What Will You Be?

My little boy grew too tall for trick-or-treating a few years ago.

Dressing him up in costume has been our tradition since he was a toddler, but once his height started to give people pause, it was time to give up the ghost, so to speak.

Jack Skellington, and sidekick, 2012.

Jack Skellington, and sidekick, 2012.

Of course, if he really wanted to, I’d still let him wear a costume and trick or treat for Halloween, despite the odd looks some people give to teenagers on this night. But, to be honest, he doesn’t seem to miss it.

Dressing my kid up for Halloween was always more for me than it was for him.

Pooh, 2000

Pooh, 2000.

My son usually enjoys Halloween: there’s candy and parties (and candy) and plenty of adults acting silly along with the kids.

Steve Nash, and Pirate Guerry, 2007

Steve Nash, and Pirate Guerry, 2007.

He laughs at seeing everyone dressed up and likes being involved – at school, out trick-or-treating with friends and family, or carving pumpkins…

4_pumpkin meme

But my son never expressed a desire to “be” anything. He was not one of those kids who demands to dress as his favorite character for the entire month of October. As Halloween approached, we would choose a costume we thought he’d like, and we were never sure, year-to-year, whether he would actually wear the costume we prepared until the last minute.

I made his costumes for a few years. He absolutely loved them.

Bob the Builder, 2003.

Bob the Builder, 2003.

OK, that’s a lie. Not all of them. 

This one? His look told me he was hoping a meteor would strike the Earth before his mother had a chance to take him out in public:

Dinosaur, 2004. Sorry, kid.

Dinosaur, 2004.

Well, I thought it was cute.

When he got a little older, we tried different strategies to get him to choose a costume. I created a “social story” that showed all the ways he’s dressed up in past years. We would give him two or three choices to narrow it down, and would eventually go with the one that he seemed to name to make us stop asking. 

I tried taking him to the costume shop to immerse him in the spirit of the holiday and see if some spontaneous choice would reveal itself. I learned that offering this kid an endless array of options is not a good idea. That adventure typically ended like this:

Meltdown on Aisle 9.

Meltdown on Aisle 9.

One year, we gave him an open-ended, fill-in-the-blank sentence: “For Halloween, I want to dress like___.” He said “pumpkin.” We knew that there was a good chance that he was just making a general association with the word Halloween – as he often does when doing his best to answer a question – but we took it as his choice and ran with it.

Pumpkin, 2009.

Pumpkin, 2009.

This one seemed to correctly reflect the amount of candy he consumed that year.

After a few years of trying and failing to encourage him to don a mask, we were shocked when he wanted to wear his Spider-Man mask, which fit very snugly over his head. Knowing his love for body socks, we shouldn’t have been at all surprised.

Spiderman, 2006.

Spiderman, 2006.

One Halloween, a firefighter friend of ours let my son borrow a real helmet. Despite – or more likely, because of – its immense weight, my kid refused to take it off all day at school. Best sensory tool ever.

Firefighter, 2008.

Firefighter, 2008.


Now that he’s older, we’ve done away with the costume-candy contingency.

Instead, he will sometimes help give out treats with a generous “one for you, two for me” strategy.

But, if my little boy ever does decide to dress up again, I know which costume I would choose.

Woody, 2002.

Woody, 2002.

 Happy Halloween, my friends. Hope it’s a Quirky one!

Something Amazing…

Mr. Incredible:   What are you waiting for?

Kid:   I don’t know…Something AMAZING…I guess…

Mr. Incredible:   <sigh> Me too, kid.

The Incredibles

The Incredibles. [We speak fluent Pixar around here.]

My coffee pot clicks on at 5 am every day. I’ve matured into a reluctant morning person, awake only to steal a precious, quiet hour before our normal life takes over.

Downstairs, two pillows retain their stubborn, prone positions in the exact center of the couch; a blanket (tossed, never folded) lies at one end.

Later in the morning, my son will make sure the pantry door is closed – and the laundry room door is open – before he sits down to breakfast. He will complete a multitude of other “fixes,” interrupted only by his mother’s proclivity toward her own often contradictory routines. Read the full post »

Ear Candy

“Hi, is that your son? The one with the orange earplugs?”

I don’t even have to look to know that she’s talking about my kid. Earplugs are a standard part of his attire, especially here, at an echoing indoor soccer field filled with special needs athletes and their aides and coaches.

The other mom gestures towards our kids who are gathering at the center of the field for their closing circle. “Sorry, but my son seems to be pretty fascinated by your son’s earplugs.”

Her child sits as close as he can to mine, ignoring the coaches and instead staring intently at the side of my kid’s head.A_Spring 08 earplugs Read the full post »

Opening Doors

[Writer's note: This is one of the first full essays I wrote about my kid. It's an old story from ten years back now, and is still one of my favorite memories.]

Standing on my back patio, I watch my five-year-old son through the sliding glass door. He bounces around the kitchen on his large blue exercise ball, happily unaware that he has just locked his mother out of the house.

Opening Doors_lockHe didn’t mean to lock me out. I stepped out—just for a moment—to throw something away, and I left the door open. Read the full post »


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