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?

comments powered by Disqus

More to read

Loading More Articles
No More Articles

Mama Madison: Back-to-school confidences

Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.

Mama Madison: Does back-to-school really mean a whole new wardrobe?

This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"

Mama Madison: Next generation of bloggers

Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.

Mama Madison: Returning to the workforce

This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.

Triathlons raise money to teach kids healthy habits

"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.

Mama Madison: Kids will find their own passions in their own ways

"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."

Vital work is being done at the Lussier Community Education Center, from community-building to STEM skills

"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."

Mama Madison: Parental dice rolls?

Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."

Mama Madison: What constitutes a keepsake?

As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.

Mama Madison: Young love

Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (Near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.

Mama Madison: What a mother fears most

All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.

Operation Fresh Start's Youth Conservation Corps helps kids, and kids help parks

Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.

Mama Madison: Summer stress solved by yoga

The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.

Mama Madison: The greatest fans of road repair

Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.

Mama Madison: The alarm sounds

As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.

Mama Madison: My summer book list

For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.

Make Music Madison gives young artists a chance to perform

The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.

Mama Madison: Watching talent grow

Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.

Mama Madison: Writing time at Olbrich

If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.

Mama Madison: When UW-Madison's semester is over, the kids want out too

There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.


Emails from Isthmus Parents feature event highlights, story links, site updates, and occasional special offers from trusted sources. Name and email address are required. Thanks!