We have reached that turn in the year, heralded in by the return of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, the Halloween section of Target, and an overwhelming desire to watch Hocus Pocus (or is that just me?). I always get swept up in the nostalgic excitement of all things pumpkin and the fact that my house will now be decorated for one holiday or another through Mardi Gras.
Each year, I push the boundary with how soon I can decorate my house for Halloween since it is the first of what I refer to as the Holiday Back to Back Bonanza that exists through the end of the year. This year I lasted until September 3rd (pretty proud of that).
However, despite all of my excitement surrounding the season change (if we can call it that in South Louisiana), there is a now familiar fear that begins to creep in and settle. It’s an anxious fear that won’t be relieved until Halloween night. It’s irrational and it doesn’t really matter, but it weighs on me nonetheless.
Will Milo wear a costume this year or not?
Now, I know this seems trivial. Who cares if he wears a costume? Let him do what he wants! And I fully hear you and agree. However, my sweet little boy still wants to go trick-or-treating with his friends, and unfortunately we have dealt with some side-eye when he opens his bag for candy, sans-costume.
It is a weird position for me to be in because my oldest, Oliver, LOVES his costumes. If he could wear a costume every single day, he would do it. Halloween is his favorite and he always tries to do a costume change, mid trick-or-treating. After Halloween, we go rack up the costumes at Target when they mark them down to 90% off ,and it usually feeds his addiction through the year.
But for Milo, he is vehemently anti-costume.
Halloween 1: 4 Months Old
For Milo’s first Halloween, we planned to put him in his brother’s bee costume from his first Halloween. Milo wasn’t having it. No big deal, we thought, he’s just a baby. He went to bed early and all was well.
Halloween 2: 1 Year, 4 Months Old
The following year, the entire family (aunts, uncles,cousins and Gigi included) all dressed in Star Wars theme. We got Milo a Yoda costume which he didn’t want to try on or wear, but we figured that once he saw everyone dressed up, he would want in. Nope. He wanted to wear pajamas and eat chicken nuggets at home instead. Ok, no big deal, I thought, maybe next year.
Halloween 3: 2 Years, 4 Months Old
In the weeks leading up to Halloween, Milo picked out a shark costume at Target. He was SO excited and tried it on at home. YES, I thought, THIS year is THE year! Oh, you poor little fool, past-self.
As Halloween got closer, we talked about his costume and when he would put it on and what everyone else would be wearing. We talked about trick-or-treating. I felt ready. Halloween came and Milo wanted NOTHING to do with his shark costume. He didn’t want it near him. More than that, he refused all pictures.
But as we got ready to go trick-or-treating, he grabbed his bag and wanted to go. I glanced at him, in his t-shirt and shorts, clutching his empty bag of candy.
“Ok, but do you want to wear a mask?” I asked.
“NO!” he shouted back.
I felt a spike of anxiety. I have heard the side comments before while out trick-or-treating – about older kids trick-or-treating and kids “phoning it in” and not dressing up. I think sometimes, as parents, we can project our feelings about society onto our kids due to our experience. I have more life experience than Milo to feel anxiety over the judgment of others. But when I looked at his defiant, fierce expression, I immediately swallowed those feelings and off we went.
Now it may have been me overcompensating by immediately telling people, “OH – he didn’t want to wear a costume! What can you do?” to people as he asked for candy – but for the most part, people responded relatively well. We did receive a few looks from passers-by, but he was having such a great time and he wasn’t concerned so neither was I.
Halloween 4: 3 Years, 2 Months Old
This year, he has decided that he wants to either be a dinosaur or Spiderman – and we will get whatever costume he chooses. And perhaps this year will be The Year. Regardless, I’m aware that the day may come and we could very well wind up trick-or-treating dressed as Milo and Mom. While I still get flashes of anxiety, I think it is a normal mom response when your child does something against “the norm.” We all want to feel unconditional acceptance, and what I have come to realize is that it doesn’t need to come from strangers. The most important unconditional support is from your family. So while I may allow society to stress me out regarding his lack of costume, I do my best to ensure that he doesn’t feel these concerns.
So, just remember that if you see a kid trick-or-treating with normal clothes – or maybe not even a great costume – nearby there may be an over-stressed mama trying to navigate that space between individuality and ostracization. So, maybe let’s give them a break – and possibly a Kit-Kat or two.