Reality Check: Halloween Costume Chaos

Fall is here. The leaves are turning, the days are getting shorter and there's a new crispness to the air. Which means that Halloween, the scariest holiday of the year, is almost upon us. For me, it's not the goblins or the ghoulies or the haunted houses that make this holiday so frightening '- it's the dreaded Costume-Picking Outing.

Middle Daughter and I have a long history when it comes to Halloween costumes. The first few years weren't so bad: As an infant and young toddler, she didn't have any problem with my selections. Then she turned three, and it was as if a demon had materialized in my living room.

It all started with the year she decided to be a hippie. Aside from the rather disconcerting realization that I was so old children were now trick-or-treating in the outfit I wore for my high school senior picture, things seemed to be fine. That is, until Halloween night, when it came time to actually put on the costume. She balked at the fringed vest, bell-bottomed pants and leather peace symbol necklace I had lovingly crafted, and instead insisted that she wanted to be a puppy. A puppy? Where the heck did that come from? Scrambling, I managed to throw together an ensemble with a vaguely canine air. And then my darling daughter refused to wear the ears. "She's a puppy," I would explain, half-apologizing, as we were greeted with puzzled expressions at each door we knocked on. I felt as if I were trick-or-treating in a "slacker mom" costume.

Determined not to go through the same trauma the next year, I waited until the day before the holiday for her to decide on her costume. My plan was brilliant in its simplicity. Horrifyingly, her costume wasn't. She decided to be a certain warrior princess, and when I opened the pattern I found it consisted of approximately 4,286 pieces that had to be fitted together. I sewed until the wee hours of the morning, but the result was worth it. The costume was amazing, and she couldn't wait to put it on. That afternoon, however, she came down with a stomach bug and we spent Halloween in the bathroom, warrior princess outfit still hanging in the closet.


I felt things had come full circle the year I overheard Middle Daughter confiding to a friend. "I wish my mom would just go ahead and make my costume already," she said. "She always waits until the night before and I don't think I can take the pressure." It may have been devilish of me, but I smiled.

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