Thursday, September 23, 2010

144. Costume Change

Well, it’s almost time for that glorious October ritual:  time to panic about Halloween costumes. Luckily, Short is pretty easy-going and will eagerly wear his older brother’s cast-offs. This year, Short will be donning pirate attire, complete with eye patch and fake hook hand.  He has been trying the ensemble on all summer, in hopes of perfecting his pirate scowl and sound effects ("Arrrrr, matey!"). 

Now, Tall.......Tall’s another subject. As the firstborn, he's always reveled in the de facto role of Wearer Of Great Costumes. We have spared no expense to make that kid look like a viable first place contender for any costume competition in the tri-state area.

For his first foray into the multiple choice world of costumes for babies, he was a darling little bumble bee.  Our photo album is full of documentation of his yellow-and-black striped cuteness.  (He posed cooperatively for the first twenty or so shots, and the next ones are of him in a quasi-sedated chocolate coma).

The following year, as an opinionated one-and-a-half-year-old with distinct ideas about fashion and his role in it, he chose a fire-fighter costume. That costume was a flash of divine inspiration, and he fell so deeply in love with it that he refused to change out of it to sleep on Halloween night, or the five consecutive nights after that. I must admit, he made an adorable little fire-fighter.

The problem arose the next Halloween. The previous year, the fire-fighter outfit had been a bit too big for him.  Undaunted, we rolled up the pant legs so he could walk and rolled up the sleeves so he could reach out for candy.  By the time the next October 31st rolled around, he could easily still fit in it. This bossy two-and-a-half-year-old told me that he wanted to be a fire-fighter for Halloween.

“Really?” I asked in earnest, “The same thing again? Let me show you the photos, that is exactly what you were last year.”

He smiled fondly at the photos and then looked up at me. “Mommy, I look good in the picture. I look so han-sum! I be a great fireman ‘nother time too!” Honestly, how can a mom say no to that?

The Husband was holding the lion-attired baby when I walked down the stairs with fire-fighter Tall. He immediately gave me A Look. To Tall he said, “Wow! You look ready to put out a fire! Let’s go trick-or-treating!” Then to me, under his breath, “Isn’t that what he was last year?” I shrugged and gave him the universal Mom-Code mental telepathy message of, "Don't make this a big deal, no one is crying, let's leave it at that."      

Now Tall was three-and-a-half. The well-used and well-loved fire-fighter costume had inhabited the dress-up box along with a football helmet and an alien mask. Tall and I had a brief discussion about his Halloween options. It went something like this:

Me: Tall, let’s take Short to the mall and we can go to the costume store and you can pick out a fun costume for Halloween!
Tall: No. I be a fireman, like forever.

He would not budge. So, for the third year in a row, I scrunched him into the fire-fighter costume, which at this point was bursting at the seams. He looked approvingly at his exposed ankles in the mirror, entranced with his greatness. “I look so fireman!” he said proudly. He begged me to take more pictures.  (These are the same photos that I anticipate years later he will look at and say, “Wow, my mom sure was cheap! I had to wear the same Halloween costume three years running!")

I took my miniature fire-fighter and his brother the hot-dog (a true hot “dog”—it was a dog costume from Target that exactly fit my one-year-old) out into the cool night to collect candy from generous neighbors. I was looking forward to the tradition of friends admiring my children’s costumes and admittedly also the newer tradition of me devouring all their candy later (hello, Kit-Kat!).

We knocked on our next-door neighbor’s door. The kindly older gentleman appeared brandishing a giant basket filled with mini-Snickers bars. He took one look at Tall, turned to me and whispered, “I thought he already was that costume last year?” I nodded quickly and grabbed two Snickers bars.

The next year, Tall was devastated by a terrible turn of events. Let me explain.  We were anticipating that his preschool would put on its annual Halloween Parade (although so as not to offend anyone in a climate of overly-politically-correctness, they referred to it as “Let’s Pretend Dress-Up Time”). Two days before the celebration, he went to our box of costumes and pulled out the (by now) tattered remnants of the fire-fighter outfit. He hugged it and smiled. Then he started to put the jacket on. His face registered a look of shock and dismay when he could not get his skinny arm into the very tight sleeve.

“Mom!” he cried out, “Come quick! Something’s wrong, I think my costume shrunk in the laundry!”

This was My Moment.  Hoping he'd forget all about the fire-fighter idea, I pulled out a wonderful costume that I'd been saving for just this occasion: a very realistic Buzz Lightyear, complete with pop-up wings. Tall dropped the fire-fighter costume on the floor like a pair of dirty pajamas.

“Buzz Lightyear!” he beamed.

Last year, at age five, he made a dashing pirate, a costume I had to really rally for. I introduced the idea, then let him chew on it a while until it became his own (have you seen the movie "Inception"?  think along those lines). A few days before Halloween, he woke up one morning and informed me, “Mom, I think I’ll be a pirate this time!”

I took him to a costume store the other day to get a general idea of what was out there. I know it is still "technically" September, but that is equivalent to 3 seconds away from the despair that is non-existent costume choices in Retail Land.  Great retro Gumby costume—oh, they only have size 12.  Perfect Spiderman costume—oh, they only have toddler sizes.  I'm forever fearful of being dubbed the Loser Mom Who Waited Too Long and then my child ends up shoving his giant pillow case in strangers' faces while wearing a non-descript black turtleneck, bandana, and messy black face-paint.  ("What are YOU supposed to be?" "I'm a burglar.")

Tall is now six and still has very distinct ideas about what he will and won’t wear (see blog 142: What They Wear). He went right to the vampire and skeleton costumes, and then transformers (I am loathe to admit I don’t know exactly what a transformer is, but I don’t want my son to be one). I tried pushing him toward the cute surgeon costume. No dice. The cowboy? Uh-uh. A fun dragon was quickly deemed “too baby”. Sigh.

I wish I could sew; I remember my mom made us darling costumes. Once I was a black cat and then years later my younger sister followed in my feline footsteps.  I also recall gypsy costumes, witches, and a giant Oreo cookie at some point. 

Last year, the neighbor kids that impressed me the most were a little boy dressed as a giant Lego and a teen-age girl costumed as a large container of McDonald’s French fries. Kudos to those parents (see blog 143: Homework For Mom).

Tall doesn’t know it yet, but this year he will be sporting an astronaut’s flight suit. I bought the last one they had in his size back in July.

(“Mother Of Vampires?”)


  1. Boy 1 was a pirate two years in a row. The only change we made was his "beard." The first year it was just a mustache. The second year it was a goatee. This year Boy 2 (age 4) talked about being a Mummy for MONTHS. We found a mummy costume, he loved it, wore it to a couple of parties before Halloween and then, guess what? On Halloween, literally 1 minute before we were going to walk out the door, he stated, in no uncertain terms that he did NOT want to be a mummy. He was going to be a Jedi Knight come hell or high water. It was a hissy fit of epic proportions -- and that was just me. Finally it all got solved. He went as a Jedi Knight and had a ball. Ugh. (In case you're curious, Boy 1 was a white ninja -- as opposed to the black or red ninja.)

  2. aren't kids funny? :)



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