewing machine offer. I’d love it, but I think shipping probably isn’t worth it. I would never call your hard work “insignificant.” Those costumes were memorable (obviously)."
19:35 on November 1st, 2011
"Great post! Samson came around eventually, it seems. He was very proud of his cowboy outfit last night. He even told Kevin this morning at daycare that he was a cowboy for Halloween. I didn’t realize it was vintage. Even cooler. Where did you get it?
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20:29 on November 1st, 2011
"Thanks for reading the whole thing, and commenting! (I know mom time is tight.) Yes, it did work out in the end. I guess Samson’s not one for dress rehearsals– he just goes full throttle for the main production. Also, I let Rob be the one to dress him so that might have helped.
So cute that he told Kevin he was a cowboy. Was Kevin like, “uh, yeah…I was there, dude”?
I’ll let you know in secret about the vintage store:)"
21:19 on November 1st, 2011