Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Costume Woes

I feel the need to apologize to all the lovely Target shoppers at our local store last week. You see, I felt the insane desire to bring the kids (all 3 of them) into the shiny shopping mecca in order to find Wyatt a Halloween costume.

I know, it was 3 weeks before Halloween, how could I wait so long?

I had to wait so long because apparently I birthed not only the pickiest male dresser under the age on 9 on the planet, but also the pickiest Halloween-costume-wearer. The boy cannot decide on a costume to save his life. This one is too babyish. This one is ugly. I don't like this one. Can't I be this one with all the fake blood and the cleaver?

Why? Why, won't someone please tell me, why does it have to be so hard?

I love Halloween. I love decorating with all the pumpkins and gourds and sometimes even that fake spider web stuff hanging all over my front door. I love making cider on the stove and having the whole house smell like a big pumpkin pie. I love the trick-or-treating in the freezing cold and returning home to see if some teenager has smashed our jack-o-lanterns. But I absolutely hate trying to pick out Halloween costumes.

It isn't that the task itself is horrible, but the choices for boys are.

I noticed, as I had in previous years, that the "boy" section for Halloween costumes contains a wide array of disgusting, violent and gory costumes. Okay, I know, Halloween is supposed to be scary . . . but does it have to be violent?

I am all for dressing up like a vampire, or a mummy or a skeleton. But a serial killer? No thanks. And of course, my boys are drawn to the most violent and most gory costumes like moths to a flame. And with each plastic butcher knife or sickle that they pick up from the accessories bin, I begin to lose my sanity, right there in the Halloween aisle at Target.

I think I actually, physically threw my hands up in the air before turning the giant 2-seated cart that my kids insisted upon riding in (although in my opinion they are too big for) around and heading to a more calming area of the store (think bed & bath section . . . ).

"Get whatever costume you want," I screamed. "Just pick one out, I don't' even care anymore."

How's that for some good parenting, right there?

A little part of me knew deep down inside that if I showed my real disgust with the situation, Wyatt would stop trying to convince me to buy the Serial Killer costume and settle for something a bit more PG. And I hate that I had to do that. But for Pete's sake, the school rules clearly state that no masks, fake blood or pretend weapons are allowed at school for the student's costume party, I know there is a reason for this. And I am not about to buy my kids 2 costumes, one that is tame enough for school and one that they can wear at home.

What kind of message would that send?

Obviously, our (my) Halloween-costume-buying issues have created a situation in which I've over thought the whole thing to death, and no good can come out of it. However, how do we, as parents, stick to our morals and values in a culture that clearly gives no regard to them?

And I really don't think I am that unusual here, the majority of the parents of my kid's friends believe the same way and we do not consider ourselves extremely strict, we even allow our kids to watch PG-13 movies on occasion (shocker!).

And the school, our public school, supports this and has for as long as I can remember.

So, what is wrong with the retail portion of this? Why can't we keep the obvious gore and violence out of the kiddy section and only offer these types of costumes for older kids and adults?

I am a huge believer that kids should be kids. They should have fun and be encouraged to use their imaginations. They should be allowed freedom in their choices, within reasonable boundaries set by parents. And I suppose that some people will think that I'm overreacting to the whole violent Halloween costume thing, but I'll stand by my choice. When it comes to my 3rd-grader, who still does not like to go into the dark garage by himself, there will be no Freddy Krueger costume, or "murderer". If he wants to be a vampire or a werewolf, fine.

Lucky for me, he chose to be a clown. And not the scary kind either, but the kind with flashy sunglasses, a Flash Gordon t-shirt and a rainbow wig with face paint.


Lisa said...

I hear ya on all of the violent costumes out there. We got a Jedi costume for Seth but only because a Jedi ends up sliding Darth Moll in half in the Star Wars movie.

Violence. Gah.

Kyla said...

BubTar wanted to be scary AND nice. We got a Davy Jones costume, even though he's never seen Pirates. Josh hasn't seen it either and assured BubTar that he becomes good at the end which isn't exactly true, but we haven't fixed the misunderstanding yet. Ooops. KayTar is being Piratey Girl sidekick.

But yeah, the costume options out there are ridiculous. The thing that gets me is there MUST be parents who buy them or the companies would stop producing them.

Maureen said...

Luckily I only had a girl; my woes came when she wanted the really sexy costumes. I held her off those until she was 16 and obviously didn't trick or treat anymore, it was just for her own house party (and was Bat Girl, which, although was skin tight, at least covered her up).

Family Adventure said...

I think the whole Halloween costume thingy needs to be revisited. The boys' stuff is way to violent once they hit a certain age ( 5) and the girls' stuff starts being sexy (!) at around that age, too. I completely agree with you - it is NOT appropriate.

A clown - now THAT'S cute!

- Heidi

jen said...

the whole thing..the whole marketing monstery thing. ugh.

but then they look damn cute all dressed up.

Monique said...

Luckily, I don't really have to worry too much about this yet. Last year, I thought Samara would want to be something... odd, like a half eaten bug or something, such is her persona. She said a witch, and ended up being an angel. I don't want the kids to ever be anything horrifically real. Though I do think, they should express their odd creativity, because I know they have it, lol.

I also hope my son never wants to be a pimp. I know it's not a serial killer, but still...

Carrie said...

More reason that I'm glad to have such a little one this year. He's dressing up as a pea-in a pod, and he gets no input in the matter.

On other notes- every time you leave a post on my blog, it confuses me. I think- did I leave a post on my own blog? Why is it saying I have a message from Carrie? Then I remember it's you, and I'm happy, because you have better things to say than I do :)

carrie said...

I totally agree with Monique, a half-eaten bug is fine, a pimp is not!

And Carrie, too sweet! She's a new mommy too, so the fact that she even finds time to comment . . . says a lot!

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh... I agree with you a 100% over and over again. I can't believe some of the costumes that have come out. Great post!
- Audrey

Pinks & Blues said...

I didn't mean to send anonymous! Sorry!
- Audrey
Pinks & Blues

Becc said...

I hear ya! I can't wait for the trick-or-treating days to be over so we can just stay at home and hand out candy. I like how house to be the CUTE halloween spot, not the scary bloody one.

Have fun!

Becc said...

Sorry. That was supposed to be "our house". LOL

Becky said...

can't wait to see your costume....and i totally agree. i dont think kids need to dress up as things like this. try to preserve their innocence!

Cathy said...

We're going to look this weekend for costumes. Luckily, my kids are still young enough to be scared of the gory stuff. The preschooler, however, is picky, picky about clothes. Am dreading this expedition for that reason.

Kellan said...

No ... Pimps are not good. I have four kids and we've had our share of costume debates. Somehow, it all worked out - so far. I guess you have to have the good with the bad - like in life. We just have to keep steering them in the right direction - try our hardest. Good post and by the way ... we haven't gotten any costumes yet - you're way ahead of me. See ya.

painted maypole said...

yeah, the violent scary stuff gets me too.

Hey... sex and violence. Our halloween costumes. Our TV shows. Our music...

at least our "culture" is consistent.


pinks & blues girls said...

You had me cracking up here! It's true, though... I half expect to see a Son of Sam costume sometimes with all the other costume choices that leave me scratching my head.

The clown choice sounds like a safe bet!

Jane, Pinks & Blues

Oh, The Joys said...

If only we had more time to make the costumes, eh? - sigh -

Left Coast Sister said...

Luckily we're only interested in having our head covered (??) so it's Batman for my 4 yr old. It helps to have only hand-me-down costumes to choose from and not even go into Target's Dreaded Aisle.

your cousin said...

I can vividly picture a photo of the two of us one Halloween. We were probably 4 and 5. I was a witch with a long wig and pointy black hat, you were an Indian complete with face paint and feathers (remember, this was in the days before political correctness). I have my hands out in front of me as if they're a witch's gnarled claws going after some unsuspecting child. You're looking at me with your hands/claws out as well. I like to think you were emulating your older (although not THAT much older) cousin. :-)

Can't wait for a photo of the three of 'em!

Queen of the Mayhem said...

What a great post! It is like fighting a losing battle! I feel like I am at war with most facets of the outside world when it comes to instilling values and morals.

It seems like retailers, TV, and radio would get the hint!

alice c said...

Here in the UK Hallowe'en is a new thing and I am glad that we didn't have to do it when my children were younger.

However, I can really relate to the shopping thing because I nearly strangled my son after he had tried on every. single. pair. of rugby boots between here and New Zealand. It was important that he found the right pair for his image...

Mom said...

"Princess Leia? Do you remember that one? You looked great in that costume. We resurrected a silvery mini-dress your grandma had made; first it was a cocktail dress for HER (she is so tiny, it wasn't that short ), then I wore it to a college Homecoming . I think it is still here, in the dress-up box we are saving for Katie.

Oh, and I really liked "Wonder Woman", remember? You wore your blue swimsuit over red tights. I think we actually bought some flashy red fabric for the cape.

And you brother was usually some kind of a hobo. We always had a lot of old stuff around for him. Now days he would be in style, right?

I MY day, we just cut eye-holes in white sheets, threw them on, yelled "boo" & called it good."


cry it out! said...

Great post! I've always been annoyed at the slinky young girl costumes and I didn't think anything of the boys and violence angle. Well done.


aimee / greeblemonkey said...

I am sooooooo with you! :)