White Knuckle Parenting: The Costume Quandary

It's October, which means it is Halloween costume decision time. What does your kid want to be?

It is October, which means it is time to talk about Christmas. 

I'm kidding. I wouldn't do that to you. I'm going to talk about Halloween, specifically Halloween costumes. Some of your kids have had their hearts set on a certain costume for months and the more well-prepared among you have already purchased that costume.

Personally, I don't even start listening to what my kids want to be for Halloween until October, because if I paid attention before then, I would have bought 16 different costumes by now. My kids change their minds frequently. I have been on the losing side of a kid who refused to wear a costume too many times to fall for that again.

I miss the days when I could tell my kids what they were going to be and that was that. Not to mention that when they were younger, I could pass costumes down from one to another. All three of my kids wore the same frog costume when they were one. Unfortunately, they started to have their own opinions about their costumes shortly after that.

At first I thought that it was awesome that my kids were using their imaginations. When he was four, my oldest son made his first costume request. He wanted to be Swiper from Dora the Explorer. Now, I don't know if things have changed in the past seven years, but at the time, Swiper was a costume that did not exist. 

Of course.

It was my first costume request. So I did what naive first-time parents who don't sew do: I hired someone to sew him a Swiper costume. It was adorable. He looked great. It cost a billion and six dollars. I never did anything so stupid again.

When I was a kid, I think I made almost every single one of my costumes. I mean, I remember the occasional hard plastic mask, but for the most part, I cobbled costumes together from items that were in my house. I was a gypsy for three years in a row—mostly because I liked wearing my mom's gaudiest jewelry. My nerdiest costume may have been the year I was the Statue of Liberty. That costume did make it easy to carry a flashlight though—even if it was perpetually aimed at the sky.

I have made costumes for my kids as well. Two years ago, my middle son wanted to be a LEGO. That was just about the best costume in the world and it just cost me a stolen box, six cans of cat food, and some spray paint. In addition to making costumes, I have destroyed costumes to tailor them to what I need. For instance, I hacked the plush duck head off of a too-small duck costume for my youngest to wear as a hat in his Wonder Pets duck costume.

(He refused to wear the duck outfit on Halloween that year, but then wore the duck head hat and a green cape every day for an entire year. That was fun.)

Fortunately, most costumes are available in stores or online these days. Sadly, many of those costumes are only available in a "sexy" version, however. I wouldn't be surprised if there were a sexy Swiper costume by now. I'm just glad I have three boys. I don't think I could handle a teenage daughter at Halloween time.

At this point, my sons are happy to go to the thrift shop and settle for something available there. Bonus points if it comes with a foam weapon they don't already have. This year they have all expressed interest in being demon kings or demon ghosts or some similarly nebulous idea. I'm pretty sure we'll be able to find something appropriately dark colored and dreary for them.

Once you have the costume, most of your battle is over. Then all you have to do is convince your child to wear a coat over it to trick or treat. Good luck!

Jean, a.k.a. Stimey, writes a personal blog at Stimeyland; an autism-events website for Montgomery County, Maryland, at AutMont; and a column called Autism Unexpected in the Washington Times Communities. You can find her on Twitter as @Stimey.

Jean Winegardner October 03, 2012 at 04:51 PM
She is clever. I like that. Also, duh, a parasite zombie. C'mon. :)
Jean Winegardner October 03, 2012 at 04:52 PM
That's one of my favorite photos!
Jean Winegardner October 03, 2012 at 04:52 PM
You are a good mom. A really, really good mom.
Catherine Newnham October 03, 2012 at 11:43 PM
My biggest challenge was the year our youngest wanted to be Captain Underpants. In case you don't know him...he wears underpants...and a cape...and nothing else. It was cold and I had somehow to design a costume which wouldn't either give him pneumonia or get him (or me) arrested for public nakedness. I ended up dyeing a t-shirt and some long-johns a nude colour, which he wore over his normal clothes! It worked better than we'd hoped and he got his picture in the school paper wearing it, plus a bald wig!! Very funny photo.
Jean Winegardner October 04, 2012 at 01:51 AM
I don't even know what I would do if my kid told me he wanted to be basically naked for Halloween. You are VERY clever!


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