Monday, November 02, 2009

Halloween Redux Part 1: Costume and Pumpkin Resolutions

Happy post-Halloween!

I hope everyone out there had a good one, with more giggles than tears. My kids are old enough that the holiday has lost some of the magic it once had, but also most of the headaches. This enables me to be Wise and Knowing about the holiday and to offer you a list of the resolutions I've made over the years regarding costumes and pumpkins. You can make the same ones for next year if things haven't gone smoothly at your house this year. (In the spirit of full disclosure I will note that I rarely managed to keep my resolutions the next year, but still...)

Alternatively, you can just indulge a few moments of feeling like a Halloween pro compared to me.

Resolution Number 1 I will be accepting of my child's costume choices.

...even if that means that Child A in the photo above chooses at the last minute to wear her big brother's tattered bat costume from the year before after I've spent weeks crafting a lovely, feminine Butterfly Fairy costume from yards of tulle and sequins and glitter. Even though I have been dying for a dose of girly after two boys, and even though all her friends are outfitted in tutus and tiaras, and even though she will then insist on wearing the bat costume daily right through the Christmas holidays when every other little girl we know is wearing velveteen and tights and sparkly hair bows.

...even if that means that Child B wants to be a praying mantis, a costume you cannot possibly buy ready-made and that is also insanely tricky to make and that absolutely no one can tell what it is. I will recognize that being unidentifiable is part of the appeal for some children and I will graciously make him a "black hole" costume the following year even though it is even more unidentifiable.

...even if Child C takes one look in the mirror, scares himself, and insists I wash off all his ghost make-up after I've spent nearly an hour carefully applying it to his directions and we are already running late for the school Halloween parade.

Resolution Number 2 I will remember that sweatshirts are the basis of the best costumes.

They're great for a number of reasons: 1) they're versatile enough to be modified with moderate sewing/gluing skills to be a bat, a praying mantis, or, in the case above, a roly-poly bug costume; 2) they're warm, plus roomy enough to put extra warm layers underneath (this advantage might not apply if you're lucky enough to live some place where it isn't routinely freezing cold, raining and/or snowing on Halloween); and 3) they're reusable after the holiday, simply by removing the various accessories you've hot-glued or tacked on. Or not, if your child continues to demand to wear her costume for months.

Resolution Number 3 I will remember that indulging kids' costume preferences can lead to all kinds of good things.

Like imagination and creativity and a strong sense of self. Like cementing a passion for science and natural history that will last well into the teen years and even become the foundation for career choices.

Like giving me an idea for a character to put in a picture book. That's Mimi in the picture above with her pet roly-poly bug Frank.

My daughter's costume was inspired by a science unit her class did on roly-poly bugs, and becoming a roly-poly bug herself for Halloween really seemed to take her interest to the next level. After Halloween that year, we gathered up the roly-poly stragglers we found under the flower pots I hadn't yet gotten around to dumping, named them all Frank for easy identification, and moved them into a warm habitat in a special old diaper wipe box. Which we then kept as a centerpiece on the kitchen table, so we could observe their behavior carefully over the winter months. (As a bonus, the centerpiece also curbed my appetite, a good thing after all the leftover Halloween candy I "took care of.") Sara has since remained fascinated since by all creatures great and small. (This was actually the second time we'd housed roly-poly refugees over the winter, but Sara had been too young to really take notice the first time around.)

Resolution Number 4 I will remember to rush out and buy lots of costume stuff on November 1st because there is really no better birthday gift for a preschooler than a dress-up box - and no better time to find good stuff on mega-sale.

Resolution Number 5 I will not put the jack-o-lantern out for the trash thereby causing my toddler to wail, "The garby-men took my PUMPKIN!" every time we see a garbage truck for the next 12 months.

Instead I will plant pumpkin seeds so that my child can observe the full life cycle of his beloved pumpkin. This will cause an enormously long and prickly vine to take over my entire garden and kill half my treasured perennials in the process. And then I will put the used jack-o-lantern back in the garden so we can check every day to see how moldy, slimy, blobby it gets as it decays back into soil. And then we will plant the seeds again in the spring so we can start the process all over again, wiping out the last remaining perennials in the process.

I will also remember that a good alternative to carving a pumpkin - a too-difficult task for a preschooler - is to let him hammer large nails all over the pumpkin, pull them out, and then enjoy the lovely polka dot effect when a candle is placed inside. I will also remember that it is much better to cut off the bottom (easier to light the candle) and scoop everything out BEFORE all that hammering.

Thanks everyone for the comments welcoming me back to blogging! It's great to be back.

Next up: handling the horrors of all that Halloween candy.


Gale said...

Cool ideas for the nails, and awesome home made costumes.

This is the first year where my children's costumes actually went as planned. All years previous my youngest has changed his mind about what he wanted to wear. Glad I'm not the only one.

Carol Baicker-McKee, Ph.D. said...

I swear the more time and money you spend on a costume, the more likely the kid is to change his mind at the last second.

Also, the more effort you put into a kid's gift, the more she'll prefer the box.

Glad things went as planned for you this year! Think that only happened once in our household (the roly poly bug year in fact).

Thanks for stopping by.