Mama Madison: The agony of the Halloween costume

Negotiating the sometimes treacherous terrain of kid wishes

Earlier this month my 11 year-old told me was too old to join his younger sister and me for Downtown Madison's Trick or Treat this Friday afternoon. Sprinting from door to door, under dark of night on the actual 31st in pursuit of full-size candy bars (he's so over the fun size) is one thing. But evidently being out in public, in broad daylight, dressed up as a '70s cop (I'm not sure whether he's thinking Mod Squad, Starsky and Hutch or the Village People) just isn't okay if your age is in the double digits.

This is probably good news. It means my son and I will have a few extra days to research the most popular style of law enforcement moustache during the "Me Decade." It also means he's starting to become self-aware, so normal during the middle school years. He's definitely maturing -- with or without the fake facial hair.

But perhaps most importantly, his decision gives me more time to focus on his sister's costume. I had been fully preparing myself for maternal failure on this front. Her standards are impossibly high. We'd been discussing her costume for months; it first came up last April while watching the Royal Wedding. I guess I should have expected as much; there is no way a nine-year-old girl could look at Princess Beatrice's hat and not free-associate her way to Halloween.

The discussion of what she might "be" continued all summer; themes, price points and political correctness for a fourth grader were all addressed. Dorothy is fine. Sexy Dorothy is not. Spending fifty dollars on an Internet Pinkalicious costume in August didn't feel like money well spent, especially since I don't even know what a "Pinkalicious" is. And in real life, I told her, sailors do not wear mini-skirts while swabbing the starboard deck.

But as of last Saturday we still didn't have mutual agreement; I hoped a quick trip to one of those pop-up costume stores that rent empty retail space during the Halloween season might solve our dress-up dilemma. Pirate Cutie? Sassy Squaw? Rocker Zombie Girl? The choices were endless...and frankly kind of depressing. We were looking for inspiration. Instead we got 50% off on Disney Channel characters from cancelled shows and every age-inappropriate version of a feline creature imaginable.

Thirty minutes into our shopping excursion, just when I feared we'd come up empty, or even worse, trashy, my daughter came charging up to me from the back of the store.

"I've found it Mom," she said. "I'm going to be a banana," as she pointed to a yellow foam costume clearly labeled her size, 7-10.

"A banana?" I asked incredulously, concerned it would turn out to be some sort of sexy banana once we got it home. "Why?"

"It's funny, and kind of unexpected. I think that's what I'm going for. And it also looks pretty comfortable and is probably warm."

So this year, it's no high heels or glittery make up. No Velvety Devil Bride or Cowgirl Diva. She's gone practical, opting to be a piece of fruit instead of a tart.

I guess my son isn't the only one that's matured.

How's Halloween readiness going for your family? Have you had costume controversies at your place this year?

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