This Halloween was the first in 15 Halloweens that I had no little ones to force into a ridiculous costume and cart around town. The fact that it is 40 degrees and raining seems a special gift to make me feel a whole lot better about missing out this year.
Still, it’s difficult for me to comprehend that I have no little ones to wrestle into a hot/scratchy costume. No bets are being taken on how long the hat/mask/sword will last. No one asked for the impossible-to-find “must have” costume this year.
“Yes, honey I understand you want to be Yu-gi-Oh. You and every other six-year-old boy on the planet, and their mamas, unlike yours, planned ahead and ordered in June.”
No one is a ninja. No one (thank the Lord) asked to be a homemade cupcake at the 11th hour.
When our firstborn was just six-months-old, I wrestled his flailing arms and chubby legs into a clown costume (using skills honed as a child when I practiced dressing the cat) and carted him around just for the experience of it all.
“Yes the mini Snickers is for my toothless infant, just drop it in the plastic pumpkin. Thank you.”
As he grew there was the lion costume that really roared when a battery operated button was pushed. That was a huge help with a shy child who believed the ultimate trick was being asked to take candy from the strangers he had heretofore been warned expressly about. What kind of bait and switch deal was this Halloween anyway?
His third year he was Buzz Lightyear of Disney cartoon fame. That was the first costume I was really excited about. He lived, eat, breathed and slept Toy Story and I just knew being Buzz Lightyear would be the highlight of his childhood.
So, of course, at the appointed time he went completely sullen and refused to get out of the wagon unless forced. My memory of that year is of my three-year-old trudging, silently to the door and thrusting his bucket out as if to say “treat me if you must, this is a hostage situation.”
Still I dragged him door to door “This is FUN, kid!” while our one-year-old slept on her father’s shoulder, too exhausted to care she looked adorable (clown again) that year.
Of course the very next day he came down ill. I was too novice a mother, even three years in, to realize a child behaving uncharacteristically, as if possessed by the devil himself, is probably fixing to break a fever or vomit any second. Happy Halloween kid.
Our daughter obliged by wearing the same costume repeatedly for a couple years. It was a black and white skunk costume which she insisted was a kitty. The next year she declared it a monkey and wore it again. It was $5 at a yard sale and served us well. Who was I to argue?
She would come out of her easygoing “call it a kitty and anything goes” years just in time to ask to be a zombie (FYI, toilet paper disintegrates when wet); homemade cupcake (knowing her mother is not crafty) and “the lady with the snakes” (Medusa) in later years. At one point I think she just lay awake all September coming up with ways to torture me.
Still, we pulled it together, and if those homemade costumes unraveled even faster than she could fill a treat bag, at least we have the photos to prove that, for one shining moment I was the mom who made costumes — and hot glued her fingers to the dining room table (yes, really).
It is a dark, dreary and icy Halloween night. The children are nestled all snug in the house. There is candy in a jar in the kitchen, stashed in the car, and probably under their beds. Let’s be frank, they no longer have to work for food — or bite-sized candy bars.
If I am being completely honest with myself, there is some relief in not having to “do” Halloween this year. I saved money on costumes and time in not having to make or take classroom treats and fun crafts. I should be relieved but of course, I’m not.
When I think that our days of tromping up and down Elm Street, oohing and aahing over the jack o’ lanterns and crowing over the heady score of a real Reese’s Cup (our familial Holy Grail of candy attainment) I find the taste it leaves is much like that of my favorite dark chocolate Halloween candy — bittersweet.