Every year I gave my mom a hard time about going to school on Halloween. I don’t know what it is about dressing up in a costume, but I never really enjoyed it. If you couple that with the odd fact that I didn’t like chocolate as a kid, Halloween was an undesirable holiday. Yet each year we brainstormed a costume and I begrudgingly marched around the school in the costume parade and accompanied my friends around our neighborhood, only to give away a majority of my candy to the chocolate-lovers around me.
I have gained a new appreciation for Halloween in watching my children dress up. For the past few years, my son has wanted to dress like a real-life hero, which made me proud. This year, he decided to dress like his current obsession, a hammerhead shark. I love that his costume choices represent his interests and passions and not just a cartoon character or popular movie. While my daughter’s first costumes were chosen by me (a skeleton and strawberry), she now made the choice herself to dress as a shark like her brother, her own hero. When shopping for a costume, there are so many disappointing options that sexualize children and gender stereotype. I am hopeful that my children will continue to be creative and brave in their choices.
At his class Halloween party this week, my son’s teacher described that as soon as he put on his costume, he “became zen.” While the other children were giddy with excitement over wearing their costumes at the party, my son seemed to take comfort in his new identity as one of his favorite animals. He suffered through trying to eat his dinner with the shark teeth getting in his way before finally taking off the costume as he overheated in the warm, crowded classroom. His teacher was right though and as I watched him swim through the crowds at the party, he seemed to glow. I am happy that my childhood reluctance over Halloween has not passed on to him and that we are able to find costumes each year that allow him to express his passions creatively. As a working mom who can’t sew, their costumes are store-bought, but their joy is pure and homemade.