Time certainly does fly. And in my house, it is flying high on a broomstick, with a pair of glow-in-the-dark fangs, and a pointy hat covered with bats and spiders. As I look at my daughter, who has just turned 9, I wonder, “Whatever happened to baby Jane?” (Yep, my daughter’s name is Jane and she’s not a baby anymore.)
In years past, her Halloween costumes were always cute, even when they were edgy. When she was in pre-K, she went as a little-girl pirate, but it was an adorable, bubbly buccaneer. With her sweet smile and giggling voice, she oozed charm and charisma even beneath her eye patch and hooked hand.
Now she is enthusiastically wearing fake teeth that would give an orthodontist a major coronary event!
I’m happy that she’s still into the spirit of Halloween. I dread the day when she looks at me and intones, “Halloween? Trick-or-treating? Mom, that’s so lame!”
Frankly, I think beyond the negation of Halloween and candy, her calling me “Mom,” not “Mommy,” will be the proverbial nail in the coffin.
Yes, you can look at your children and their costume choices and see how they are growing up and evolving. It’s not just a matter of their sizes and growth chart getting bigger and bigger, there’s also the change in their moods and their attitudes.
When I first started to take Jane out for Halloween, I had to carry her about the streets, cradling her as I made my way up and down the steps. We weren’t really trick-or-treating. Rather, it was a way to introduce her to friends and neighbors in my community.
She was just a year old and dressed up as a black-and-white cow. It sounds like an odd costume choice, but she was a very tiny infant and this onesie outfit fit her splendidly. She was a bovine beauty!
Since that cow costume, she’s paraded about as Snow White, Tinker Bell, Barbie, Pirate, Sorcerer Mickey, Cleopatra, and now a hodge-podge of Halloween horror icons. She seems to be part witch, vampire, zombie, and hoarder! (I swear she’s uncovered every trinket and bit of fabric that we’ve had stuffed in our junk drawers.)
So, Jane is growing up, and my son, Tommy, has also gained another year of wisdom and experience. He’s going as Luke Skywalker, and he’s chosen his persona so he can stroll around with a light saber on his hip. Getting the chance to walk in public with a sound-activated, light-activated weapon is something he’s extremely enthused about. After years of being scolded not to play with swords in the dining room or by china cabinets, the great outdoors is now his battlefield. Can you imagine the energy that is radiating inside him and his pals?
This year, I realize that the annual tradition of dressing up and sauntering around with plastic pumpkin candy baskets might be winding down. I don’t think it will stall out next year. I imagine by the time Jane is 12, she’ll be looking back at Halloween trick-or-treating as an event from her youth! Oh, to be nostalgic for one’s childhood as a tween.
Children and their costumes were very much on my mind as I sat down to do this week’s blog; and I realized that beyond the masquerading element, there is a joyous sense of publicly pretending and pursuing make-believe with your community that I really love.
Women my age aren’t permitted to go begging for candy on their own. Perhaps that’s why I love Halloween so much. I get to go out with my children and wear a silly devil horn headband, or a tiger mask, or a sparkling tiara. After 364 days a year of pretending to be an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-responsible mother, I get to let my real self run wild for a day.
Yes, I’m a grown-up. Yes, I’m an adult. But don’t tell my inner child that. She waits all year for the chance to ring a neighbor’s doorbell and walk away with a Kit-Kat bar.
I think she’ll miss the Halloween ritual most of all.
In honor of my inner-child trick-or-treater, I present a coven’s worth of little girls (and one boy) who will perennially be haunting and haunted.