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Today's Family Magazine

MOMMY CHRONICLES: Halloween costume hijinks

Sep 22, 2021 03:24PM ● By Today's Family

By Stacy Turner

As new parents we looked forward to our child’s first Halloween as yet another milestone and photo opportunity to be celebrated.  We bought our tickets for Boo at the Zoo in advance and planned that first costume before the leaves began changing.  It didn’t matter that our little one was too young to enjoy most of the trick or treats.  

And as a newly formed family of three, we wanted to be a part of the costume fun, too.  Dressing our little one in a lion costume made of a fuzzy, light brown hooded onesie, we topped her head with a handmade yarn mane to keep our little cub toasty on that chilly fall night.  And just in case the temperature dropped further, we wedged her into the stroller with enough extra blankets to cover the Serengeti.  My husband and I wore vests, pith helmets, and binoculars, ready for the safari. 

That’s how my career in the family costume department began.  The year little sister arrived, big sis wanted to be a flower, so it made scents (err, sense) for baby sis to go as a bumblebee.  Since costumes couldn’t be easily found, I created them using a mix of purchased clothing, fancy fabric, and some rudimentary sewing skills. As the years went by, the requests kept coming.

The year my eldest was Tinkerbelle and the youngest was an alligator; our family was invited to a costume party.  My husband vetoed the girls’ suggestion he play Peter Pan, but appeased them by playing Captain Hook.  Later, during the mortgage crisis, he and I dressed in business suits with name tags that read “Freddy Mac” and “Fannie Mae” while our girls dressed in cardboard houses, our own little foreclosures.

Another year, the eldest wanted to be a monarch butterfly.  While generic butterfly wings were easy to find that year, none were made with the specific markings of her chosen species, so I got to work again. Using a set of fairy wings as a base, I fashioned canvas wings that could be decorated with the distinct markings of that particular Lepidoptera. My husband and daughter spent hours hand-painting them; with the vision and all the extra effort, she was hopeful she’d win the costume contest at our small community gathering. 

Meanwhile, our youngest had trouble choosing from the plethora of well-loved options in our dress-up box.  Should she be a princess, and if so, which one?  How about an OSU cheerleader, because the pompoms were fun…or a doctor with a stethoscope?  She finally settled on the Wizard of Oz Dorothy costume handed down from her cousin. Rummaging through her toys, she found a cute picnic basket and small stuffed Toto look alike.  We bought a shiny pair of ruby slippers and she was ready for the Yellow Brick Road in no time flat. 

As we headed to the costume party, Ms. Monarch was optimistic, while Dorothy busied herself sorting the candy she’d collected earlier that evening.  And I’d like to say that all the planning and hard work paid off for my budding butterfly expert, but that’s not how it worked out. The competition in her age group was pretty fierce that year.  It seems residents of our tiny town were hitting Pinterest pretty hard.  She lost out to a real-life American Girl doll walking around in a life-size, perfectly branded box.  Ironically, our little Dorothy took the prize in her category, which made the event sting just a little more for our young entomologist.

Over the years, we’ve created a host of costumes that reflect a varied array of my kids’ interests, from made-up personas like a candy corn fairy, to well-known characters including Captain America, Batman, and Minions.  We made it through with a little creativity, basic crafting skills, and a lot of duct tape.

If there’s a moral to the story, maybe it’s to come up with an idea you love and just go for it.  And even though those fancy wings didn’t win a prize, they hung on the wall throughout my daughter’s butterfly phase, reminding her of the time she and her dad worked so hard to create her favorite species.  And Dorothy’s ensemble worked because my younger daughter had fun working with what she had.  Or maybe the moral is this –– that with the right shoes, you can accomplish anything.