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Halloween. Boooo! Beware of the spooks and goblins! Beware of the witches and black cats! Beware of the... hey, wait a second! What the heck are you supposed to be?

It seems like most of the kids I've seen at the various Halloween parades over the years have put some serious thought into what they are going to be. Really, I've seen costumes that are so intricately designed that it makes me think their parents are definitely better parents than me. And then there are my kids. Let's put it this way, no matter what they've decided to be, at the very last second they've morphed into something that makes you go hmm. 

Yes, those are my kids that people look at and either get a really good chuckle or fall into a state of perplexed wonder. Frankly, I'm sure it's more along the lines of wondering what kind of parent lets their kid be that. 

You see, I'm not a huge Halloween nut. I never was one of those parents who put their sweet little baby into a bee costume. Not that those little tiny insects/woodland creatures/baby from the Adams Family are not super adorable. It's just that, well, okay, I'll admit it, I was a bit lazy when it came to dressing up teeny kids into something that would surely make them squirm and make my life miserable for the 15 minutes they wore it. So, for us, the kids never dressed up in Halloween costumes until they were old enough to pick what they wanted to be and go trick-or-treating without one of us having to carry them. Yeah, yeah, super mom of the year, I know. 

When it came time for the kids to finally dress up, we’d start talking about it about a month in advance of the event. No, I wasn't falling over saying, "What are you going to be? Would it be fun to be a (insert cute kid costume idea here)?" I was more concerned about making sure they had something to wear for the school parade. So, we'd head to the store, look at the costumes, I'd try to convince them to wear something that wouldn't be a total pain, and after some finagling, return home confident that I wasn’t such a bad parent after all.

This approach has led to some pretty interesting costumes over the years including a pirate that wore a superman cape and poorly attached fake horror movie scars; a zombie vampire with a pirate hand; an I don't know what wearing a black t-shirt, long scraggly black wig and an orange eye mask; a muscled Spider Man wearing an army helmet and an eye patch; and the list goes on and on.

The majority of those costumes are attributed to my older son, who has a pretty darn good sense of humor. I always anticipated that my younger son, who is much more serious, would not fall into the rag-tag mix-it-up costume tradition. He follows everything (I mean EVERYTHING) to the T.

On his first Halloween, he told me he wanted to be SpongeBob. Alright! This was my chance to be good mom and maybe even make a costume. Let's see, we'd need a box, paint it yellow, etc., etc. Nope, he didn't want my handy work; it would be much better if we just bought the costume he saw in an ad. Well, okay. I got the costume and we were set.

Later that week, we stopped by the store to pick up some candy. It was there that he saw a Frankenstein mask for $1. This is probably where I got myself into trouble with the other one, but it was just a dollar. I couldn't help myself. It was well worth it, he loved that mask. He wore it outside to play, drive in his little Fred Flintstone car, the grocery, anywhere he could get away with it. I really liked my little Frankenstein sidekick.

Halloween morning, I put his SpongeBob costume in his bag for school and dropped him off. Driving away I felt a little smug satisfaction that this would be the year one of my kids would just be normal. I arrived back at preschool later that morning and stood in the big room waiting for the parade to begin. Here they came--a teddy bear, a few princesses, a pirate, Spider Man, and then, there he was--Frankenstein dressed up as SpongeBob. Here we go again.

The reality is, I never minded my kid's crazy costumes. If that's how they wanted to embellish their boring store bought outfits, that was just fine with me. I didn't care what they wore or what other parents thought of me.  Honestly, you have to pick your battles. And a one day dress-up event is not the time to draw swords. Let them be kids, let them have fun, let them be what they want to be--in the whole scheme of things it just doesn't matter that much.

This year, relax and have a safe, fun Halloween. If your kids decide they want to be something that no one else will be, embrace it. It's totally worth it. And, I guarantee you will have a great laugh every time you look at those pictures for the rest of your life.

Mollie Protzman

Mollie Protzman


Mollie is an Omaha native and a mom of two boys ages 13 and 8. She's been married for 20 years and spent most of those first 10 years living in various cities around the country. Before kids, she was in marketing communications and public relations and then stayed home with her boys for 11 years while doing freelance writing on the side. The day after her youngest one went to kindergarten, she just about went berserk with the quiet in the house and nothing constructiv ...

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