I remember the Halloweens of my youth. I remember the year that my mom forced us to wear coats in a snowstorm, ruining our costumes, and having a blast anyway; the lucky, hyper recipients of extra candy because the wussy kids had obviously stayed home.
One Halloween, my brother and I dressed as old men, using my dad’s clothes, some bad makeup to draw scraggly beards on our faces, and a walking cane. That cane is the reason that we came home with candy at all after a couple of bullies tried to steal it on a dark corner between houses. Yup. I defended sugar with a cane, and I’d do it again.
I remember being a princess, a tiger, and a Raggedy Ann, and I remember ignoring my mom’s warnings each year to not eat anything on the way home. She first had to rifle through our loot, throwing all homemade popcorn balls, candied apples, and items in unsealed wrappers in the garbage.
They were sure to have LSD or razor blades buried within their sweet stickiness.
I remember the years between being too old for trick-or-treating and those when costumes became cool again, worn at beer-fueled parties. The clever among us snubbed the skanky Wonder Woman, sluttly nurse, and hooker-teacher costumes for ones based on current events.
I was particularly proud of the year that I won a contest at a local bar for my $12 ghetto-DIY ensemble of painted sweats with stapled construction-paper flames on them. I was a Firestone Tire right when they were being recalled for catching on fire.
Halloween was pretty much my night.
Some of the other clever costumes I look back on with a smile are The Girl Next Door, who was dressed like this,
…and some random dude who had built a little table around himself, complete with lamp and alarm clock.
He was a One Night Stand, and they probably got married.
Much later, I remember the Halloween when my son was just under four months old, and how adorable he looked in his baby dinosaur/alligator costume. I can still hear the buzz of children, see the lights and decorations, and almost smell the pride I felt carrying him around the neighborhood.
As I greedily held out his little bucket for treats that he was unable to eat, I could barely contain the excitement and sugar in my belly, knowing that the following year, he’d be able to waddle along on his own, wowing people by saying “Trick-or-Treat!” because surely he’d have an incredible vocabulary at the age of 15 months.
The next, dressed as a cowboy, he toddled the sidewalks with his friend who was dressed as a native American princess.
Afterwards, I assumed that next year would be the one to bring his vocabulary.
The year after that, he was a fireman, his tiny girlfriend a cat, and her daddy was a tree. Brilliant, and still not the year that brought me a little boy who could really say “Trick-or-Treat!” with any regularity or enthusiasm.
That was the year that I had begun to realize that his little girlfriend understood the concept, said “trick-or-treat!” and just looked braver. More sure. Or something. That was the Halloween before I knew that my little trick-or-treater was developmentally delayed and that there was a reason that when people opened their doors and said hello, that he tried to walk into their homes without bothering to look at them.
That was the year that everything changed. It was the one in which the “something’s wrong something’s wrong something’s wrong” whisper in my heart turned into a blaring alarm and the one in which my staring-up-at-the-ceiling nights led me to use my own words to ask about my son’s lack of them.
It was the year in which we got help.
And the next Halloween was the one in which Tucker was again a fireman, but this time, with a red uniform instead of a black one. And, it was without his little girlfriend.
Last year, my son Tucker was Superman, and my husband and I dressed as the Supers, sure that us being in costume would help alleviate some of his anxiety, and help him to more freely approach homes in pursuit of candy.
Mostly, it worked. We even got to appear next to Sandra Bullock in an article on NBC Today.
And here we are now, on this Halloween.
This Halloween, Tucker doesn’t know how far he’s come.
But I do.
He also doesn’t know how behind he still is, in so many ways.
But I do. He doesn’t know that I’m so so proud of him being excited to wear a really cheap and crappily made Batman costume.
He just knows that when he’s wearing it, he IS Batman.
This year, he gets that we’re going trick-or-treating, and he’ll mostly almost always say “Trick-or-Treat!” before hastily grabbing his candy. He won’t see how deliriously happy it makes me when he stops and waves to a boy up the street who recognizes him and says hi. He won’t see how far he’s come. But I will.
And we’ll rock this crappy Batman costume and he’ll rock the kindergarten parade at school tomorrow. While he may not look at all of the parents smiling down around him, he’ll look at the kids.
That he’s going to have fun because it’s supposed to be fun? That is my new Halloween. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I may wear a witch hat and a cape, and bring a little thermos filled with wine while we trick-or-treat though.
After all, it’s still my night too.
Note: The following has been going around a variety of blogs and on Facebook over the past couple of years. If you know the source for me to credit, please let me know. Anyway, here it is:
Tonight a lot of creatures will visit your door. Be open minded. The child who is grabbing more than one piece of candy might have poor fine motor skills. The child who takes forever to pick out one piece of candy might have motor planning issues. The child who does not say “trick or treat” or “thank you” might be painfully shy, non-verbal, or selectively mute. If you cannot understand their words, they may struggle with developmental apraxia of speech. They are thankful in their hearts and minds. The child who looks disappointed when he sees your bowl might have a life-threatening allergy. The child who isn’t wearing a costume at all might have SPD or autism. Be kind, be patient, smile, pretend you understand. It’s everyone’s Halloween. Make a parent feel good by making a big deal of their special child.
This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post, in which writers and bloggers finish a sentence and “link up” their posts. This week’s sentence was “One Halloween, I…”
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