Boys’ Halloween Costumes: Why so scary?
“You’re NEVER going to let us be ANYTHING but a FIREMAN or a PRINCESS!” shouted R, angry that I wouldn’t let him be the grim reaper or Chucky for Halloween. For the record, I never made my boys dress as princesses (though we do have an Elsa dress in our dress-up bin, chosen by my son, not me) — and last year E chose to be a fireman.
What is it about Halloween and boys and SCARY that all must go together? My eldest son is only 8 and he feels he has lost out on years of having to wear non-scary costumes for Halloween. With my youngest having only just turned 3, and in a neighborhood filled with little kids, and with everything scary going on in the world today, I don’t see why we have to make Halloween all about scaring others. Can’t dressing up just be FUN?
Growing up, Halloween meant two things to me:
- Using my imagination. It was aspirational, inspirational and fun to dress up as something I wasn’t on a daily basis — an alien, a robot, Rapunzel, a skydiver, a cheerleader, an apple, a fork . . . and a chance to craft the costume from poster board and construction paper and fabric and glue with my mom.
- Chocolate. So. Much. Chocolate.
My kids are totally on board with the chocolate gig. But this whole “use your imagination to be something you don’t usually get to be” isn’t flying with them . . . unless it’s scary. My own husband sort of laughed at me and said, “Really? Look around. Halloween actually is mostly about scary stuff.”
I knew the day would come when my kids would have stronger opinions about their costumes, and when they may not want the homemade touch they’ve had in some of the past years (note: I don’t have a sewing machine, but successfully crafted a peanut M&M costume one year and a silly headless guy in a button-down shirt another year, both with that “I-have-good-ideas-that-sometimes-fall-down-on-execution” flair). I just didn’t know it would be this soon! But after weeks of back and forth chatter about zombies, ghosts, skeletons, grim reapers, death raptors and more, countered by my suggestions of super-heroes or funny food items (you can’t go wrong dressing up like bacon, right?) and ordinary objects (be a lamp on a table! That’s cool, right?), I gave up and gave in.
Why? It’s simple, really:
- Empowerment: There is little my kids are in complete control of. Giving them a little more freedom to choose a costume this year — even if I’m not entirely on board — shows them I respect their choices. I’ll go so far as to say I can reason that this is a step in the right direction toward them becoming choiceful, decisive young men. Nah, probably too far-fetched.
- Excitement: If dressing up as a ghost reaper (whatever that is) and a scary skeleton for a few hours makes my kids excited, then that’s a good outcome. Happy kids — a good goal to have.
- Imagination: While I’d be happier if I could dress them up as gumball machines or guitars or innocuous themes like that, I love seeing their imaginations run wild as they envision themselves on ghostly missions and they feel brave behind those bony costumes.
- Peace-keeping: My kids fight with me about lots of things. It was time to put this particular battle to rest and see their smiling faces again. (plus, I’m not convinced their masks will be comfortable, so maybe, just maybe, they won’t wear them all night!)
I offer my apologies in advance if they scare any of you or your children. Just know that there are two curly-haired, silly boys under those masks, celebrating a win against Mommy and walking in someone else’s shoes for a day. And right by their side will be one 3-year-old snuggly shark (because I can still choose his costume!), and me, coping with chocolate.
Have your kids chosen scary costumes, and if yes, at what age? How do you feel about it?