Each year around this time, kids all over start thinking about candy and dreaming up ways to increase their load. The kidlet is nearing the end of his trick-or-treating days (already his friends are eschewing the idea), but this year he is still excited. If it's for the costume or the candy is unclear, but we've got 10 days to go and he's already bouncing off the walls.
One of the challenges we face each year is making up the costume. The kidlet has never wanted to be "a firefighter" or "a crayon" - oh no no. Those might be easy. One year he was an Arcadian Beast (I didn't have a sewing machine, so the whole costume was done by hand), another year he was a Nemian Lion, another year a tank. Last year it was a pilot - but not just any pilot, one who flew a certain type of jet with a unique uniform. And this year... sigh... a "dragon insectoid" (half dragon, half dragonfly).
In the process of creating these amazing works of imagination, we end up piecing together bits and pieces of all sorts of things. Part of the process is creating the plan, but the far more difficult piece is finding everything you need to put it together. And thus begins my story...
As is our usual process, we first travel around the costume shops to gather inspiration and see if there is anything we can use to enhance the costume. Since this year's creation requires the head of a dragon, in particular I was hoping to find something already made for that piece. I can make wings, and the dragonfly eyes I figured out - but how to make a convincing dragon head? So off we went in search of a dragon mask.
Always before this year, I've been extremely careful about which sections of the costume store we walk through - but the dragon mask required a little deviation. The masks are usually back with the zombie costumes. So we found ourselves walking through a horror shop, with kidlet's eyes growing larger with each step. I could see it happening - overactive imagination going wild with all of that horrific new information. The clown costume with glowing eyes (think Stephen King's "It") made him stare for a good 2 minutes until I finally pulled him away (with his eyes not leaving the clown's face until we turned a corner and he couldn't see it any more). That was on top of the skeleton at the first store that was motion-activated, and started moving and laughing maniacally when the kidlet walked by - making him jump about a foot off the ground.
Needless to say, by the end of our shopping trip (which was sadly ineffective in finding a dragon mask), the kidlet was visibly shaken. As we were getting into the car, he complained, "Why is Halloween becoming so much about bad things?!" I had to explain the origins of Halloween (All Hallows Eve and All Saints Day - well that was the version I told him anyway), and also how I've kept him out of those scary parts of the stores before. He listened intently, but I was nervous that the images he'd seen would stay with him, like so many images from the news, or movies, or anything remotely unsettling have done. Welcome to the world of super-sensitivity. He's already hyper-anxious about pretty much everything, and I'd just added some new horrors to his ever-growing list. Great job, mom.
I remembered as a child having a horrible series of nightmares about a billboard in my town that advertised the Stephen King movie, "Carrie." Nothing could convince me that the blood that covered the front of her gown wasn't her own, from having her skin flayed from her body. In my own over-active imagination, she was dying - and the horrors that had been inflicted upon her were coming for me next. I had nightmares for weeks over that scene. (It wasn't until years later I heard the story of pig's blood being thrown on Carrie in the book/movie.)
Seeing that look in my kidlet's eyes reminded me of those days... but fortunately the kidlet is much older than I was (4yo) and managed his fear far better than I was able to. I'm pretty sure he has had some nightmares - he hasn't said anything, but he has been extra tired and hyper-sensitive to stimuli during the days. But he will learn from this, as I did, one more step down the road of learning to manage his own over-excitabilities.
And his costume is going to be great.