When I think of Halloween, I remember how much I loved it as a child. My older sisters would take me out with an empty pillowcase, and drag me around town far longer than either of my parents would have. I would spend weeks deciding what I’d dress up as. For many years in a row I went out as a puppy. When I got a little older, my mama sewed me amazing costumes – my favourite was my Raggedy Ann costume, complete with a yarn wig, that won me an award in my school assembly. Halloween was always fun.
As a parent, I want to be able to create those memories for Madeleine. I want her to look back on her childhood with fond memories of dressing up and going out on school nights to collect candy. She’s still young and we have many Halloween’s to look forward to, but I’m already learning that Halloween might not be for Maddy what it has always been for me.
Last year, Maddy went out as a monster:
She did not exactly love her costume, but she tolerated it. She became increasingly irritated as the night wore on and we continually took it off and put it back on so we could get her to fit snugly in her car seat. Overall, it was a pretty good first Halloween.
This year Maddy had a duck costume. I picked it up for $3 last year the day after Halloween. The thought had crossed my mind that being tactile defensive, Maddy might not like having her costume on this year. I thought ahead. I picked her up early from daycare and we played for an hour, focusing on proprioception to prepare her for the tactile challenge. I brought her costume out, provided deep pressure with the costume material, and let her explore it. Things were going really well. I waited patiently. Finally, she looked up at me with her big grey eyes, held the costume to her body and said, “Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.”
In that moment, I thought things might not go too badly. I slowly started to put her costume on. She started making funny faces as it was going on, but I thought, maybe she’ll acclimate to it.
She started to slowly pull at the costume. It didn’t take long before she was extremely agitated.
The poor thing was worked up. Very, very, very worked up. This was not just a, “I’m not sure about this but if I wait a bit I might get used to it” kind of thing. Maddy could not function with her costume on. She yanked and pulled and thrashed her body about, making it tough for me to get it off of her. We took it off and I worked at relaxing her, thinking that when Eric got home he might be able to work some daddy magic.
Maddy had her first taste of milk-free, dark chocolate as a special Halloween treat.
She settled on the couch to play with mommy’s bottle, relaxing as she twisted the cap on and off.
When Eric arrived home she had pretty well calmed down. He attempted for an hour or so to try and introduce her costume to her. The second he picked it up, she would start shaking her head, “no” ferociously and if he didn’t put it down, she’d start to whimper and cry. We decided to improvise and go out as our own little ducky (or as my sister says, as the character from Robert Munsch’s book, Mud Puddle).
Once we were costume-free, Maddy had a fantastic night. We went out and visited with some friends, and one of her great-grandma’s.
I should have foreseen this whole costume mishap. It took us months to get her to wear pants. Next year, we will be a bit more creative and use a warm, soft jogging suit as the base of her costume. None of this store-bought, scratchy, and constricting costume business. Next year we will be more prepared and hope that Halloween goes a bit more smoothly.
At 16.5 months of age, wearing a costume is not that big of a deal. As Maddy gets older, trick or treating without a costume will not be as accepted by some people. With that thought, I’ll leave you with something I saw on Facebook this year, “Be nice. Be patient. It’s everyone’s Halloween.”