Raising Richmond: Halloween ho-hums

While some parents excitedly load up their Pinterest boards and fire up their glue guns at the first mention of Halloween, others are left feeling “meh” about the prospect of getting the kids all decked out for just one night. So! Cute Halloween costumes for kids: are they really worth it?

Editor’s note: Valerie here. Kelly is kindly filling in for me this week while I battle what is sure to be the first of many germ assaults lovingly brought home from school by our dear son. I’ll be back next week!

My husband and I were recently talking to a friend’s two kids. The 15-year-old daughter told us about her plan to become an astronaut, which involved studying at MIT and learning how to fly a plane. We then asked her eight-year-old brother what he wanted to be when he grew up, and he said he’d probably want to fly planes, too. Then my husband asked our almost three-year-old daughter what she wants to be when she grows up.

“A cat,” she said.

This answer was, luckily, downgraded from her life’s ambition to what she wants to be for Halloween. She dressed up as a cat last year, which came about because she already owned cat ears. Being able to redo this as a costume saved me a lot of grief, because I am bad at Halloween. I have zero crafting abilities and very low enthusiasm for holidays that aren’t Labor Day and Independence Day. Being a parent, unfortunately, shines a light on my inadequacies at things like costume making, decorating, and pretending Santa Claus is real. And as much as I love my child, I don’t want to put a lot of energy into what she will be or do for one evening of her life that she will probably not remember.

This year will be my daughter’s fourth Halloween. We were just home from the hospital with her on her first Halloween, and it’s not even likely that I was aware that it was Halloween at all, but one of her grandpas gave her a onesie with a cat face on it and that managed to be one of several outfits of the day.

For her first Halloween as a non-lumpy newborn, she went as a bunny (and by “went” I mean, we thought that all the kids in her daycare would be dressed up as something on Halloween, and I didn’t want her to be left out, and she already had bunny ears). Her costume was:

  • Bunny ears
  • A white shirt
  • Pink pants
  • Cotton balls sewn together and pinned to a white ribbon (despite her costume seeming like a very important task on the days leading up to Halloween, I completely forgot about it until about 10:00 PM the night before, which you can read about here if you want to feel better about what you think is a bad costume you made for your child)

It looked adorable because she was/is adorable, but as costumes go, it was pretty unremarkable. Plus, I don’t think the kids dressed up during the day at her sitter’s house anyway.

The next year she had cat ears, so a cat costume was obvious. And since I didn’t spend the year learning how to become better at DIY for kids’ dress-up, her outfit was:

  • Cat ears
  • A black shirt with a print on it that I turned inside out over a blue long-sleeved shirt
  • Black pants
  • A brightly colored hat with a floral print to wear under the ears because it was cold outside
  • A black hoodie
  • A trouser sock of mine that I pinned to the back of her pants
  • Tear-streaked cat makeup (I colored her nose black and drew on thick whiskers with a face painting pencil, but she cried a lot before we left to go trick-or-treating, so it was a blurry mess)

Trick-or-treating was quick and fine, and we got a cute photo for the records. When her plan was to be a cat again for Halloween this year, I was grateful for the do-over. Maybe I would get a store-bought tail for her, or a cat-face mask. Soon she didn’t just want to be a cat. She wanted to be a lion. And a tiger. And Mom and Dad were going to be cats, too. All of these things were possible. Then, because she’s a toddler, she changed her mind.

She wants to be a turnip.

And I’m going to be the Mama Turnip. And her dad’s going to be the Daddy Turnip. I’ve been waiting for her to change her mind back to cat or something else that I could visualize in real life, but she’s stuck on turnips.

This doom of having to create a turnip costume (and come up with a reason why I’m not going to be dressed like one) is turning into a parenting fail, especially as I anticipate the avalanche of amazing costumes my friends will whip up for their kids. Sure, we could buy a turnip costume (because they exist), but why spend a lot of money on something that she will wear for a minute? And no one will know that she’s a turnip. I wasn’t sure what they looked like, or if I’ve ever eaten one, but I did learn from a friend that turnips were originally what people carved for Halloween before pumpkins. My daughter and I have since scoped them out at the grocery store, and despite seeing them in real life, turnip is still a go.

My husband has come up with ideas for making her turnip costume–it involves a hot glue gun and dying a sweatshirt then stuffing it with something. I have been both trying to ignore the issue and reviewing my past homemade costumes with embarrassment, remembering the amount of time spent explaining each costume because 10-year-old girls don’t usually dress like the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live and the moms at the doors in 1989 didn’t watch SNL, either.

Halloween is a such a low stakes, low reward event, and it’s very hard to explain that to a small person who is having the best or worst moment of her life at any given time. I would rather apologize to my child for her dumb costume than stress out making it. Does that make me a bad parent? I don’t know. I spend a lot of time with her on things that do matter, like reading books and teaching her about Gene Kelly. She can be upset later in life that her homemade costumes were a mess, but if that’s her biggest issue with me, then OK. Maybe it’ll inspire her to take over the costume department in the house when she’s older.

So, this Halloween if you cross paths with two shy parents and a three-year-old kid either dressed like a blueberry or a contestant from the first episode of Biggest Loser, please throw us a kind word about how great our little turnip looks.

Photo by: anjuli_ayer

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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