Halloween: A New Kind of Hell for the Uncreative Parent

Kisses, kudos and thank yous to the many who have seen me through nine Halloweens

There are moms, I hear, who think nothing of zipping over to G Street Fabrics in Rockville for fabric, felt and zippers and whipping up fantastic, memorable costumes — pumpkin suits for toddlers, capes for ‘tween vampires and lovely “girl with a pearl earring” costumes for teenagers.

But that’s not me. When I was a kid, Halloween always was a special sort of misery because I had no idea of what to do about a costume and even less desire to dress up as a mysterious creature. I was totally in it for the candy.

The single time I felt like a success was the year I wore a big red coat, put white powder in my hair, concocted some sort of beard and went as Santa Claus. I thought it was hilarious, but, since I’m a Minnesotan, it rained and snowed that year so the powder in my hair dissipated, the beard fell apart and I was just a dreary, wet girl in a red jacket. People gave me a hard time for trick or treating without a costume.

On Son’s first real Halloween, he was just barely two years old and I was clueless and overworked. “Don’t worry about it,” said the long-suffering husband (LSH). “I’m good at Halloween.”

He took a large box about the size of the child, cut a head hole and two armholes and wrapped it with gift wrap. It looked great.Son went to the neighbor’s house, and she said, “What are you?”

“A present!” he said happily.

“And so you are!” she said, and I think we both teared up a bit.

She then put a piece of candy in his hand, and I told him to put it in his trick or treat bag. But he couldn’t. You see, the one arm hole was on the right side of the box, the left was on the left side of the box but his arms were so short that he couldn’t put candy from one hand into the bag in the other.

Going to the next house, we noticed the next problem. Because of the shape of the box, he couldn’t lift his knees and climb up or down stairs. I did a lot of carrying that night.

Next year, I don’t remember the costume, probably because we went to two houses before he said he had to pee and then did. On a sidewalk. Drenching his costume. That was that for trick or treating.

Meanwhile, Daughter came home from India in early October 2004 just a month short of her third birthday. She was settling in nicely until she went to answer the door on Halloween to find two half-size monsters, a devil and a skeleton, who growled and clawed at her because they were eight years old and didn’t know better.

Every time the doorbell rang after that she ran to the staircase (far from the door) and cowered there until we gave up on Halloween and turned out the light to protect her. A year or two later, she was totally into Halloween — and fondly remembers being a fairy with pink wings.

Subsequent years have been a whirl of Spider Man costumes (thank you Craigslist!), witch costumes (basically a beautifully handmade cape made by a friend supplemented by a Halloween store hat and the kitchen broom.)

This year Son, almost 11, is becoming self-conscious and will go as a baseball player. We’ve obviously got those duds in spades. Daughter plans to be a witch again, wearing a lovely blonde wig from the Halloween store. It’s a $6.99 year — which makes this frugal mom proud.

Still, I really ought to spring for a bottle of wine for the creative mom who made the great cape Rita loves and is always good for a great hand-me-down costume. You know who you are. Is Malbec okay?


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