I had my first Spirit Halloween store sighting on August 2. Halloween. Oh parents of the very young. You are so very fortunate, but you don’t yet realize it. If your child is under the age of 4, you have complete and total control of the costume. You can dress your baby boy as a pirate, like this:
(He’s wearing girl’s tights, and he doesn’t know it. I still have complete control.)
And once you’ve added another to your growing litter of children, you can put them in cute, quirky costumes that reflect your own creativity and clever sense of humor, like this:
The chef and the chicken. Yes, one of my finest.
Halloween age five was a bit of a push on my part for Braden, but I was still influential enough to convince him that Captain Hook is TOTALLY awesome, and that Annalise really wanted to dress in pairs again that year.
She actually did not care. The Tinkerbell costume had glitter, which is strictly forbidden in our house, so Annalise was sold.
It was third grade-ish when Braden claimed costume independence and declared that he wanted to be “scary guy.”
Oh, my heart. My baby boy was dressed as some ugly cousin version of the guy from Scream, and it was completely unadorable. At least I still had the girls under costume control.
Third grade is the year that Annalise claimed costume independence as well, opting for “scary witch” with blood oozing from the corners of her mouth. Also unadorable. At least I still have the little one. However, even at 3 1/2 years old, she was lobbying for a zombie costume.
Each year of elementary/middle school grows increasingly more difficult. None of their friends will commit to dressing up until the day before Halloween. I’ll give you a glimpse of the coming years entitled “Halloween and Your Fourth Grade Daughter.” Alternately, “How Spirit Halloween Killed My Halloween Spirit.”
At the beginning of October, you begin questioning your fourth grade daughter about her thoughts of Halloween attire. She is noncommittal, stating that no one is thinking about this yet. You amass a pile of costume catalogs and printable coupons/coupon codes on the kitchen table in hopes of sparking her interest. It does, and she laments that none of the costumes are good. All the cute ones are only for her younger sister, hence, life is unfair. The second week of October brings on a bit more anxiety for you. How fast is the shipping at Costume Express? If you want free shipping, you have to get all kids on board TODAY for ordering costumes. You gently ask again, “Honey, so what’s the word on Halloween? What are your friends doing?” She responds, “I doooon’t knoooow, Moooooom!” To which you respond, “Maybe you and (fill in the blank) could have matching costumes! I could take you both shopping!” Anything to get this off the list. After all, fall party time is fast approaching as is the fall festival at church which will require loads of baking and craftiness. Don’t forget that the fall sport of choice is dwindling and there will be an end of season party to attend. And the trip to the pumpkin farm.
By the way, matching costumes is a totally lame idea. No one would do that. Your daughter is 9. She knows these things. It is now the third week of October. Forget free shipping. It is not happening at this point. Your oldest is too cool to dress up, and your youngest wants her mermaid costume from last year, which is awesome, but you still have a fourth grade daughter. At this point you start texting other moms because your daughter has disengaged from the Halloween conversation completely. You don’t know if it’s comforting or frustrating that all the other fourth grade daughter Mamas are in the same boat. You drag her through the costume section of Target only because you love self-torture. Week four of October has arrived. Still no costume, still no interest in looking for a costume, still no talk of a costume. Halloween is in four days. Your daughter realizes that she has no costume for the fall party or for trick or treating, and it’s all your fault. “I DON’T HAVE A COSTUME! WHY HAVEN’T YOU BOUGHT ME A COSTUME? I WILL BE THE ONLY ONE WITHOUT A COSTUME!” And now, Mama, you realize you have only one option left. Target has been completely ransacked. All that’s left is a French maid costume in XXL, a Jason mask, and an open package containing a partial Elmo costume. There is nothing quirky or clever about this. You load up the three children and go to Spirit Halloween store. Your coupons have expired. All the good twenty-percent-saving mothers of the world have already purchased, so you will be paying full price. You enter Spirit Halloween, and you are reminded yet again that this store is not for the faint of heart or young first born children. Your children spend 45 minutes trying out all the blood covered zombie babies and jumping spiders. Your three year old is not actually frightened by any of this, as she has been exposed to all this early on simply because she has older siblings. However, she pushes every button in the store three times (because she doesn’t want any of the dead guys to feel left out) and lets out a fake high pitched scream each time. Your fourth grade daughter sulks unhappily because there are no good costumes. Remember? All the cute costumes only fit her younger sister, hence, life is unfair. You have been in Spirit for an hour and a half. You haven’t seen your older son. (Wait, you did bring him here, right?) He is probably playing Clash of Clans on his phone, or he has fallen asleep. Your three year old has climbed into the display coffin with a fake corpse, and all you can manage is “Stay there, honey.” Your blood sugar is dropping because it is almost dinner time and all you have is sugar free gum and crushed goldfish crumbs in your purse. Your fourth grade daughter picks up Every. Single. One. of the toddler costumes and proclaims their cuteness. “Yes, daughter, they are cute. WILL YOU PICK OUT A COSTUME, FOR THE LOVE?! We’ve been her for almost two hours!!!” Your fourth grade daughter does not notice the patience that you have exhibited for the past hour and 45 minutes. YOU ARE RUSHING HER! *sniff, sniff* HOW IS SHE SUPPOSED TO WALK IN AND PICK OUT A COSTUME IN FIVE MINUTES??? She eventually settles on a clown. Aaaaaand, of course there are no clown costumes in her size, but you are here in Spirit Halloween, and your spirit has died a little, and you will leave here with a clown costume. Since it is physically impossible to fit her into a 4T costume, you have only one other choice, the adult section. Joy of joys, there is an extra small clown costume. A fabric-challenged clown costume. Because it is the only extra small clown costume, you buy it anyway. At full price. With no coupon. And it is roughly $20 more expensive than the child’s version, which contains twice as much material as the fabric-challenged adult costume. The neckline plunges almost to her belly button, and the rainbow tutu barely covers her tush, and she’s 9. How is this supposed to fit an adult? (Side note: If you grew up in the 1980’s and read Stephen King’s IT, you know there is no such thing as a sexy clown or even a funny clown, for that matter. Clowns are scary and creepy, and they should be permanently banned.)
So, Mama, this is how you pull it off. Your fourth grade daughter goes to school in a complete outfit of shirt and leggings plus her costume and A LOT of safety pins.
So for now, Moms of Littles, buy the overpriced fluffy owl costume, or the second hand lady bug costume from Goodwill. YOU have full control over Halloween right now. Enjoy it!