Quentin is not a big fan of Halloween. He’s okay with it, but it’s not his favorite holiday. He can do without it, actually… unlike most American children I know.
I can say this now, but I didn’t really know it a week ago.
Sure, the kids loves candy – who doesn’t? He also likes dressing up. But the build up to the day, the pageantry, the excessive walking, social interaction, and the crowds – those things he could really do without.
I sort of assumed it was as big a deal to him as it was to Fiona. A few months ago, I was determined to figure out Quentin’s costume (store-bought, of course – I have no time to be a creative mom). Last year my kids had a great time sharing a costume theme, but I knew that was not going to happen this year. I spent some time cutting-and-pasting some costumes I saw on the internet that I thought he would enjoy.
“Sponge Bob!” he said.
“Yes, Sponge Bob. Is that what you want your costume to be?” I prodded.
“Banana!” he giggled.
“Yes, that’s a funny costume! Do you want that to be your costume?”
He responded with “Robot!”
“Uh… yeah. That’s a really nice looking robot. I agree.”
Fiona chimed in with her various opinions. (She also insisted I make a choice picture like his but with girl costumes, which I eventually did, even though I know she could go to the store with me or pick something out on the computer without this kind of visual help. Like every sibling, she wants things to be fair.) Quentin went back to playing on his iPad. I showed him the picture again. “Which is it, Quentin? We have to make a decision.”
“Spongebobbananarobot!” he exclaimed.
“You need to pick one though.”
I sighed. I let him return to the iPad, as it was getting nowhere. The next day, I hit him up at breakfast with the same paper. “So which is it?” I asked. “You can pick one.”
“Spongebobbananarobot!” he laughed over his cheerios. Fiona laughed with him.
So much for picture prompts. I knew that this would forever be his little joke, and I would simply have to choose something. I knew he would comply if I just picked one. I went with Robot. (Although, I must admit that inside I was a little giddy at the fact that he was making a joke with me, and even Fiona liked his joke, too. Score one point for appropriate social interaction with sibling even though it is at Mom’s expense!)
The costume was delivered a week later and he was happy to see it. He tried on the hat and went right to the mirror with a smile. I knew this would be a hit. We had a few weeks to go before Halloween, so I tucked it away.
When Halloween finally arrived, he had to take his costume to school for the “Fall Festival” (or, Halloween activities without actually naming the holiday). Parents were invited, so I popped in. He was wearing the robot costume, but not very happily. He refused to wear the hat. By the time he got home, he was done with the Robot costume altogether. He did not want to wear it again for trick-or-treating.
Luckily, I keep a lot of dress-up costume pieces on hand. We have hand-me-down costume pieces, stuff we’ve had around since preschool, or I pick up little headbands or hats at places like Target if they look cute. Quentin has a love of hats and putting things on his head, so they are good to have on hand. I told Quentin that he could pick out a few things for trick-or-treating and gave him some suggestions. He really liked the fangs that Fiona was originally going to wear (oral sensory stimulation!) and wanted to use those. We added a few things, took away a few things, and he ended up going out to trick-or-treat looking like this:
For Quentin, once the costume was on, there was no waiting around for Fiona’s friends to show up. He insisted on leaving. So Mike took him trick-or-treating while I stuck with Fiona and her small group. He lasted a few blocks and came home, eager to open the lollipops and munch on the M&M’s. He was done. (Fiona, on the other hand, raced around our neighborhood with her friends filling up her tub. I am hoping all the energy they put into candy-collecting made up for the calories consumed once we were home.)
Quentin, once again, has reminded me that my values are not his. This week I learned that Quentin does really enjoy Halloween, but only on his terms. He likes dressing up, but he prefers juxtaposing costume pieces. He likes funny things and has a silly sense of humor. He also does not like wearing costumes for very long. He does not want to collect massive amounts of candy. He does not need to make this a social event. I learned to respect how he perceives this holiday, and not make such a big deal out of it.
Let’s hope I remember this for next year…