Being Someone Else
“Hey Mom, maybe I’ll just wear some vampire teeth. Mr. C said he would be disappointed if I didn’t dress up.”
My son lets this announcement drop so quietly I could have missed it.
At 16, he is self-conscious and wants to fit in and be cool. Even though, secretly, I know he loves Halloween and dressing up. Well, we can’t disappoint Mr. C! Off we go to find some vampire teeth. (And maybe a cape? And maybe some makeup?)
As a little boy, he would dash from house to house shrieking with delight and dressed up (memorably) as Thomas the Train, Indiana Jones, or Captain Jack Sparrow. I would put all kinds of glow-in-the-dark devices on him, terrified of cars, but there was no stopping him. And who could blame him? A child let loose at twilight, allowed to be someone else, with unlimited candy! What could be more thrilling?
But then the shift happens.
“I don’t think I’ll go trick-or-treating. Maybe I’ll just decorate the house this year.” This announcement dropped like a thud about 4 years ago. We got the sticky, stretchy cobweb stuff for your bushes, a giant mechanical spider that drops down in an alarming way, a very cool fog machine, and a few other tacky and extravagant knick knacks that spend 50 weeks a year in the attic.
The following year it was, “I think I’ll just pass out the candy this year.”
Slowly the willingness to put yourself out there with enthusiastic and ridiculous abandon diminishes. I am no help. I used to love dressing up but now am too busy busy busy to be bothered. Halloween becomes another chore. Decorate. Undecorate. Buy candy. Figure out costumes. There was the year I spent all weekend laboriously crafting a handmade costume for my 2 year old daughter, when all she really wanted was to hang out with me. Do we really need to carve a pumpkin? My husband used to create the most fabulous carved pumpkins, inspired by the kids’ drawings. What happened?
Oh and to state the obvious: A holiday devoted to excessive amounts of candy is a nightmare for someone with eating issues. I used to binge on Halloween candy. Enough to make anyone hate candy for the rest of their life. Here is a useful tip for those of you who haven’t mastered this trick. Convince yourself you hate a food item and then it will become easier to avoid eating it. I HATE HALLOWEEN CANDY! Um, that’s not entirely true. I actually like Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and allow myself about 1 on Halloween. Maybe 2.
So when that casual nonchalant comment about dressing up this year dropped in my ear so quietly I almost missed it, I jumped at the chance to reignite my son’s childhood love of Halloween as he transitions through murky adolescence. Maybe he will even go trick-or-treating! I can just see them. A few gangly 16-year-olds, towering over their childish counterparts. They probably won’t be wearing elaborate costumes. Their “trick-or-treat” will come from newly deep voices. They may have a bit of scrubble on their faces. No longer children. Not quite men.
Thank you Mr. C for giving my son permission to dress up for Halloween.