My kids and I were discussing Halloween this morning on the way to school. This is a 12-month conversation at our house; my children's plans for Halloween begin every year on November 1. Last year, my boys' costumes were AWESOME. Homemade from stuff we had around the house, a couple of trips to the local thrift store, a dash to the craft store, and one bottle of yellow fabric dye. I have great memories of Halloween costume making when I was little, and a deep sense that any costume worth its salt is NOT store bought. Half (or more) of the fun is creating an ass-a-kickerata costume from "scratch." Last year, my kids were on board with this. See the picture -- it speaks volumes:
This year, however, they have asked specifically for STORE BOUGHT COSTUMES. This is how they put it, even before they told me what they want to be. "We want store bought costumes." What, do they lie in their bunkbeds and come up with this stuff in partnership? I can just hear it: "Mom is probably gonna try to push that homemade junk on us again this year, so we gotta hit her early and be absolutely clear. OK, united front: we want store bought." And their oh-so-convincing reason for wanting store bought costumes? Because everyone else has them. (My husand's response to this was: "So did you tell them that everyone else eats sugary crap and watches mindless brain-sapping drivel, too?" Poor guy, he doesn't realize this is EXACTLY what my oldest son means when he says: "I need a new family.")
Sigh. This makes me wistful. I want them to be excited about putting together a costume as a family activity. I want to be given the challenge of coming up with a totally awesome spiderman with my bare hands and a glue gun, one that blows the Target version outta the water! My sons? They want the security and sureness of a packaged promise. My 5 year old daughter wants to be Minnie Mouse, and I bet she'll let me build her a great costume, so I've still got that.
Last year, my son's homemade Woody costume won him a prize at his school parade. He was thrilled. Even so, he was surrounded by store bought x-men, and power rangers, and spidermen, and other menacing superheroes. This is the kind of thing that revs me up for a rant about the blandness and emptiness of our culture. What happened to creativity? What happened to imagination? Why must Disney (or other mass-media/entertainment visigoth) dictate what my children like? Lordy, I sound like my own parents. And we all know that few things strike fear in our hearts more than that right there!
I should be thankful. That I can go to Target or wherever, buy a package, and save myself the time and trouble of creating costumes myself. I certainly could use the time in some other fashion. But no, I sit here, trying to think of clever ways to trick my children into thinking that they would actually prefer to be something cool like a dolphin or a box of popcorn or an aquarium full of salt-water fish. I just love it when they go nuts with ideas and imagination, and it seems like Halloween is the perfect time to do this...so why don't my kids agree? Guess they want to fit in, just like we all do, eh?
So we'll see. If past years are any indication, they will change their minds about their costumes 3.5 times in the next four weeks. They can't change their minds past October 15th, though, or mom bursts a blood vessel. Something tells me STORE BOUGHT is not going to be one of the things that changes. Different package, same security.
Thank God for Minnie Mouse. Anyone out there got a pair of ears they're not using?
ps: Addendum to this post: Apparently, imagination is alive and well, and I needn't worry. My almost nine year old suggested to me today that I go as Jane Goodall for Halloween, and dress up my 2 and 1 year old as monkeys. I just might take this suggestion...