Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Costumes

Last year, Ezra answered “frog” every time he was asked what he wanted to dress as for Halloween. At least this is how he answered the month and half up to Halloween. Then he changed his mind. After seeing his completed costume he decided, “I don’t want to be anything.”

Ezra reluctantly wearing half of his frog costume.
I love Halloween, and I was sad that not only did Ezra no longer share my enthusiasm for the upcoming holiday but that his change of heart was entirely my fault. When Ezra said he wanted to be a “frog” for Halloween, he meant the “frog”: Kermit the Frog. This was obvious to both Amanda and I, but for several reasons I vetoed the idea. Ideologically, I preferred Ezra to dress in a costume that was not a licensed character. Amanda and I planned to avoid exposing Ezra to TV and pop-culture characters for as long as possible. By two, he could already name every supporting character on the Muppets as well as the cast of Yo Gabba Gabba!, Dinosaur Train, and Sesame Street. Dressing Ezra as Kermit seemed to point out one of the many discrepancies between how we had planned to parent and our real parenting. Oh, the pressure to be perceived as a crunchy parents. On an equally selfish but even more superficial level, I had a great idea for a tree-frog costume that I thought would be cuter than a Kermit costume. It turns out that a tree-frog costume that nobody wears is not really that cute, and I had allowed my own self-interests to ruin this holiday, a day in which you can be whoever or whatever you want, for my child.

This year when I asked Ezra what he wanted to be for Halloween, I tried not to treat his answer as the first suggestion in a costume brain storming session. When he again said he wished to be Kermit the Frog, I began thinking of how to construct a Kermit costume.  In complete honesty, I first countered with, “How about Animal?” before reminding myself of last year’s lesson. Ezra continued to talk about being Kermit for a month and a half, and then changed his mind a week before Halloween.

This time he changed his mind because he thought of another costume he was even more excited to wear. Kermit was out and replaced by Pidsley, the “mean cat,” on Shaun the Sheep. Shaun the Sheep is a stop-motion, animated television series produced by Aardman Animations for the BBC. The cat is a supporting character only appearing in a few of the second season’s episodes, so the costume is obscure even for people who are familiar with the show. I anticipated that nobody would have any idea who Ezra was dressed as even after we simplified the costume from his initial request. Originally, he asked to be the “mean cat” wearing a cheetah costume as he does in one episode to scare the sheep. I respected his ambition, but we agreed wearing a costume on top of a costume might be too confusing.

Getting in character.

Even though no one recognized his costume, Ezra loved being the “mean cat.”  He completely immersed himself in the character: growling, showing his claws, communicating with animated gestures, and giggling at the thoughts of his evil plans. In a Halloween episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the characters literally become their Halloween costumes. If you dressed as a ghost, these magical costumes turned you into a ghost. Ezra’s Pidsley costume seemed to have the same effect. I now imagine what I missed by not making the Kermit costume last year. A wonderful Halloween night filled with a toddler playing the banjo, singing Rainbow Connection, and introducing very special guest stars from 70’s now only exists in my regrets.


Anonymous said...

This post is such a great example, on a small scale, of how hard it must be to let kids do what they want instead of what you think would be fun/interesting/whatever. Sorry he didn't wear the tree frog costume, but clearly "mean cat" made up for all of that.

Garry said...

I agree. I have found that as a parent I have to constantly remind myself that Ezra is a separate person and not an extension of myself. He has his own personality that includes his own likes and dislikes. Though this seems obvious, I think many parents struggle with this. For example, I often suspect when listening to parents discuss their kid’s music preferences that I am really just learning what mom or dad thinks is cool for kids to listen to. “My kid only listens to [parent’s favorite music] and doesn’t really like music made for kids.”

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