Halloween lessons


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.”


7 responses »

  1. Pingback: It is hard, and it hurts « sewrite

  2. That notice is a good reminder.

    None of my children went out until after their 3rd birthdays. I must tell you of a moment that I will always remember about Tabitha. Her first Halloween trick or treating was when she was 3.5. She has no sensory issues and we dress up around our house all the time, so neither of those were an issue, but we weren’t sure how she would enjoy it. She was largely non-verbal. We went to the neighbour’s. She needed much prompting to knock and to hold up her bag (no words, but her best friend was there to say “Trick or Treat”. The candy dropped in (I prompted her to say Thanks) and she came back down the stairs and her friend went to go to the next house (instead of back home) and I watched as her eyes got a little wider and she said one word: “more?” And I said “yes.” She was in awe. We went to the next house and AGAIN they gave her some candy. Again she was in awe. Again she looked at me, this time pointed to the next and said “more?”. So, on we went until the “more!”‘s stopped (about 12 houses, with me saying “Trick or Treat” for her and her discovering the “magic” of trick-or-treating.

    Halloween has remained her favourite holiday. This year she decided not to go trick-or-treating. She wanted to stay and “scare” the people at our door. The urge to scold her into compliance and argue that she would regret it tomorrow came upon me – and I took a deep breath and swallowed it and went out to trick-or-treat with my other two daughters. I need to learn to adjust to Tabitha in some of the same ways that we ask her to adjust to what we think she should do. She showed no regrets (I thought there would be some when her sister’s brought their candy back). It reminded me that this daughter of mine simply thinks differently and that if she wasn’t upset, that there was no reason I should be. It was a tiny bit sad though – thinking that my 10 yr old might be finished trick-or-treating. I’ll survive. Her father will have to make-do with 1/3 less candy. 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing your story. It made me all teary-eyed. So sweet! We have yet to attempt going door-to-door… we just (try to) dress-up and go visit some folks. I hope when we try real trick-or-treating we have a sweet story to remember like you do 🙂

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