‘Tis now the very witching time of night, when churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out contagion to this world.
– William Shakespeare
No holiday conjures up as much existential angst and parental-control conflict in kids as Halloween does. Really. It’s no wonder many kids have issues with authority and role confusion.
In the days running up to the holiday, most kids dream of toting home the sugar-encrusted spoils from a night of “trick or treating”. On the morning before the hallowed eve, some kids are also trying to figure out how they can smuggle into their bedrooms the stuff they know their parents will most likely confiscate.
Then there are the safety talks …
- “DON’T eat anything until I can check it!”
- “DON’T cross the street!”
- “DONT go into anyone’s house. STAY on the porch!”
- “DON’T talk to strangers!”
- “HOLD your baby brother’s hand!”
… and the requisite stern lectures about kooks putting razors in apples and rat poison in popcorn balls.
What’s most disconcerting, however, are the identity issues. The morning before children chime “Trick or treat, smell my feet!” little kids dream of donning the robes, masks, and colors of their idols. They yearn to be all they are not, and stroll the neighborhood brandishing their alter egos with heads held high. Well, that is until the practical matter of actually getting a Halloween costume comes up. If Freud were alive, I wonder what he would make of my own experiences at the age of six years old:
Me: Mom, I need a Halloween costume.
Mom: Oh … do you want me to make you something? How about a wizard’s hat?
Me: No! Do I look like Mickey Mouse?
Mom: So, what do you want to be for Halloween? A Maccabee?
Me: (stomping my foot) Are you kidding? I want to be a skeleton!
Mom: (spitting) Phtoi, phtoi, phtoi! What do you want to be THAT for?
Me: It’s Halloween! What do you want me to be, a clown?
Mom: Clowns make people laugh. What’s wrong with that?
Me: No one goes as Bozo for Halloween! Are you kidding me?
Mom: How about a weatherman?
Mom: You can use the umbrella and your rain coat, and I can tape some clouds and rainbows on your coat.
Me: (scowling) No! I want to be a skeleton.
Mom: You’re not going as THAT! (spitting) Phtoi, phtoi, phtoi! What about Superman?
Mom: You can use a sheet for the cape.
Me: Batman doesn’t have a white cape, and Superman doesn’t neither.
Mom: Why don’t you be a wizard? Want me to make you a wizard’s hat with felt planets on it?
Me: No! I don’t want to be a wizard! What about a ghost? I can cut two holes for eyes in a sheet.
Mom: You’re not cutting holes in my sheets. Superman doesn’t cut holes in his sheets.
Me: I said a ghost! You’re not listening!
Mom: A ghost? (spitting) Phtoi, phtoi, phtoi! What do you want people to think, you’re dead?
Me: Mom! You have to be something scary for Halloween!
Mom: A wizard isn’t scary? I can make you a hat and you can use a blanket as a magic cloak.
Me: What would I use for a wand? I need a wand, you know.
Mom: You don’t need a wand!
Me: Of course, I need a wand! All wizards use wands to do magic!
Mom: You’re not going to run around with a stick. You might poke your baby brother’s eye out by accident.
Me: Forget it then. Wizards are stupid anyway. I know. I’ll go as a mummy. I’ll use some toilet paper to wrap myself in, and use ketchup for blood.
Mom: (spitting) Phtoi, phtoi, phtoi! You’re not going as a corpse! – Especially an Egyptian one.
Me: Well I’m not wearing that stupid Yogi Bear mask again! And, I’m NOT going to be a stupid wizard!
— A Short Time Later —
Dad: Hey! Where are you going with that toilet paper?
Me: I’m going to make a mummy costume.
Dad: What the hell’s the matter with you? Do you know how expensive toilet paper is? Put it back! Now!
Me: Mom won’t let me go as a skeleton and says I should be a weatherman for Halloween (rolling eyes) … or she wants to make me a stupid wizard’s hat.
Dad: Fine. You can have one roll. Put the others back.
Me: One roll! What am I gonna do with one roll? That’s maybe enough for my legs! What about the rest of my body? What do I wear to cover my face?
Dad: Why don’t you make a mask like the Lone Ranger has? Forget about the toilet paper. Wait a minute … didn’t I buy you a costume last year? Go find it!
Me: (under my breath) Crap! (louder) It’s a Yogi Bear mask! It’s for babies! I’m not a baby, and I’m not going as a stupid cartoon character! I’m six-years old! Come on, dad. Can’t we go to Zayre’s department store and see what costumes they have? If you like the Lone Ranger, you can get me a cowboy hat and a pop gun.
Dad: You’re not getting a pop gun. Ok, look, we need to get some candy for the kids who come to the door anyway, so we’ll take a ride over to Zayre’s. You can look around and get some ideas, but don’t ask me to buy anything!
Me: (Knowing he’ll get me something anyway …) Thanks, dad!
Dad: Go tell your mom we’re going … and to get ready to go.
Me: Shit! Do we have to take mom?
— Later That Night —
Me: Wow! That’s a neat skeleton costume. Where did you get it?
Neighborhood Kid: At Zayre’s. Hey (laughing) are you like Fred Flintstone or what?
Me: (sigh) Yeah … But see the ketchup? That’s blood where a dinosaur bit me.
Neighborhood Kid: (rolling eyes) Sure. What’s with your baby brother?
Me: He’s Yogi Bear.
Neighborhood Kid: Oh yeah? Why is he wearing a wizard’s hat, too?
— End —
Public Service Information – For all concerned parents everywhere: