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!


  1. james lavoie · October 31, 2014

    Robin I thoroughly enjoyed your Halloween blog!!!

  2. Full Spectrum Mama · December 1, 2014

    Coming to this a bit late, but what a joy. Thanks for the smiles. The dinosaur costume expression (tolerance? disdain?) is priceless.
    My guy is still trick or treating…in the same vampire mode (third cape) he started in, um, first grade (he’s in 7th now…).

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