Almost 3 in a homemade costume

Historically, Halloween is big business in our home. Our house all decked out in purple lights and spider webs. Homemade costumes obsessed over for weeks. Hard-core negotiations over candy in the supermarket holiday aisle.

However, last year found us in a hotel. This year, throwing around references to gopher wood and Noah’s Ark as the rain comes down in relentless sheets. While our weather is nothing like the images being broadcast of the wreckage of Sandy (we’re praying for you East Coast) this constant downpour has my kid retreating to  a youth group candy pot-luck and me considering turning off our lights tomorrow and munching on candy in front of a roaring fire.

Despite the change in plans, there is still the issue of a costume. Going to a church function puts a real crimp in any ghoulish ideas he might have entertained. I say might, because he recently told me, “Oh, I’ve outgrown the desire to scare people on Halloween.” Yay?!

And being nearly 16 creates a whole different dynamic to the costume considerations. Gone are the years when I could say, “Look at the great costume I made you, don’t you want to be a spider?!”  Now I have to find a subtle way of suggesting that the best way to combat your “I’m a science geek prodigy” reputation, is to go BIG. Make fun of yourself. Be silly. But no LARPing costumes. 

That would be weird. 

We’ve settled on something. I hope he’ll go, have a good time, and not obsess too much on how people react to his costume. I pray the other kids get his joke and are kind, because historically they’re not so good at either of those things. And I hold my breath against the impending tidal-wave of emotions that come with parenting a child nearly grown and gone. Gone, too, are the days without a thought or care of an empty nest. Or, if the thought did come, it was in relief. Then I’ll sleep. Then we’ll be alone. 

Because now it is. . . we’re nearly there.

And it makes me sad. In that bittersweet, I wish this would never end kind of way. I want that 3 year old back. I want a do-over. 

If I could go back and advise my past self, the mother of this bright, determined, difficult 3 year old I would tell me to focus on the bright. Challenge the difficult. And praise the determination with story. Lots of stories of how he had the tenacity to become his true self. His determination to maintain his integrity. His belligerence in the face of a world that told him  he needed to fit a certain mold. “Different drummer? I march to my own Orchestra!” 

Remember when. Remember when you’d wear any costume I gave you? Remember when you wouldn’t prove to your kindergarten teacher you knew how to tie your shoes, because you thought the bows on your shoes already made the point. And her making you do it again meant she thought you were lying?  

Remember when you would stop strangers in street and tell them that they were loved and that you had a blessing for them? Remember how I told you, one person per store? I shouldn’t have limited God’s grace. 

Remember how you used to tell me, “Not Daddy’s eggs.” Or, “Daddy no do.” I wish I’d learned to do it like daddy did it. Just once, with the eggs at least. 

Remember how you used to think the stars followed you home? Remember how a girl got you to learn how to ride your bicycle without training wheels. Remember the first girl who broke your heart? She was too old for you. You gave her candy for Valentine’s Day. The good stuff. In a heart shaped box because that meant love to you.  Remember. Remember. Remember.

If I could give those of you with small children any advice, I would tell you the same. Those moments where your word is the only thing that makes a difference are limited. Those moments will come to an end sooner than you can imagine. Use your power for good and tell them stories of their own strength. Their own wisdom. Their own courage. 


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