A Mother’s Scary Halloween Story

“How about a football player? You could wear your Eagles uniform,” I suggested. Immediate head shake.

“What about a punk rocker? You could wear jeans and a white T-shirt and I could spike your hair.” I may as well have told him to dress like Elmo.

I was out of ideas. Halloween was in a couple of days. If my son planned on participating, he needed something easy to throw together with things we had on hand. But as usual, anything I suggested became automatically cursed.

It wasn’t just him. My daughter had just picked her costume over the weekend, landing on a wacky-tacky idea that needed nothing more than a quick rummage through her dresser drawers. It was like every preschool outfit she ever wore and it came together easily. I could breathe a little easier.

I had a feeling all this last-minute stuff was just payback for last year when my son decided to be Gimli from Lord of the Rings. I thought he’d change his mind. It was a costume that would require some effort. But 15 minutes to cut a beard? I had time. I procrastinated and on Halloween that 15 minutes turned into an hour as I tried to figure out how to get the beard to stay on. And that was my second attempt. I had no fabric left. It had to work.

While cutting the first beard, my son grumbled, “I knew you were going to mess this up.” I should have just told him to grow his own.

Maybe I could have made that costume earlier and not waited until the last possible minute. But my son is notorious for changing his mind every year. He’ll make a decision and then the afternoon of Halloween announce he’s going to be a pirate for the third year in a row. I just can’t invest much in his Halloween costumes. But I knew if I screwed up that costume, he wouldn’t wear it, even after hours of hard work.

Surprisingly, he did wear it. All of it. All night long. It was a Halloween miracle. A few weeks ago, my husband and son were cleaning and decided the beard and fur vest from last year wouldn’t be needed again. I almost spoke up, but the fur did shed a lot.

So the night before this Halloween, my son finally decided on a costume, not something easy—Radagast the Brown, a wizard from The Hobbit movie. And guess what he needed for his costume? Brown clothing. A beard. We searched the house for anything brown.

I woke at 5 a.m. on Halloween wondering how to make that hat out of a paper bag. And another beard. How did I make it last year? I’d have to measure his face before school. My son had awoken at 3 and decided on a zombie, trying to think of what that costume should be. I made him choose before school. As I crumpled a paper bag into Radagast’s hat, I still wasn’t sure he’d wear it. I bought a cheap brown sweater from Goodwill to make the brown cloak. He’d wear my husband’s old brown pants. I made a long, scraggly beard from hot-glue and an old brown T-shirt.

When dusk came and we put the costume together, it looked pretty good. I worried he’d look like he had a turkey on his head. I still worried he’d change his mind. As I feared, he didn’t want to wear the hat or the beard. Without them, he’d look like a kid in humongous clothes. I begged him to wear them just for pictures, so he did. He wore them all night. Another Halloween miracle.

I know I shouldn’t have saved him. I could have let him suffer for waiting so long. I didn’t have to work so hard. But at 10, how many more times will he go out trick-or-treating? How many will he remember? This could be the one he remembers most. This could be the costume he likes best—or probably least. Regardless, it’s a memory. For me and for him. And I think a little bit of my time was worth it.

radagast o lantern

Little boys who don’t share their candy with Mom turn into pumpkins at midnight, it’s true.

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “A Mother’s Scary Halloween Story

  1. Good for you! You’re so right about how fast these years fly by; take every second you can get!

    • Part of me was afraid if this ends up being my son’s last year, my daughter won’t want to go either. I’m OK with whatever they decide when they’re ready to move on, but sometimes it does occur to me, “Hey, this could be the last costume,” the last whatever. I want to enjoy it.

  2. you get an a for effort from me! i had a cranky halloween with 2/3 changing their minds last minute. one decided he didn’t want to be a surfer and the other no longer wanted to be a boxer. but i wasn’t nearly as nice as you. i was like, great, good luck with that. one found a morph suit and was happy and the other decided to just shove pillows up his shirt, put on a foot ball helmet and say he was a linebacker who had eaten too much candy. worked for me, no way i was making another costume halloween afternoon. boo me

    • Well, I felt that since he didn’t have anything lined up at all yet, I should at least try to accommodate him once. I think part of me sympathizes because I always felt a little weird dressing up as a kid and I think that could be part of why my kids take so long to decide. They’re out of their comfort zone. I can relate to that. But kudos to your kids for coming up with something on their own. I’m determined next year to have this stuff decided before the day of. I also wouldn’t be surprised if this were my son’s last year doing it.

      • except for my 5 year old it was a bit of torture. i asked for weeks and they blank stared at the tv and pood every idea until of course day of. i don’t work well like that. i don’t even know what a glue gun is. 😉

  3. I was also thinking this could be my son’s last Halloween. So bittersweet.

  4. Love it! Well done! We (well I) decided weeks in advance that Alpine Boy would be a skeleton – he’s got skeleton pyjamas so all I neede to do was make a mask – simple! I really kept meaining to do it, but time just kept slipping away (as usual in this house). 5.30pm on Halloween and still no mask. Was starting to panic a bit by then. Until…

    Hey presto – Alpine Boy comes home from holiday club, with his face painted… like a skeleton (much better than I could have ever done too)! Woohoo!

    I was hoping it would be that simple for the next 5 years. Your post hasn’t given me much hope! 😉

    • That worked out perfectly for you! I don’t deal with face paint. It would look awful. Scary even.

      I think Halloween would be simple if my kids would just wear what I want them to!

  5. This year we ditched Halloween altogether. Last year we had a similar story to yours, but the memories were indeed made, even if for the hair-pulling. But the movie night? All dressed up on the couch with candy and popcorn? It was pretty fun too.

    Another year our youngest nearly got struck by a car crossing the street (same teen almost mowed down my husband too). Some memories are meant NOT to be made.

    • Love your pumpkin! Is it yours?

    • Once everyone got into it and friends came, they had a good time. And I’m certainly not throwing out that beard! Someone may need it next year. Another dwarf, a lumberjack, who knows. I’ll scrapbook it if I need to. 😉

      Yes, the pumpkin is ours, complete with the beard and hat my son wore. You know I don’t post pictures of my kids–they don’t even like them on Facebook. So I dressed up the pumpkin for my blog. 😉

  6. I can’t imagine the day when my boys won’t want to celebrate Halloween – ahhh! I am still in the simple costume days – one ghost and one bat this year – so I have time to hone my glue gun skills. I hope one day to be as crafty as you in that final hour before Halloween.

    • Out of desperation comes inspiration–that’s what I’ve learned after ten years of parenting and many failures. I’m not sure it’s worth anything though! I think my kids will still find a way to celebrate, but they’ve never been into dress-up much. My son is in fifth grade. I remember feeling very torn between “kid” stuff and feeling a little too old for it around then. He may be feeling that way. I felt like that for a long time and I hated it. I remember just wanting to be on one side or the other. 😦

      Anyhoo, a glue gun is your best friend in times of crafty crisis. Learn to use it!

  7. If you’re the one creating facial hair, I’d say your candy take (and we’re talking chocolate over Skittles) should be 50%!

  8. I spent all week working on my daughters robot costume. Poor kid could barely walk in her box spray painted silver with various attachments. (Glow in the dark paint on the bottom of an egg carton etc) But she loved it and she was so proud of it. She’s six so she’s just getting into it, but oh man it was stressful I was so worried she would change her mind or hate my design. X.x Mommies have to deal with bringing that magic!

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