When I was a kid, my mom often decided what I was going to be for Halloween, running out on her lunch hour from work to buy my costume at the last minute. There was one year when I came home from school on Halloween and discovered I was going to wear the same witch costume I’d worn the year before. I was so disappointed. I knew she tried her best, but I just couldn’t help feel jealous of kids whose moms let them be whatever they wanted to be—moms who decorated their homes according to the seasons just like you see on Pinterest.
When my son, Javier, was born, I made a conscious decision to do a few things differently, and how I handle Halloween was at the top of my list. Luckily Javier has turned out to be a lover of year-round costumes, so Halloween is naturally his favorite holiday. We joke at our house that he has more costumes tucked inside the ottoman in the living room than Elton John has in his rock-star closet. Over the years, I’ve managed to stockpile a hefty arsenal of Halloween costumes and decorations thanks to clearance sales in early November. Every time I pick up something, I envision how it will look tastefully placed in our living room or on the front porch, with barrels of hay and beautifully shaped pumpkins picked at the local pumpkin patch on a gorgeous fall day.
We live in Florida, so most of the pumpkin picking we do is under hot, humid conditions, and I’m not sure if you’ve let your kid decorate your home recently, but they have all kinds of crazy ideas for how things should look. It’s nothing like what the folks on Pinterest do. Right now there is a giant wooden spider on top of my toilet. There are black cats and bats hanging from the edges of curtain rods and a front porch with haphazardly placed plastic ghosts, tombstones and a skeleton pirate. The worst part is all the extension cords—they’re all over the porch because it was the only way I could make Javier’s “vision” come to life. Every time we walk in or out of the house, we stand a good chance of tripping and breaking an ankle. None of it looks like the beautiful images I see online, but here’s something else you won’t find on any social media website: The palpable energy radiating from my son as he goes about decorating the house and porch. The smile on his face is huge. He takes every little thing seriously, often trying out different positions and locations for things until he feels it’s just right. He doesn’t need a gaggle of craft and decorating gurus to tell him what looks good and nudge him to “pin” something. The boy has instinct, determination and confidence.
A few nights ago when we finished decorating the porch, he kissed the back of my hand and said, “I love you Mommy. I just love Halloween!” He’s too young to connect the dots, but I know that kiss was laced with a lot more than love. It was chockfull of appreciation for my letting him do his thing, and that’s just not something you can pin.