Halloween is arguably the most kid-centric holiday in existence (Christmas is fun for everyone, New Years is for adults, Easter is... not really that "fun" in the classic sense.) and I tragically had to miss Trick or Treating. Owing to my current nights rotation, I left for work just as the kids were getting home from school and thinking about getting dressed up. I love Halloween and was feeling pretty sorry for myself that I had to miss it, both for myself and for the kids.
But let me back up and tell this story properly.
For months, Colin has not wavered in his desires and plans to be a Digger for Halloween, specifically, a Giant Excavator. I tried to sell him on the idea of being a construction worker but he was unswayed.
"THE DIGGER, Mommy. I'm going to be THE DIGGER."
Who am I do deny someone so determined their very dearest wish?
And so, planning commenced for an elaborate, functional Digger costume. A sure to be classic, it was constructed from several cardboard boxes which were spray painted yellow and assembled over the course of a few weeks. It did indeed have a working Digger arm, at least in theory.
"MOMMY! THE DIGGER ARM IS BENDING AND MY DIGGER IS SCOOPING THE WRONG WAY!"
Drama is inherent in the creation of any good Halloween costume, and Colin is at the age where everything is spoken in CAPITAL LETTERS and WITH GREAT URGENCY, but the arm did bend a bit so I employed some resourcefulness and duct taped the hell out of that arm. Eventually I taped some chopsticks to the inner aspect of the arm, which stabilized it enough for Colin's satisfaction.
Caroline is a baby, for all intents and purposes, and so does not know what Halloween is, nor is she permitted to eat any of the candy. She does not care for costumes or any of that silliness, as she is a very serious child, prone to introspection and reading books alone. If it were up to her, she probably would have stayed home with her book pile and Beloved Purple Hippo. But it wasn't up to her, so she was dressed up as a Construction Barrel to accompany her brother.
Her costume was much simpler: dressed in all orange, including an orange tutu provided by Aunt Jenny, she was wrapped in white duct tape (This Halloween brought to you by duct tape!) and given a small toy construction barrel to hold up as an example whenever anyone asked her what she was. Her hair was styled such that she had a pony tail sticking straight out of her head. It was, truly, adorable. She was several times mistaken for Nemo, to which I replied that obviously she wasn't Nemo, since I hadn't duct taped on of her arms down to give her a lucky fin. An obvious and clear difference between a construction barrel and a cartoon fish.
We went to a Trunk or Treat on Sunday in these costumes and they went over very well. Initially Colin had some difficulty walking in his Digger costume, but then a very cute little princess with long blonde hair said, "Look at that awesome costume! He's a construction machine! Cool!" and Colin suddenly had no difficulty in walking. He stood up a little straighter and suddenly loved his costume. (I was pleased to hear this comment as well, in all honesty.) Everyone loved the Digger and sidekick Barrel/Nemo. They made a killing in candy.
Then came Wednesday, Halloween. School had a parade in which all of the kids wore their costumes and visited each other's rooms in exchange for candy. Parents were invited and since I'm working at night and only doing something useless like sleeping during the day, I was not going to miss it. I darted home after work in the morning and collected the kids and their costumes. Caroline wasn't going to be with Colin, so her costume was converted from the Barrel/Nemo to Colin's old Candy Corn.
Colin, however, could not be dissuaded from wearing the Digger to school. I tried various tactics to get him to wear some dress up clothes that would let him run around like normal (eg: train conductor, chef, santa's helper, or any of the other dozens of dress up clothes that we have on hand) but he would have none of it.
"NO, I'M A DIGGER, MOMMY. I've never wanted to be anything so much in my LIFE."
I couldn't argue with that logic, could you?
(There is a side story here in which I discover that I am stranded at home without car seats for the kids because my neighbor, who was not at home, had them to pick the kids up after school. I ended up borrowing a friends car who has similarly aged kids to even get to school. Then I started taking pictures with my camera, only to discover that it had neither a battery nor a memory card. This day was something else, I tell you.)
I dragged that thing into school and all the teachers and other parents looked at me with odd looks. I really wanted to believe it was envy: look at that awesome costume! And she's in scrubs too, wow, how does she do it? Instead, however, I'm pretty sure it was more: pitiful woman. That costume is ridiculous and she looks like she hasn't showered or slept. It's so sad when people live vicariously through their kids. And scrubs? What a dumb costume.
Once the parade started, Caroline would have no part of the Candy Corn or any other costume. Which is fine, whatever. Right? Not according to Colin, who kept was watching for Caroline and kept running out of his room to attack Caroline from behind.
"NO, CAROLINE! You have to wear your COSTUME! It's the only way to get CANDY!"
And he would shove it back over her head, covering her face. She would flail her arms and scream in protest, and suddenly her costume and character became Haunted Zombie Candy Corn.
Colin's turn to parade around brought a new struggle. Kids everywhere were having meltdowns in the middle of the hallway, with other kids just stepping over them. A screaming Dinosaur here, a crying Elephant there, here is a Cupcake with tears the size of cherries on top. I looked over at one point to see Spiderman lying spread eagle on the floor sobbing and the teacher standing over him. He was completely unmoved by her pleas of "Spidermans don't cry!"
The halls at school are not exactly huge, and when filled with a bunch of small children in itchy, poorly sized, uncomfortable clothes, it can be hazardous for even the most careful Digger. Every time Colin turned around, he would take out some poor one year old Monkey child with his Digger arm. He would back away from the stunned kid only to run over a little Captain America. The more flustered he got, the more dangerous he became.
About ten minutes in, he looked up at me and said, "Mommy, I am SO DONE with this costume." I reminded him that he'd just told Caroline that it was the only way to get candy and he shrugged it off, marching ahead and collecting candy anyway. I trailed behind with the sad, forsaken Digger.
After school, he sat at the counter as I readied for work and tried to talk up Trick or Treating.
"It's so fun!" I promised, "everyone's dressed up and you get to meet new people and get candy!"
He looked tired, perhaps worn out from his vast destructive Digger path at school. "Mommy, I don't want to wear my Digger. I don't like it anymore. I just want to be Normal Colin."
I should have anticipated this. I looked at the clock. 5:25pm. My shift starts at 6pm. Nothing like a deadline!
"How about a chef?" I said, waggling the dress up clothes at him. Nope.
"Fireman? Doctor? Leprechaun?"
His eyes lit up. I froze. God, what had I done? I held in my hands a green top hat with four-leaf clovers around it left over from St. Patrick's day of the days when that was a really fun night at a bar. Where had my brain come up with Leprechaun? Regardless, that's what it was going to be, by God.
"MOMMY. I have never wanted to be ANYTHING so much as a lepa... lep... what is it again?"
So, in the five remaining minutes before leaving for work, we threw together a Leprechaun outfit and he was thrilled, Best Thing Ever. Caroline went as the Candy Corn but quickly transformed into the Sleeping Orange and Yellow Rock on her daddy's shoulder. They had a blast, going out with friends. Colin made friends with two more little girls dressed as princesses, who were quite enamored with him. Caroline slept well. Patrick ate a ton of candy.
I wish I had more photographic bragging rights for this phase of Halloween than this picture of Patrick (who was costumed only in an orange fleece), but Patrick reported to me later that night as we spoke on the phone, "Sorry, we were just having too much fun to take any pictures."
And with that, I lay Halloween 2012 to rest in a dirty, dusty grave. We'll try again next year.