It feels like Halloween always sneaks up on me. After my son’s birthday, it’s a hop, skip and a scream into the holiday season, and yet, I forget that every year. Even though we call Thanksgiving into Christmas the “holiday season,” I’d argue it really starts at Halloween because Thanksgiving is the bridge holiday. We went to Target a week and a half before Halloween, and there were already Christmas decorations out! I picked up two Christmas tree ornaments for my kid alongside the four bags of Halloween candy we got.
As a parent, Halloween is always such a mess of a holiday. You ask your kid what they want to be, they tell you, you get the costume, and then they change their mind or want to wear the costume before the holiday and you fight about it. My son is incredibly picky and also incredibly indecisive, so picking out a Halloween costume is a literal nightmare. There were a few years when he wasn’t really interested in celebrating, and they were my absolute favorite. But now that he’s in school, dressing up is important, even if we’re not going to celebrate. If the holiday falls on a school day, then the kids can wear their costumes. And more often than not, Halloween has fallen on a school day since he started kindergarten.
In kindergarten, he decided he wanted to be Spider-Man. I bought him a costume online that was going to get to us in time for the actual day, but not for the Halloween party we were attending the weekend before. I found him a super cheap Spidey costume and had to fight with him to wear the more expensive costume to school. There was screaming and crying, and somehow I still managed to get out the door with my dignity intact. Two years later, I was less successful trying to get him to wear the Power Rangers costume he picked out. Moral of the story: My son doesn’t like costumes with fake muscles. That means most superheroes are out. Last year, he went as Ash Ketchum from Pokémon, which was cute. This year, he’s going as some Minecraft character. Please don’t ask me which one; he has told me a dozen times and it does not compute. All I know is that it’s not Steve, and the ax we got should have been a sword.
This year is the first time in a couple years that he can go trick or treating. He usually has his afterschool program on Halloween and has had to skip tricks and treats. This kid was so excited that he picked out his Halloween costume the last weekend in September. More importantly, he hasn’t changed his mind! He has been asking to wear it while he plays, and I keep telling him no. We’ll both be happy when he can turn it into a dress-up costume.
Halloween is one of those holidays that remind me that even though I have a “big” kid, he’s still just a kid, and he’s clearly not in a hurry to grow up. He was so excited to walk through the costume section of Target, giving us his commentary on why he likes or dislikes costumes. His eyes lit up when he saw that there were Minecraft costumes, and I have never seen him make a decision so quickly and definitively. He’s already talking about taking his McDonald’s Boo Buckets with him to collect all the candy he’s going to get, telling us he’s not willing to share with me or his stepmom. I reminded him that he only likes a couple kinds of candy, so the rest of his bucket is fair game. Even though he’s 10 and theoretically the days of wanting to trick or treat are winding down, he’s so excited about dressing up and going out to knock on strangers’ doors for candy.
He may be 10, but he still needs a grownup with him, and I’m happy to oblige. We’re going trick or treating with my friend and her four-year-old son, but her neighbor’s kids are my son’s age, so he’ll have some big kids to hang with. I’ve convinced my partner we should dress up too, even though her dreams of a family costume never came to fruition. She desperately hung on to the dream of us being Alvin and the Chipmunks for YEARS, but my kiddo just wasn’t that into it. It would have been perfect — the three of us naturally identify with a specific Chipmunk, but we missed our opportunity. A 10-year-old doesn’t want to wear matching costumes with his moms, and that’s fair.
Right now, I’m trying to enjoy this as much as I can. He is 10, and I know we only have a couple more years of trick or treating and wanting to hang out with his moms and not his friends. I still remember dressing him up as a pumpkin for his first Halloween, and now he’s dressing up as some sort of game character that carries a sword (not a pickaxe, as he not so gently corrected me). Gone are the days of pushing him in a stroller or holding his hand as he walks up to a house and plucks a lollipop from a bowl. Now I stand on the sidewalk and yell at him to grab me a Snickers if they have one. I still have to monitor the amount of candy he eats, but that’s because I don’t want him to eat all the Tootsie Pops.
These moments are fleeting, and of course he can’t understand why I want to take a million pictures of him in his costume before he goes to school. I can still remember dressing up and going trick or treating when I was his age, and now I’m the mom who’s combing through the candy bucket. The only thing that is still the same is that I don’t understand fruit flavored Tootsie Rolls or why people give out Good & Plentys. Pretty soon, I’m going to be yelling at him to not cause trouble with his friends while I drop him off and eat a 150 piece bag of Hershey miniatures while I cry about my son not needing me anymore. Honestly? I’m not prepared for it.
In two years, he’ll be starting middle school, and in three years he’ll officially be a teenager. I feel like Halloween is one of those things that marks the end of childhood and the beginning of everything that comes next. I don’t know if this year is going to be the last one where he wants to trick or treat and watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with me, so I’m going to enjoy it as much as I can.
What are y’all doing for Halloween? Do you dress up? I want to see!
Queer Mom Chronicles is a column where I examine all of the many facets of queer parenthood through my tired mom eyes.